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The Cherry Walk Rehabilitation Project

Modern view of restored Cherry Walk


Over the decades, the Cherry Tree Walk (the upper portion of the perennial tier) has gone through many changes. Because of the lack of records prior to Frederick Vanderbilt’s purchasing of the estate, we have to rely on pictures from the early part of the 20th century, not long after Vanderbilt began redesigning the formal gardens. Photos circa 1900-1910 show a very lush, overgrown garden full of evergreens and other large shrubs.

By the 1920’s and 1930’s this garden changed dramatically: Cherry trees and garden borders had replaced the evergreens, following a design developed by landscape designer Robert Cridland. After Vanderbilt’s death in 1938, this tier, along with the rest of the garden, had fallen into disrepair—only the low stone walls and the central path remained.

The FWVGA has replanted this garden and maintained it since 1985, undertaking a major effort starting in 2010 and extending over several more years, to repair the low stone walls, replant Cherry trees and add Rose of Sharon, Hydrangeas and Arborvitae, as well as to select and plant a variety of low-growing perennials in the beds below the stone walls, following as much as possible archival plans and photographs. Recently, the cherry trees along the central path had to be removed, as they had become diseased. The Association replaced them with Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’, a variety that blooms in Spring and Fall. Our research always continues and may well give rise to further changes and additions to the Cherry Tree Walk.

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