Today we returned to a place we’ve visited many times before that seems to get more peaceful and more beautiful with age – Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, NY.
The brainchild of landscape architect Lester Collins (1914-1993), Innisfree opened over 50 years ago with the goal of creating an immersive, individual experience in nature, inviting exploration and contemplation.
The garden pathways wrap around a large lake filled with lily pads and other aquatic plants. The terrain is mixed, with gravel pathways, moss and grass leading you around the bends of the crystal clear lake.
The plants are all native to the area, many of which we recognize from the land at The Willows. It’s tempting to fixate outward on the tranquil lake, but looking down at your feet reveals mixed mushrooms and wild flowers and insects in colors spanning the rainbow.
Admittedly, the place isn’t the most stroller friendly, but it was no where near as difficult a trek as our Argentinian hike to Tacul Beach. Our CitiMini stroller has seen much more difficult terrain.
After the first uphill climb, we rounded the corner and spotted a vertical water stream which didn’t take long for #1BigSis to decide to explore. We hadn’t come prepared with bathing suits, but that’s never stopped her from good water play before.
With no towels either, I just grabbed an extra fleece jacket from the diaper bag and viola – dry and happy again. I would have let #1LilBrother play in the water too, but eventually someone would need to fish him out – and I didn’t want that someone to be me.
Around the bend from the water feature we encountered an open area with 5 large boulders, each covered in stacks of smaller rocks. Innisfree borrows from Chinese and Japanese garden design, and the rocks are a reminder.
The pathway then takes a turn to the left, and as you round the corner, you are met with the sound of a waterfall off a cliff up above that empties into the lake to the right.
The base of the waterfall features broken slate slabs, some large enough to serve as bridges over the streams of water as it flows into the lake.
Just past the waterfall you’ll find a rock garden with deliberately placed boulders creating terraces and retaining walls perfect for resting. Wikipedia tells me that the rocks all come from the local forest.
At this point we’d been walking about 2 hours and the troops were a little tired and hungry. We’d made it roughly 300 degrees around the lake and were almost back at the entrance. With the promise of Mexican food for lunch, everyone rallied.
Back at the house, Amir wanted to throw his pole in the water again, and this time his efforts were VERY fruitful. The pond is so clear you can actually aim your cast towards where the fish are (which I feel like is a little bit cheating), but the crowd was happy to get to see some fish up close.
The great thing about The Willows and two kids under 4 is there are tons of outdoor spots to explore. #1LilBrother seems fascinated by the moss entryway at the formal front of the house, while #1BigSis as expected takes every opportunity to swing.
Tonight Amir and #1BigSis are doing something special (and adventurous) – sleeping in a camping tent out under the star-filled sky. I’m hoping for a positive report in the morning from both explorers.