This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Hyde Park, seventy-five miles above New York, was formerly the residence of Dr. Hosack, and well do we love to chronicle, late though it be, a visit there with that noble specimen of a high-minded class of Irish gentlemen, the son-in-law of the doctor. Jacob Harvey, Esq., was among the most ingenious, open-hearted, excellent of men; a humorist of the rarest talent, Mr. Harvey never failed to win the heart of all with whom he came in contact. It was he who favored the public with those remarkable reminiscences of John Randolph, with whom he made one or two voyages to England. A mutual admiration and friendship ensued, and more racy and entertaining matter than Harvey's recollections of the statesman were never written.
Hyde Park passed into the hands of the late Walter Langdon, Esq., who married a daughter of John Jacob Astor; his son, of the same name, is now the owner of what Downing justly calls one of the finest specimens of landscape gardening in America. The house is a most graceful and elegant mansion of the composite order, with a fagade of one hundred and fifty feet, designed and built by Piatt, of New York, and finished in stucco.
The number of acres, about one hundred and seventy, embraces fine drives, the most superb river views, extending over sixty miles of the course of the noble Hudson. There have been erected extensive greenhouses and graperies, besides those of Dr Hosack.
A most remarkable and distinctive feature of Hyde Park above all the other places on the river, is the terrace bordering its whole front, at a distance sufficiently remote from, and elevated above, the river to give to the landscape both ample foreground and great extent of view - a terrace so artificial in its appearance, as that one with difficulty realizes that it is nature alone which has made it.
The approach from the village is particularly striking, passing as it does over a fine sheet of ornamental water by a very handsome and highly architectural bridge.
"Far to the Sooth, a mountain rale retires, Rich in its groves, and glens, and village spires; Its upland lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung, Its wizard stream, nor nameless nor unsung; And thro' the various year, the various day, What scenes of glory hurst, and melt away."- - ROGREE.
The pleasure grounds are extensive; much planting with artistic effect has been done, and it will be safe to say that this spot, framed by nature and embellished by art, combines within itself as much beauty as is comprised within the same space in any part of our country.
We found Mr, Lang don busily engaged with his horticultural projects and improvements, disposed to fully realize the enjoyments such a place affords, From a fine stream on the place, he has an ample supply of water, which is conducted everywhere by hose and pipes, enabling the gardener to "make it rain" on bis crops when others suffer from drought. In the large kitchen garden, we remarked a simple mode of irrigation ex-tremely useful to such articles as strawberries; indeed, these beds were undergoing a thorough drenching while we were there. The idea was suggested by something aim Mar which Mr. Langdon had seen practised in Switzerland! and as it is so simple that everybody may adopt it whether they have a supply of water from a rani, a hose, or even a pomp, that we shall describe it.
A simple trough of wood, running inside the box-edging like a gutter, perhaps six inches wide and high, with sluice ways, every few feet, formed by pieces of the sides cut out, and turning on a pivot in the centre, which, when open, shuts off the water from farther progress down the trough by falling back against the side, and allows it to escape through an opening wherever it may be wanted. The artist has represented the elevated sides in the cut as too low; they might be made higher; in short, it is simply a flat trough with movable sides.
This beautiful place was laid out by Parmentier. Downing says it was for a long time the finest seat in America, but that "there are now many rivals to this claim," This is very true, but, in natural beauties, wo may safely doubt if it will ever be exceeded. It has, too, a great advantage over most "rivals," in its fine natural growth of trees, which have been aided and connected together by judicious additions. It has long appeared to us as one of the most satisfying country places extant on this continent.
Annandale, some twenty miles above, and near Barrytown, was commemorated by Downing as Blishewood, then the seat of R. Donaldson, Esq., in his Land-steep* Gardening, with a lover's praises. It is now the property of John Bard, Esq., who has changed its name to Annandale. Numerous improvements have been made by Mr. and Mrs. Bard since they came into possession, and many others are in progress which must render it a very perfect example of all that is desirable in a country-seat. The river is four miles wide here, with islands interspersed,* and a full view of the Gatskill Mountains on the opposite side, with their ever-varying shadows, sunshine, and clouds. Fine groups, and masses of trees and shrubbery, beautiful fountains, walks, drives, and, to this, hospitality and open-handed charity added, we give to Annandale the meed of extraordinary attraction and beauty.
The great water tower here, supplied from the noble brook between Mr. Bard's and Montgomery Place, is admirably contrived.
Perhaps one of the most agreeable features at Annandale, is the great interest which the amiable proprietors take in the moral improvement of the neighborhood. With a noble and praiseworthy liberality, they have, we understand, established, at their own expenditure, large and successful schools and churches, both upon the estate and at the neighboring village, where the whole expense of the erection of the buildings, the salaries of the clergymen and teachers, are defrayed from their private purse.
It is, we believe, the intention of Mr. Bard to erect a mansion of a size and dignity commensurate to the beauty of the place. Many persons with his ample means, would perhaps have done this at once, but he, with a forbearance beyond all praise, preferred to render unto God before rendering unto Caesar.
Annandale was planted by John G. Stevens, Esq., Admiral of the New York Yacht Club, who is still living; though his trees Took old, he is not so, thus showing a successful instance of planting attaining perfection in the lifetime of a single individual. John C. Cruger bought it of Mr. Stevens.
Mr. Bard is erecting fine conservatories and forcing houses; he already possesses a stove, and other arrangements, for winter use. A new dwelling in every respect worthy this fine property of nearly two hundred acres, is to be constructed the ensuing season.
It was here that we remarked the fine groups of artistic Milan tables and chairs noticed on page 412.