Welcome to Blithewood!
The Blithewood Garden Rehabilitation Project
Bard College and the Garden Conservancy, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and sharing outstanding America gardens, are working together on repairs to the historic garden’s structures and hardscape.
Tours and Guides
For an Audio Tour of Blithewood, dial 845-752-BLWD (2593) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Praise for Blithewood
“Few places that we have ever seen exhibit such marked evidence of refined taste, and correct appreciations of rural beauty, as Blithewood. The spot itself is one possessing great natural attraction, and these have been heightened and improved to the greatest possible advantage.”
—author unknown, The Cultivator, 1845
Hunter is a Bard College student in the Environmental and Urban Studies Program with a focus on environmental science. Hunter took Economics 100 at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, located on the historic Blithewood Estate.
“When I'm not taking classes I enjoy relaxing around here ... I like to fly my kite here and I love spending time in the Italian garden.”
About Blithewood Garden
Designed by Francis L. V. Hoppin (1867–1941), Blithewood Garden is a classic example of a walled Italianate garden. In keeping with the turn-of-the-century trend toward Romanticism, the formal Italian garden acts as an extension of the Georgian-style mansion. Hoppin designed the house in 1900 for Captain Andrew C. Zabriskie (1853–1916) and his wife, Frances Hunter Zabriskie (d. 1951), who owned the Blithewood estate from 1899 to 1951, when their son, Christian Zabriskie, donated it to Bard College.
Blithewood Garden is a quintessentially architectural garden. It follows the traditional Italianate design, with a at ground plane, paths on geometric axes, symmetrical beds, a central water feature, statuary, marble ornaments, and walls that form an enclosure, creating a green “room.” The main axis of the sunken, rectangular garden and its terraces terminates at a pavilion overlooking the Hudson River. During an interview in 1903, Hoppin expressed his thoughts about the relationship between the house and garden, saying that both “are properly parts of a single design . . . rather than afterthoughts.”
Blithewood’s formal garden, lawn, and woodlands contain remnants of vegetation that once existed around much of the estate. Historically, Frances Hunter Zabriskie would have included clipped evergreens, tree peonies, tulips, irises, hyacinths, gladiola, daffodils, phlox, delphiniums, lavender, forget-me-nots, ivy, buttery bush, rhododendrons, lilacs, wisteria, and rugosa and climbing roses, as well as maintained turf. Potted oleander and orange trees, geraniums, nasturtiums, cosmos, snapdragons, and zinnias also graced the garden each year.
Articles about Blithewood
Host Your Event at Blithewood
If you are interested in hosting an event, film or photography session at Blithewood, please contact Susanna E. Armbruster, coordinator of summer programs and community resources at:
Praise for Blithewood Garden
“Robert Donaldson ‘shaped the land into pleasure grounds of aesthetic delights: shaded bowers, terraced gardens, waterfalls, and long vistas, utilizing what nature had so bountifully supplied. Integral to his design were the farm and its fields, pastures, barns, and livestock.’”
—Jean Bradley Anderson, Carolinian on the Hudson, 1996