Blithewood Garden

Blithewood Garden is a formal Italianate walled garden located on the main campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. At 15,000 square feet, it is a garden on an intimate scale within a grand setting: the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. The site has significant connections to the heritage of the Hudson Valley region and the evolution of American landscape design.

Designed by Francis Hoppin in the early twentieth century, the garden's style is typically Beaux-Arts: highly architectural, with paths on geometric axes, symmetrical beds, a central water feature, statuary, and marble ornaments. The walls create a peaceful, green room that looks out over the Hudson River.  The view is framed by a copper-roofed gazebo flanked by two wisteria-covered pergolas. The surrounding lawn areas of the Blithewood property contain many of the campus’s most important and venerable tree specimens, including a former New York State Champion tree that is estimated to be over 300 years old.


The Garden Conservancy celebrates the premiere of the film documentation of Blithewood Garden.

The Garden Conservancy announces a generous gift of $93,000 to Bard College for construction drawings that will be used for the vital rehabilitation of Blithewood Garden. The gift signifies a monumental step in reviving this awe-inspiring oasis and embodies the mission of the Garden Conservancy as the sole national cultural organization dedicated to preserving, sharing, and celebrating gardens across America.

The Garden Conservancy and Bard College selects a winning proposal for the creation of construction drawings for the rehabilitation of Blithewood Garden. The proposal created by New York City-based firms Jan Hird Pokorny Associates (JHPA) and Integrated Conservation Resources, Inc (ICR) represents a select team with extensive experience with historic structures and preservation. Building on the comprehensive research that has already been conducted, JHPA & ICR will render construction drawings for the site’s hardscape elements that can be implemented in phases. 

A new garden tour program is implemented by Garden Conservancy staff in collaboration with the Friends of Blithewood Garden.

The Garden Conservancy solicits bids for professional architectural and engineering services for the rehabilitation of Blithewood Garden.

The Blithewood Historic Vista Restoration project receives a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Hudson River Estuary Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. Slated for completion by spring 2021, the project will reopen a window to the Hudson River from a new perspective.

In September, the Garden Conservancy and Udris Film began production of a short film about Blithewood, which will be a key tool to help raise awareness of the significance of the garden and the urgent need to save it.

The Garden Conservancy hires Albany-based firm Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation, LLP to do design development level drawings and develop repair strategies for the rehabilitation of Blithewood.

Bard College, the Friends of Blithewood Garden, and the Garden Conservancy partner to celebrate Blithewood Garden's 115th anniversary with an afternoon lawn party, followed by a panel discussion, "The Architectural Garden: Challenges of Preserving Formal Structures in the Landscape," on September 22.

Blithewood Garden: Structured Beauty, presented by Bard College and the newly-formed Friends of Blithewood Garden group, is on exhibit in June and July.

Garden Conservancy and Bard College enter into an agreement to work together to develop a strategy to rehabilitate Blithewood Garden. Read the press release.
Bard acquires adjacent Montgomery Place, adding 380 acres and making the campus a total of 930 acres.

Blithewood approaches the Garden Conservancy for assistance with developing a strategy to address restoration of the garden, including formation of a sub-committee of the Friends of Bard Landscape and Arborteum group.

Preservation Master Plan for Bard College is completed; Bard Landscape and Arboretum Program begins documenting its plant collections and individual specimens.

The college campus, including Blithewood Garden, is dedicated to the newly formed Bard Landscape and Arboretum Program.

Bard College sells a portion of the estate.

Captain Zabriskie's son, Christian, formally transfers the Blithewood Estate to Bard College.

Captain Andrew C. Zabriskie purchases the Annandale estate and renames it Blithewood. Gothic house is torn down and Zabriskie commissions Francis Hoppin, a graduate of MIT and École des Beaux-Arts, to design a thirty-room Georgian mansion and Italianate gardens.

The Bards donate 18 acres of their Annandale estate to the nascent St. Stephen's Seminary, which later becomes St. Stephen's College and, eventually, Bard College.

John and Margaret Bard purchase the Blithewood property, calling it Annandale.

Robert Donaldson, Esq., of North Carolina, purchases Blithewood and hires family friend Alexander Jackson Downing and architect A.J. Davis, who make the estate a classic example of American Picturesque style, with a Gothic Revival house set in rolling lawns.

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Help support the restoration of Blithewood Garden

Click here to donate.

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Bard College Arboretum Video

A video about Bard College's arboretum gives a shout out to the Garden Consrvancy and our partnership to restore Blithewood Garden in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Watch it now.

Panel discussion, The Architectural Garden, Sept. 22, 2018
Bard Lifetime Learning Institute

The Arboretum Called Bard