This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
"If any one wishes to see what art combined with nature can produce, he has only to take a short excursion to the park of the late Hon. William Kelly, near Rhinecliff, and enjoy himself to the fullest extent. The moment a person enters the gate of these unsurpassed grounds his attention is called in every direction. The scene takes instant hold of a person's mind, not leaving him time to think of anything except of this elegant monument which William Kelly erected to make his name immortal. The paths, smooth and clean and gracefully curved and bended; the beautiful lawn, like a carpet, together with the elegant flower beds, which show so naturally and to the best advantage, nothing appears to disharmonize the entire arrangement. The centre bed, with a magnificent vase in the centre, looks like an emperor in his "ornat," surrounded by the noblest children of Flora.
The majestic magnolias, together with the other large varieties of flowers, fairly till the air with their luxurious fragrance. The costly vases are placed with skill, and filled with the rarest and most beautiful flowers and vines, and are situated most advantageously between fine specimens of evergreens and flowering trees.
"In crossing the grounds you come to an endless looking lake, which is made the more picturesque by its beautiful surroundings and a small steamboat. The pond is crossed by an elegant bridge leading to a distant part of the park. Lovers of nature and art can hardly see a purer and nobler representation of landscape in the United States, - so pronounced by the most competent authorities from abroad, - who have come to enjoy this Mecca of art.
'The endless beauties of this park, the paths, the lawn, the rolling ground, the skilful plantation of magnificent trees, - a combination which could scarcely be surpassed - is the work of its skilled superintendent. In front of the mansion there is presented one of the handsomest views in the world. Besides the surroundings of this grand place, looking towards the south the cities of Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and all the villages between the places that line the river away down to the Highlands, which are thirty-five miles distant, and looking towards the north, whole ranges of the Catskills, with all their magnificent summer resorts, are spread out before the beholder in delightful panorama. Comfortable seats are placed all over the grounds, whence all their beauties can be observed and admired. Large palms where the zephyrs can play with their fans; a century plant now almost done blooming, and an exquisite temple are objects of admiration. Numerous birds and squirrels, which are strictly protected and enjoy an undisturbed and happy existence, enliven this park.
"A very cunning little tale was whispered in our ears; namely, Flora descended from Olympus, and erected her throne in this temple, and held her midnight reviews over her beloved children. The workmen hearing of this, combined together to endeavor to catch her, and approached from all directions, and just as they were about to lay hold upon her, she turned into an elegant alabaster urn, which stands there yet. On entering the plant, grape and peach houses, one will in the first place find plants of the whole known world, from orchids down to geraniums - all cultivated to specimen plants, flowers, as well as the most brilliant leaves. Beautiful grapes, red, white and black, of immense size, reminding a person of the Palestine grapes, where two men were needed to carry on a stick one bunch on their shoulders; peaches, luxuriant and large, finer than out door ones. All this together with the fruit and vegetable departments, comprises a rare and perfect skill of horticulture and a most accomplished model of gardening.
" Mr. John Peatty, the superintendent of this institution, is always ready to show and explain to visitors who take an interest in this noble and useful art of gardening. While we thank Mr. Peatty for his politeness, we take this opportunity to say he is a gentleman of rare talent; not only in horticulture, but in every other subject that was broached, he seemed to be well versed. Inside we were all taken up by the beauty and grace of this great - if not the greatest - park in the United States. Certainly any one who comes to the shores of our beautiful Hudson should not fail to take a look at these celebrated grounds. They are thrown open by the kind owners for inspection to all classes of visitors."
[The above sketch of this very pretty place was originally contributed by Mr. B. to the Rondout Courier. In addition to the notes above given Mr. B. says: "A large Magnolia Soulangeana was for the second time in full bloom on that occasion." - Ed. G. M.]