Parterre at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
Founded by American collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is one of the premier art collector’s museums in the United States. The museum features the most comprehensive collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia and a world-renowned collection of eighteenth-century French decorative art and furnishings. The collection includes Faberge eggs, Russian porcelain, Russian Orthodox icons, Beauvais tapestries, and Sevres porcelain. Encircled by woodlands, the twenty-five acre estate provides visitors a tranquil oasis of luscious formal gardens.
Marjorie Merriweather Post commissioned two prominent landscape architects, Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, to design and build a garden that would complement her collection of eighteenth-century French furnishings and decorative arts displayed in the French drawing room of the mansion. Innocenti and Webel of Long Island, New York, designed a garden that featured all of the typical elements of an eighteenth-century parterre garden, scaled down to fit into a space already occupied by an enclosed garden with a fish pond. The garden at Hillwood is divided into quadrants separated by paths, with a shallow pool in the center. Each quadrant contains a low hedge of English boxwood tightly clipped into a fluid, organic pattern of scrolls. The French doors from the mansion’s west wing open onto a terrace that features an elegant swan fountain of pink marble, dropping water into a basin lined with glass tiles. A small frog fountain spews water into a second basin at the opposite end of the garden. Water flows from both basins spilling over into limestone rills and rippling into the center pool, where lead putto riding a dolphin and a seahorse send a stream of water splashing into the middle of the pool. On a pedestal above the frog, a terra cotta statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt, seems to be walking out of the wooded area behind the garden, as if she is returning from the chase with her faithful dog at her side. White marble sphinxes are perched on the balustrade of the terrace, surveying the scene below.
For more information visit the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens’ website: