If I have the time, one of my favorite things to do when I am in New York is to visit Sonnenberg Gardens. I discovered it (for myself since obviously someone knew about it before me!) many years ago listed in a book titled, New York, Off The Beaten Path (a great state series by the way). The gardens are peaceful, beautiful, and feel like a step back in time. This year I was lucky enough to share it with my little baby brother. Not only was he great company but he also helped me see it through a beginner's eyes again.
Before we entered the actual grounds, we came upon the welcome crew out panhandling.
Unfortunately we were not prepared for their appearance so we had nothing to give them. I swear I heard them mumbling something about ungrateful tourists as we walked away.
Once on the grounds, I ignored the admission person's advice and headed to the Japanese Garden. In my humble (?) opinion it really is the best starting point. Asian statuary, brooks running east to west, and a marvelous teahouse replica that the original owner used as both an entertainment center and a playhouse.
From there, it was off to the Roman bath house. When I first started going there the pool area was closed to the public as it was too unsafe to enter. It is still undergoing renovation but at least visitors can get a peek at it now for a sense of what life was like back in the 20's.
The pillars and the floor tiles are marble. If you enlarge the above photo the fountain that fed the pool is visible behind one of the pair of pillars.
We wandered through the other gardens (rose, traditional, blue and white, subrosa, and one I can't remember the name of) taking our time and oohing and ahing over each.
(In the formal garden)
We also passed under this exquisite Art Nouveau folly. Another structure that was no longer accessible to the public,
but it was on the way to my absolute favorite garden on the grounds. The Rock Garden.
It was cooler there which was a treat after walking the entire grounds in August heat.
Our final stop was the mansion itself,
(BTW ladies, he is single!) a 40 room summer home for Frederick (founder of Citibank) and Mary Thompson.
Many of the couple's original furnishings are still scattered through the house,
including one of Mrs. Thompson's famous white peacocks which she had stuffed upon its demise (let's hope it was after its demise!).
After we had done all that walking, baby brother and I agreed that it was time to find some 'stuffing' for ourselves so we left the grounds and headed back into the 21st century for some elegant cafeteria chow. Ponderosa called to us and, after all that gentility, it would have been uncivilized to ignore them.
As homage to our day we made sure to crook our pinkies when we ate.