By Nancy E. McCarthy
The perfect time for garden lovers to visit Linwood Gardens is during its annual Tree Peony Festival of Flowers when an impressive collection of carefully cultivated Japanese and American tree peonies are in full glorious bloom. The Arts and Crafts-style country residence of three generations of the Gratwick family sits on eight bucolic acres in Linwood, 35 miles southwest of Rochester in Livingston County. This year the festival dates are May 18, 19, 25, 26 and June 1, 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Boston landscape architect Thomas Fox designed the original formal gardens in the early 1900s for William Henry Gratwick II of Buffalo. Today, the Italian Garden’s brick walkways feature small garden spaces along the center water canals and fountains and the Lily Pool Garden has an outdoor amphitheater under a canopy of trees. The Walled Garden was where vegetables and fruit were grown and a former tennis court is now a labyrinth of stones. Each generation made a mark. William Gratwick III added ornamental trees, shrubs and sculpture and introduced the now renowned peonies. Many of the American hybrid tree peonies, 48 named varieties, are considered rare or unusual as they were hybridized by hand at Linwood Gardens. His daughter Lee Gratwick, who lives on property, spearheads garden restorations and adds her own plantings.
Although Linwood Gardens is a non-profit organization with a mission “to preserve the gardens and the tree peony collection for future generations to enjoy” and listed on the National Register and New York State Register of Historic Places, the house remains a private residence.
The ground floor of the Summer House and the gardens are only open to the public for special events, guided group tours, select Open Garden Days and the Tree Peony Festival. For festival entry: $10 suggested donation, $15 includes an historical tour, cash or check only. Pastries, soup, cheese plates, quiche, bottled water, lemonade, coffee and tea are available for cash purchase from Sweet Arts Bakery of Geneseo from 10-2PM.
For more information visit linwoodgardens.org.