Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Planting Fields Arboretum & Coe Hall

Coe Hall is a Tudor Revival mansion built in 1904 for the purpose, I can only assume, of thrilling imaginative little girls. I think I reverted about 15 years when I saw it. It puts one in the mind of Thornfield Hall, particularly if one is ready at all times to put in mind of Thornfield Hall, which I am.

Mr. Coe came from England to America in 1883 when he was 15. He worked his way up through insurance and railway companies and eventually became obscenely rich. It's a shame you are never allowed to take pictures inside of places like this, because the inside of Coe Hall was as magnificent as its grounds. It might not be a place you'd actually want to live in for any period, because the rooms are too big to be friendly, but it was marvelous. It was what you imagine a castle to be like when you are twelve. Dark wood panelling, big tapestries, great dining halls, windows of leaded glass and stained glass, stone floors. You could easily imagine Prince Humperdinck living there, although I don't know why you'd want to.

The end of the inside tour brought us into an exhibit about Natalie Coe's marriage to an Italian count, the social event of 1934. What chiefly interested me about this exhibit was a letter on display from Natalie to her husband-to-be. Previous to reading this letter, I thought F. Scott Fitzgerald just didn't know how to write women and made them all sound like airheads because he thought women were shallow. I now realize he didn't make up that "oh darlingest" style, he copied it directly from real life. I don't know whether I am relieved or more concerned.

But back to business. Coe Hall is surrounded by Planting Fields Arboretum, which would be a marvelous place to explore at length in all seasons. Here are a few pictures of the Italian garden, complete with a tea house at one end that I would happily move into at a moment's notice.

If you turned directly around in the last picture, you'd see this path to the house:

Next, the play house. If you think you've never seen anything so adorable, if perhaps slightly too pink, just wait til Old Westbury Gardens. That's a play house. Still, I'd happily move into this if the tea house was taken. I am a big fan of the curving roof; it gives the impression of a hobbit house.

Here's a walkway covered with hemlock, for the fun of it:

You must have known there would be a greenhouse component to all these mansion posts, and here it is. Great big greenhouses beautifully arranged and filled with fascinating plants. I recommend clicking on them and looking at them full size.

There is so much in here that is supremely cool, I have to save it for the next post. I swear it's interesting, please come back.

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