gardens

Vintage Voyage: Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens, Canandaigua, NY

Monday, July 06, 2009

One of my favorite places to visit is a late 19th century mansion and grounds in Canandaigua, New York. Sonnenberg, as the estate is called, is simply breathtaking. While the home itself has charms all its own with its beautiful woodwork and open spaces, the grounds make the visit entirely worthwhile.
A Queen Anne style mansion built in 1886 by the governor of New York and his wife, Sonnenberg boasts 40 rooms, many of which are furnished with turn of the century objects and are open to the public. One of my favorite, shown above, is the study. Like many rooms in the mansion this room has a warm glow, many windows, a fireplace and beautiful architectural features. 
Sonnenberg also has nine themed gardens filled with fantastic sculptures and water gardens. Pan, shown above, is in the most unusual, called the Rock Garden. The gardens date from the years following the construction of the house and are still rather well maintained. In the ten years that I have been visiting Sonnenberg it has become painfully obvious that funding has become an issue. Many of the lavish water features are now dry or no longer run as they once did. While this decline is unfortunate, the gardens are still very impressive. Other gardens on the property have classic themes, such as the Blue and White Garden, which holds the romanesque statue below, and the formal Italian garden. Other gardens have floral themes such as the Rose and Sub-Rosa Garden and the Pansy Garden. Most intriguing is the Japanese garden that contains many authentic pieces that were actually imported from Japan.  
Also on the property is a greenhouse complex which is remarkable. The greenhouses on the property are filled with plants that are over one hundred years old, most of which are quite exotic. The greenhouses are segregated into plant type, the cactus house is hot and dry while the orchid house is warm and moist, both are equally beautiful. Most of the greenhouses are still used in growing the plants that decorate the lavish grounds or to cultivate plants to sell to visitors. Below is the fountain the the main greenhouse which holds some of the oldest plants I have ever seen. 

Below is a slideshow of some of the highlights of my last visit to Sonnenberg. For more information on Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens please see their website.

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