Wethersfield

NY_Amenia_WethersfieldGarden_08_courtesy of Wethersfield Foundation_date unknown_sig.jpg
Amenia, NY
United States
Wethersfield

Landscape Information

Wethersfield Place

In 1937 Chauncey Devereaux Stillman purchased two contiguous abandoned farms comprising several hundred acres for use as a summer estate. He built a Georgian-style house designed by Bancel LaFarge at the highest point on the property, overlooking the Taconic Range, the Berkshires, and the Catskills. Adjacent to the house, he installed a series of garden rooms designed by landscape architect Brian Lynch that include terraces, lawns, mixed borders, a pleached bower, a tea house, a pergola, and a rill. Between 1947 and 1989, landscape architect Evelyn Poehler expanded the gardens to three acres, creating a strong axial arrangement with various follies and statuary.

A 190 foot-long arborvitae allée runs south to north connecting a Greek myth inspired fountain to an oval reflecting pool. A second axis, also starting at the reflecting pool, runs westward moving through a formal garden room with rows of topiary. Overlooking the garden to the north is a balustraded terrace set on a dry-stack shale wall. Scattered architectural features include a belvedere; and a Palladian arch. Poehler also designed a seven-acre woodland garden, employing a plant palette mostly comprised of native species, in the style of an Italian Renaissance bosco. Sculptures of mythological figures by artists Peter Watts and Josef Stachura are placed along trails and carriage roads.

The house and gardens, along with the bordering agricultural fields and forests, comprise the 1,000-acre estate. The agricultural landscape includes windbreak plantings, field diversions, open drains, retention ponds, and wildlife borders—all part of an extensive reforestation effort led by the New York State Conservation Department (now Department of Environmental Conservation) beginning in the 1940s.