The Gardens - Gardens of Violetta White Delafield

The Gardens


Gardens of Violetta White Delafield

The gardens at Montgomery Place today reflect the period between 1925 and 1945, when new owners John Ross and Violetta White Delafield added many new features.

Violetta, seen here in one of her gardens in 1937, was the driving force behind these new gardens in the "American country place" mode.

Gardens of any sort at Montgomery Place took a back seat to basic maintenance during the years after 1873, when Cora Livingston Barton died and the children of her favorite cousins tenanted the estate. Her relatives loved the property and did what they could to preserve parts of it, but the expense associated with keeping up such a large and elaborate estate was enormous and unmanageable for the family. No new gardens were created in the nearly fifty years that the Hunt family summered at Montgomery Place, and indeed Cora's ornamental gardens had all but disappeared and Louise's gothic conservatory had been dismantled by the 1890s. Besides being financially burdensome to maintain, the gardens and glasshouses of the mid-19th century had gone far out of fashion by the 1890s, so their loss would not have been lamented. 

In the very same time period when the Montgomery Place gardens were receding from lack of maintenance and, perhaps, botanical interest on the part of the Hunts, a groundswell of energy and money during the Gilded Age gave rise to the creation of modern gardens that complemented the newly-built, large country places of wealthy Americans. These gardens differed entirely from the Victorian gardens of the mid-19th century, and were often designed by professional landscape architects.

Violetta White Delafield in the ellipse garden. Gelatin silver print, c. 1937. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

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