June 1, 2008

Bedford Garden Map


Click on the Map to Enlarge!

Thank you to Carly Blake and Susan Bryan for helping me to create this map.

Continue reading this post for more details..

May 2008 – The 153-acre farm, at the intersection of Maple Avenue,
Girdle Ridge Road, and Route 22 in Katonah, New York, has been
partially restored by a hardworking group of construction teams, farm
workers, and gardeners under Martha’s direction.

Purchased seven years ago from the estate of Ruth Sharp, the farm
comprises several houses and barns, a stable complex, and greenhouses.
The original house, known as the Summer House, was built in 1770. A
later house, known as the Tenant House, was constructed in 1884, and a
larger home, called the Winter House, was built in 1925. The farm was
divided into several family lots, which have now been put back together
into one parcel. This parcel is known as Cantitoe Corners.

To preserve the property’s “village assemblage”—basically a row of
structures along Girdle Ridge Road—the structures were rebuilt and
restored on their original footprints. Despite the buildings’ proximity
to the road, this plan resulted in a quaint and visually pleasing
arrangement. Before the restoration, each house faced the street and
driveways exited to the road. With significant landscaping and
architectural changes, the houses are oriented towards the property’s
interior, providing a bit more privacy and giving each a very different

When the restoration to the buildings is complete and the renovation to
the property itself more defined, the main entrance will be on Girdle
Ridge Road. The houses will be accessed by the one-way carriage road,
which has been constructed as a drive, horse trail, and carriage road.
Four miles have been built, and anyone hiking or riding or driving
along this curvaceous road can see most of the property. More
landscaping is planned, more planting continues, and a reforestation
project has been undertaken.

In an effort to be environmentally responsible, a great deal of
recycling is done on the farm. For example, all dying or fallen trees
are double-ground by a giant tub grinder, creating a mixture we fondly
call “sweet peat.” This is mixed with composted horse and cow manure,
chicken manure, and other materials to create mountains of excellent
rejuvenating soil replenishment. It is used to top dress, enrich, and
rebuild old gardens and woodland plantings.

The carriage roads are topped with recycled asphalt from old roadways,
providing an excellent surface for horses, horse-drawn vehicles, cars,
and pedestrians. The pasture fencing is 100-year-old white spruce
railings from Canada, dropped between new cedar uprights that have been
pounded into the ground. An electric wire runs along the top rail to
keep the horses from rubbing or chewing on the rails.

Once a year, a portable saw mill is used to cut large felled trees (and
there have been many from hurricanes, gales, and other storms) into
usable boards, which are then used for flooring and walls in sheds and
barns. Some of the finest wood has been saved for future furniture
The fields are mowed for hay for the horses and cows. Extensive
vegetable and cutting gardens are being planted for the home and to
delight friends.

The two large greenhouses contain ornamental plants and in-ground
plantings of year-round vegetable crops. We try to grow everything that
piques our interest, and will continue to experiment with a variety of
plant species.

Five Friesian horses, three miniature Sicilian donkeys, and two
miniature white-faced registered Herefords are under the careful
supervision of Betsy Perreten and her crew. Dozens of hens and bourbon
red turkeys provide my friends and me with hundreds of organic eggs a
The gardens are in the care of a grounds crew that carefully tends the woodland, the grass, the pastures, and the roads.

We are in the process of planting many types of trees and shrubs.
Notable is the allée of boxwood that stretches from the stone stable
complex to the east paddock woods—a kind of ode to the Belgian
landscape designer Jacques Wirtz, even though I did not know of his
work until after I planted my allée. Another project recently under way
is the terrace garden west of the Summer House, walled in by a massive
boxwood hedge.

The large azalea plantings and the tree peony border are also worth seeing at the right time of year, mid- to late May.

The vegetable gardens are symmetrical and very productive – from early spring to fall.

Things to visit and enjoy: the stable interior, the clematis pergola,
the old corn crib, the two glass greenhouses, the tropical courtyard
and the Summer House terrace and walled garden (a real work in