Hartley Magazine

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A Gardening Legacy

Thanks to the vision of a singular gardener, a remarkable garden flourishes in Cold Spring, New York. Stone Crop www.stonecrop.org is only one of the gardens Frank Cabot created; its twelve acres inspire visitors to dream their own complex and creative horticultural dreams. From the nineteen fifties until the early nineties, the property was the home of Mr. Cabot and his wife, Anne. Stone Crop was opened to the public in 1992. In addition to the display gardens, which include woodland and water gardens, raised alpine stone beds, an alpine house, and an enclosed English flower garden, Stone Crop operates an educational program, The School of Practical Horticulture. A striking conservatory, sited beside a pond is both beautiful and efficient–daytime temperatures in four distinct indoor zones are controlled with extensive vents and fans.

On a recent overcast day, a view of the garden encompassed many memorable sights: acres of alpines bloomed atop man-made rock outcroppings that now appear a natural element of the landscape, and a contented bull frog inhabited elegant water gardens below. The exquisite gray-violet flowers of a wisteria selection framed recently installed systematic beds, and the lush woodland garden seamlessly paired North American woodland natives with those from distant continents. After this year’s uncertain beginnings, the massive winter storage box stood ajar surrounding three giant Gunnera manicata plants. The generously insulated box is shut tight in late fall to protect this Amazonian from the New York’s winters. But on this day, the lids were off—it was officially spring.

The past year has been a particularly challenging one here, as well as in the larger world of horticulture. Frank Cabot died on November 19th of 2011. But it’s plain that his work lives on, and not just through his gardens– Stone Crop and Les Quatre Vents, in Quebec—both thrive and draw many visitors each year.

In the 1980’s Mr. Cabot also founded the Garden Conservancy, www.gardenconservancy.org, an organization in part inspired by the example of the British National Trust—and dedicated to the preservation of remarkable American gardens—ninety so far. The Garden Conservancy’s mission enables anyone to visit a variety of gardens—most, private—on designated days– called “Open Garden Days.” Admission is $5, and gardeners are often present to answer visitor queries. These gardens range from Maine to San Francisco; to locate participating gardens located near you, check under Open Days on the website. Visiting the gardens of these generous—and usually ambitious—gardeners is often highly educational and inspirational too.