|BLITHEWOLD MANSION AND GARDENS
On a recent trip I had the pleasure of visiting the picturesque and serene Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum located on the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. The area was developed in the mid 1890's when Pennsylvania coal magnate, Augustus Van Wickle and his wife Bessie purchased the land and built the first Blithewold mansion. After Augustus's death in 1989, Bessie re-married William McKee in 1901 and after a disastrous fire in 1906, the original home was replaced with the mansion that exists today. Bessie and her older daughter Marjorie Van Wickle proved to be talented horticulturists and Marjorie carried on her mothers legacy by developing the remaining 33 acres of Blithewold into the gardens that exist today. The mansion and grounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are enjoyed by visitors.
|VISITORS CENTER AND GARDEN
|ALLIUM SEED HEAD
|NORTH GARDEN FOUNTAIN
|BLITHEWOLD ART EXHIBITION
As part of an ongoing art exhibition " Sculpture Embraces Horticulture", several artists were featured in the gardens at the time of our trip using the elements of sun, rain and wind to power their creations. The above sculpture is a sunflower spiral solar powered creation from artist George Sherwood. Sherwood’s sculptures are based on movement that is a combination of both subtle and obvious. At times it appears his sculptures do not move at all, and at other times the colorful stainless steel reflective discus twinkle with each breeze, integrating art with nature.
|BLITHEWOLD ART EXHIBITION
Charissa Brock creates art with bamboo and was intrigued by the gardens and bamboo grove at Blithewold which is quite large for New England with its cold winters. Brock integrates the motion of the wind with bamboo and has created large “feathers” out of bamboo canes. Each feather has a skirt of short bamboo pieces and when the wind blows the feathers play with the wind creating music.
|WATER FEATURE IN DISPLAY GARDENS
SARGENT'S WEEPING HEMLOCK
These gardens were certainly an enjoyable visit. I was happy to read that in order to preserve the integrity of Blithewold a small group of concerned citizens banded together and raised funding to keep it open to the public. They became known as Blithewold, Inc. and in 2010 along with Preserve Rhode Island, an amended lease for a period of 99 years was created with an extension option, so that Blithewold would be protected for the future. Today it is considered to be one of the finest gardens in New England and received a certificate of excellence in 2014.
I hope you enjoyed the visit. As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved