Innisfree is a powerful icon of mid-twentieth century design. Over fifty years in the making, it is the work of landscape architect Lester Collins, FASLA (1914 – 1993), with important contributions by his clients, artist and teacher Walter Beck and gardener and heiress Marion Burt Beck. At its core, Innisfree is about the individual’s experience in nature. Inviting exploration and even contemplation, Collins’ sweeping landscape merges the essence of Modernist and Romantic ideas with traditional Chinese and Japanese garden design principles in a form that evolved through subtle handling of the site and slow manipulation of its ecology. The result is a distinctly American stroll garden—a sublime composition of rock, water, wood, and sky achieved with remarkable economy and grace.
Innisfree Garden is hailed as one of the top ten gardens in the world. It’s a modern design which invites wandering and defies the notion that you can take in the garden as a whole. The grounds stretch for 185 acres and are designed to give the appearance of a natural, wild space. Wild it is not. Every inch of this garden is carefully controlled and manicured. I especially loved the use of native plants.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.W. B. Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1888)
Innisfree Garden is located an 1:15 from Warwick, NY. For more information visit the garden’s website.
Photos ©2016 by Mabelyn Glanzman