I spent the first grey working day of 2014 tromping through an old house and garden. Later this year, for the month of May, Blairsden, in Peapack, NJ will become a sparkling designer show house and gardens. I was there to preview the latter. I love old houses, especially ones that have new lovers after years of neglect. I find both the neglect and the restoration fascinating.
The place is a wreck. Almost every aspect inside and out needs something. Outside there are courtyards, formal terraces, sculpture, a loggia, a totally ruined cascade, a tumbled down orangerie and a grotto of sorts. There were gardens here at one point, but all that’s left are ghosts. Very few of the landscape/garden spaces were available for re-design and I’m not at all sure that I will participate this year. Still, it was a fantastic way to spend the morning despite a looming storm and frigid temperatures.
The reflecting pool will be completely restored. The driveway flanks it on either side.
An interior courtyard with a loggia on its south side. The house is built high on a hillside with sweeping views of the Far Hills. Terraced lawns are just below. A cascade starts at the lowest terrace.
The water cascade going down to the home’s original entry driveway. That was at some point re-routed and is up the hill by the reflecting pool. Above the fountainhead is what used to be an orangerie. It is abandoned with its arching glass windows long gone.
With all of this desolate and forlorn beauty there was a Sphinx (one of four actually) who I’d like to think is wondering what all the hubbub is about and what spring will bring after such a long and lonely stretch of indifference.