The grass is definitely greener at Lyndhurst. Begun in 2017, Lyndhurst’s expansive overhaul involves a myriad of local organizations, artisans, workers, donors, and experts pioneering improvements ranging from a restoration of the mansion’s towering greenhouse to replanting entire orchards. Although the update’s various phases won’t conclude until post-2027, some of Lyndhurst’s most eye-catching enhancements are now ready for wandering eyes.
The overhaul’s first phase, which comprises a restoration of the mansion’s lower landscape, whimsical rockeries, kitchen garden, and cherry orchard, was completed in 2018. While this year, the second phase — a refurbishment of the mansion’s landscaping and rose garden — is drawing to a close. This includes adding benches and urns to the rose garden, installing diamond pane panels around the mansion’s veranda, replanting wisteria, and the addition of sculpture and fountains, among several other improvements.
According to Lyndhurst executive director Howard Zar, the grounds overhaul is among the most vital elements of the larger project. “One of the things I realized when I got to Lyndhurst is that a lot of people in the area come here to hike, bike, walk their dogs, and run; it occurred to me that it is actually these people who might be coming to Lyndhurst literally every day of the week,” explains Zar. “I realized that the most visible part of Lyndhurst is the outside and not the inside, and that is when I felt that we have to really look at this landscape and turn our attention to it.”
Zar and his colleagues did just that, using period photos, a historical landscape report, and color imagery to ensure that the overhaul remains as faithful to the 1840 design as possible. Next on the docket is the reproduction of a fanciful treehouse and replanting of a pear orchard. The entire project amounts to a virtual passageway to another time.
“You don’t have to take a tour of the mansion and hear about the family and the artwork and the architecture to really learn how people lived in the 19th century,” shares Zar. “When you experience these different parks and smell the breeze and see the animals on the property, that is the way people entertained themselves before we had radio, television, movies, computers, and iPhones. It is really reconnecting you with the sensibilities that were prevalent 150 years ago. So, if you come and do nothing but relax amid the landscape, you actually have had a historic experience.”