1 Skylands in a 1930's postcard view
2 This is Patrick Chasse, the prominent garden expert, botanist, and landscape architect.
3 Here is Patrick speaking last week at the 24th annual winter landscape design conference held at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.
4 The topic of his discussion was "Skylands: Restoration of a Jens Jensen Landscape", my home in Seal Harbor, Maine. A native of Denmark, Jensen emigrated to the United States in 1884 and focused his attention on outdoor parks and landscape design.
5 Before long, Jensen became the most popular landscape architect in America next to Frederick Law Olmstead, designing hundreds of important landscapes.
6 Edsel Ford, the son of Henry, wanted an estate on Mt. Desert Island and hired the well-known architect, Duncan Candler.
7 In 1910, John D. Rockefeller and his wife, Abby, bought a cottage on a mountaintop on the other side of Seal Harbor and ultimately expanded it into a 107 room estate that they named "The Eyrie", using the services of Duncan Candler, who adhered to a Norman French style.
8 Autos were first allowed on Mt. Desert in 1914 and as you can imagine, the Fords boasted all the latest models.
9 Patrick showed all of the original blueprints for the Skylands property.
10 Candler's design for Skylands was massive, geometric, and horizontal. It appears to grow out from the granite ledge upon which it is built. The granite, by the way, was quarried right on site.
11 In the original plans, the structure was to be surrounded by formal gardens.
12 When Candler handed the project over to Jens Jensen, he quickly altered the plans, getting rid of anything formal. Jensen was interested in indigenous culture and redesigned the grounds with native plantings.
13 This slide shows the circle drive at the front entrance. The trees that were planted there were past their prime and I had them removed.
14 This is what the circle looks like today, lush with native, ferns, Oriental lilies, cotinus, and other plantings that thrive in the area. And yes, that really is a vintage 1958 Edsel Roundup!
15 Another view of the circle - The trees are Picea orientalis Skylands.
16 This is the front entrance of the massive structure, which was flanked last summer with a pair of potted kentia palms.
17 All of the drives are lined with pink granite gravel, which is scooped up every fall and laid back down in the spring, following tradition.
18 These plans are for the garden outside the backdoor.
19 In 1926, The Bar Harbor News, ran a front-page story about the construction of Skylands.
20 This slide reveals how the house was built below the skyline, showing modesty on the Ford's behalf.
21 The stonework at Skylands is impressive, to say the least. The grounds were terraced with walls, like these. Built by men, donkeys, and oxen, they took months to complete. Originally, there was a wooden fence at the top of the wall.
22 I had the wooden fence replaced with large granite stones, fondly referred to in the area as Rockefeller Teeth.
23 A view of those teeth from above - Many kinds of moss blanket the forest floor.
24 Rockefeller teeth also line the driveway. Stones, like these, are found throughout Acadia National Forest.
25 This shows Jensen's vision of natural harmony.
26 The surrounding woods are so inviting.
27 Granite staircases fit into the design so beautifully.
28 More steps in the woods
29 With stairs and paths like these, it's so easy to walk from one building to another.
30 The paths, by the way, are illuminated at night so no one gets lost.
31 An early view of Skylands
32 Patrick visited Skylands in 1990 and took this autumn view.
33 Again, the circle drive and little pool
34 The large terrace with its amazing view
35 Patrick was at my birthday celebration when the terrace was illuminated with string lights.
36 The terrace is paved with granite stones in a "cracked ice" pattern.
37 Another view - The vines are kiwi that flourish in the area.
38 This very accurate sun dial was built above the terrace entryway. However, during daylight savings time, it's an hour behind.
39 The view in 1990
40 The view last summer
41 This slide shows the plans for the western pergola terrace and the garden below.
42 This is a sunny glimpse of the western terrace taken last summer with hanging baskets of Christmas ferns and urns planted with farfugium japonicum and cycads.
43 In the garden beneath the western terrace is a reclining woman called La Riviere, a 1935 bronze by French artist Aristide Maillol. She looks fabulous resting in the native ferns.
44 The original plans showed a small pool somewhere in the woods. Over the years, it dried up and became "lost".
45 With some searching, Patrick helped me find that pool and I had the bottom lined with granite, in the same "cracked ice" pattern as the terrace.
46 Today, the pool is filled with water and is such a peaceful place to visit in the woods.
47 This is the pool outside the back door above that tall stone wall.
48 In this slide, I am discussing this back door area with Patrick. The original plans called for a council ring, which Jens Jensen is known for, based on his studies of Native American ceremonies. I asked Patrick to help me build it.
49 This is Jensen's design for the council ring. The bird-like figures at the top were carved into the granite all around the circle.
50 I altered the original design and repositioned the ring.
51 This was taken during construction.
52 This shows the completed ring with planting design - again, all indigenous species.
53 The council ring fire stone was lit for a party and it certainly was a conversation piece. The pink granite gravel looks great!
54 When not in use, the fire stone is covered with a copper cone.
55 I wanted to gate off the drive to keep cars at bay and the gate was designed using the glass panel above the back door.
56 The completed gate - I love the design!
57 Patrick explained to the audience that I use Skylands for enjoyment, but also as a laboratory for photo shoots and product development. Here we are photographing gorgeous pates for my latest Entertaining book. Later, Patrick came to the party where we served all the food.
58 Here I am with Patrick at Skylands.
59 Patrick explained that I am the perfect steward for Skylands because I understand what this magnificent gem is all about.