Blithwood is the ultimate romantic, hidden garden on the banks of the Hudson River with views of the Catskill Mountains beyond. The Italianate garden is walled on three sides with a small reflecting pool in the center.
The garden sits below a turn-of-the-century mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The land dates back to a vast track bought from the Indians in 1680. The grounds began their metamorphosis from untamed woods into a carefully landscaped estate in the 1830s, when Robert Donaldson of North Carolina acquired the property and gave it the name Blithewood. He commissioned Andrew Jackson Downing, one of the foremost landscape artists of the day, to design the grounds.
I first came upon this house in the mid 70’s when, like many other estates along the Hudson, it was abandoned. I have an old photo of the main door with OM painted across it.
Since then it’s come into the possession of Bard College which has restored the house and sunken garden below it. Climbing vines, roses, pergola covered with wisteria, boxwood and grasses create a place of tranquil beauty.