Yaddo a haven for nature-lovers, artists
"Spencer Trask laid out this rose garden in honor of his wife Katrina, author, poet, woman. Goe happy rose and enterwove with other flowers, bind my love," has marked the entrance to the gardens at Yaddo since 1899.
The 10 acres of overflowing botanicals, fountains and statues are maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers who formed the Yaddo Garden Association in 1991.
The gardens are divided into a formal rose garden and an informal rock garden, with statues and fountains throughout. Separating the two areas is a pergola with 38 Ionic columns and climbing roses, the focal point of the large gardens.
The Yaddo estate was named a National Historic Landmark this past March, which places it in an elite group of 2,500 locations nationwide, according to Lesley Leduc of the Corporation of Yaddo .
But to teach about the history of the estate itself, docent-led tours are offered every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at 11 a.m. and meet at the large fountain near the entrance to the gardens.
The association works to preserve the gardens' original design and function as Katrina Trask's "poets corner."
Leduc said that the group works directly in the gardens three days a week, replanting, pruning and watering the hundreds of varieties of flowers and plants.
The mysterious mansion overlooking the gardens has been an exclusive haven for artists since shortly after it was built, and the gardens remain the only area of the 400-acre estate open to the public.
Patrons are free to wander the grounds and enjoy the statues and terraces built to resemble the Italian gardens the Trasks enjoyed so much on their trips abroad.
The Trasks built the Yaddo estate in 1881, but after their children died in their youth, the couple worried about the future of their home. Their passion for the arts and the community that had begun to gather in their company led to the home's establishment as a center for the arts.
Many, including the Trasks and their friends, have believed that the grounds hold some kind of mystical creative power. Artists of all trades compete for residency at the estate every year. And many flock to the gardens to think and write.
Memo: See for yourself
The gardens at Yaddo are open June 15 through Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. to dusk, free of charge.
Tours are offered for $5 at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from late June to early September and also on Tuesdays during track season.