Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birch Allee at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens was created through a combined design effort by architect Charles S. Schneider and Boston landscape architect Warren H. Manning. This is very clear when viewing the central axis (read more here), and also when viewing the magic of the Birch Allee which extends from the right wing of the Hall.

The right wing of Stan Hywet Hall extended from the main hallway with a loggia, or porch with columns. The Birch Allee can here be seen as the silvery foliage just to the right of the building.
We were not allowed to take photos in the interior of the Hall. Had we been allowed, I could share with you the incredible view of the white stone path of the Birch Allee as seen from Music Room at the other side of the house. I realized that the Allee must rise just slightly in order to create this long view from the interior. This is a photo standing just outside the house. The red tapestry hanging far in the distance is in the Music Room.
The loggia looking toward the Birch Allee.
The openings of the Stan Hywet loggia are filled with Boston ferns and window-box impatiens.
Looking back the Allee to the house.
The variety of birch tree is said to be the grey birch, Betula populifolia, which are native to North America. They are underplanted thickly with lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) and periwinkle (Vinca major).
The larger, uneven stones on the allee path make walking quite a challenge. But it is easy to see why the white colored materials were chosen: they create a luminous path to lead you through the loose, ghostly birch trees.
The sight line of the Birch Allee ends at a stone railing between two Tea Houses.

One of the Tea Houses, beautifully created in quarried stone and slate.
The Lagoon: these pools are seen past the railing at the end of the Birch Allee. I was surprised to read on the Library for American Landscape History website that Manning planned this area as a wild garden; to quote them, he planned it "in an approach leaned from his well-known mentor, Fredrick Law Olmstead." That is surprising on two accounts: I was not aware that Olmstead, with his empahsis on parkland was interested in the work of William Robinson, who was the first to call it a "wild garden"; also, there is little of the planned "wild" garden left. Hopefully garden restoration will continue in this area.
Guests seated from a afternoon wedding by the Tea Houses.
Stone Tea Houses are built from the same quarried stone that is seen, and indeed was dug, from the property. The stone provides a cool spot to sit even in the middle of a hot August day.
Potted begonias on the tea house railing. You can see the cut-marks on the stones, as though they are still fresh from the quarry.
My one thought on this August visit was that I would love to come back in May when the lily-of-the-valley is in bloom with the periwinkle!
Thanks for walking the Birch Allee with me!

Read more of my visit to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens :


  1. What wonderful design! I love the simplicity, just perfect. Thanks for showing us this beautiful place.

  2. The silver birches are just stunning, what a lovely tranquil path to tempt you to walk to the end. I was also impressed with the Boston fern in the hanging baskets, they are beautiful.

  3. The birch allee is of an outstanding beauty and the loggia with the Boston ferns, something different, never seen so many ferns in hanging baskets in a row, just magnificent.

  4. Great photos of the birch alley Julie! That is one of my favorite parts of the garden besides the sunken English garden. Outstanding eye with those photos. I love them all.

  5. I will have to note this gorgeous spot....even my husband who caught a glimpse of your post pictures mentioned he wanted to visit this place.

  6. I did the same sort of allee on my property using hosta lanceforia as my ground cover. The understated elegance is amazing


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