Innisfree Garden is located near Millbrook, NY. Millbrook is a small village near the eastern-most border of New York State. It was first settled by the Quakers and is now considered one of the richest towns in the state. Innisfree Garden is located at 362 Tyrrel Road, west of Millbrook proper.
Innisfree Garden was begun by Walter and Marion Beck in the 1930s. Walter Beck originally planned an English style garden, but this was uprooted when he came across the ancient Chinese artist Wang Wei. Wang Wei was an 8th century Chinese poet and artist. Beck was taken by his aesthetic concepts and decided to develop a garden using the techniques and ideals that Wang Wei utilized. Wang Wei's paintings influenced certain styles of landscape art that featured strong, large brush strokes. Lester Collins, a landscape architect, met Beck in the late 1930s and he began to cultivate Beck's ideas. Beck died in 1954 and five years later the Innisfree Foundation, Inc was created and the gardens were opened to the public.
Innisfree Garden was named after a William Butler Yeats poem entitled The Lake Isle of Innisfree. The dominant concept that grounds the Innisfree Garden is the "cup-garden.'' This principle was used by Beck and Collins to create "portraits'' that are connected via walkways. These portraits include asymmetrical landscape items such as rocks and trees which represent the concepts of yin and yang.
The Garden is situated near Tyrrel Lake. Tyrrel Lake is a glacier-formed 40-acre lake that also provides water to a hillside reservoir. The area is a wooded area, with the Garden flourishing in a hollow near the lake itself.
The 150-acre Garden features many items that were collected from the local area. Since Tyrrel Lake was glacier-formed, the rocks in the surrounding area are limestone, granite, and quartz and have been strategically placed to accent and highlight the natural beauty of the Garden. Water plays an important role as utility and as aesthetic in the Garden. There are several man-made waterfalls, sculptures, and fountains that are found in many sections of the Garden. Visitors can explore the Bog Garden, The Point, Terraces, and other portraits.
The Garden is open from May to October, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10am to 4pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, the Garden is open 11am - 5pm. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Admission to the Garden is $4 during the week and $5 on weekends. More information can be obtained by calling 845-677-8000. Visitors to the Garden are allowed to take photographs, but not for commercial use. Fires, swimming, littering, and throwing stones are not permitted.
Visitors are invited to become members of the Innisfree Foundation and support the Garden. Individual memberships are $20 and the member receives unlimited free visits to the Garden for one year. Donations upwards of $20 are tax deductible. For more information, interested parties may write: Innisfree Foundation, Inc., RR2 Box 38A, Millbrook, NY 12545-9608.