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Innisfree Garden 1983-1999

Landscape designer:
Beck, Walter d. 1954
Former owner:
Beck, Marion d. 1960
Foundation president:
Collins, Lester -1993
Physical description:
3 folders+ 81 35 mm. slides
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, New York, Dutchess County, Millbrook
New York
Innisfree Garden (Millbrook, N.Y.)
Established in 1930, Innisfree was designed and built by Walter Beck, a scholar-teacher-artist who was influenced by ancient Chinese garden art. Innisfree explores a Chinese garden design concept called a "cup garden," which has origins in Chinese paintings dating back a thousand years. The cup garden draws attention to something rare or beautiful. This special object is segregated by establishing an enclosure around it so that it can be enjoyed without distraction. A cup garden may be an enframed meadow, a lotus pool, or a single rock covered with lichens and sedums. At Innisfree the visitor strolls from one three-dimensional picture to another. Streams, waterfalls, terraces, retaining walls, rocks, and plants are used not only to define areas, but also to establish tension or motion. Although the cup garden idea came from China, Innisfree is unequivocally an American garden. The lake is glacial, most of the plant material is native, and the rocks have come from the immediate forest.
Persons associated with the garden include: Walter and Marion Beck (former owners and landscape designer [Walter Beck] 1930-1960) and Lester Collins (landscape architect and president, Innisfree Foundation, 1960-1993).
The folders include worksheets, garden plans, correspondence, and photocopies of correspondence, articles, and brochures about the garden.
Garden has been featured in Lester Collins, Innisfree: an American Garden (Sagaponack, NY: Sagapress Press, 1994)
Garden has been featured in Jan Kowalczewski Whitner, Gardening with Stone: Using Stone Features to Add Mystery, Magic and Meaning to Your Garden (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1999), pp. 184-191
Garden has been featured in Guy Cooper and Gordon Taylor, Gardens for the Future: Gestures Against the Wild (New York, NY: Monacelli Press, 2000), pp. 180-183
Garden has been featured in Priscilla Dunhill and Sue Freedman, Glorious Gardens to Visit: 58 Gardens Within 3 Hours of New York City (New York, NY: C. N. Potter/Crown, 1989), pp. 64-67
Garden has been featured in Ogden Tanner, Gardens of the Hudson River Valley: an Illustrated Guide (New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1996), pp. 78-81
Garden has been featured in Mary Zuazua Jenkins, National Geographic Guide to America's Public Gardens: 300 of the Best Gardens to Visit in the U.S. and Canada (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1998), pp. 90-91
Garden has been featured in Paul Bennett, Garden Lover's Guide to the Northeast (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), p. 98
Garden has been featured in Architectural Digest, November 1980, pp. 139-143
Garden has been featured in Adam Begley, "Secret Garden," Connoisseur, April 1991, pp. 132-135+
Garden has been featured in William Bryant Logan, "Making the Stones Dance," Garden Design, December 1994/January 1995, pp. 70-76
Garden has been featured in Preservation Magazine, November/December 1997
Garden has been featured in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, November 1999
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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