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Grounds & Gardens

Millbrook Country House is set in 1.25 parklike acres on the edge of the village. From the road, a high painted fence and the entry through it, flanked by carriage lights, are almost all one sees. Inside, the house looks over broad sweeps of lawn dotted with many mature trees, hemlocks, a massive maple, locusts, concolor firs, and a Norway spruce planted in the 1880s.

The landscape is lent color variety in spring by an ornamental cherry, forsythias, lilacs, and crabapples; in fall, by the brillant foliage of silver and sugar maples.

Set well away from the house, garden furniture arranged under two venerable maples ensures an extra measure of privacy for conversation, reading, and the close study of squirrels vying with birds at several feeders. Also on the rear lawn are benches from Villa Benassi and a stunning sculpture by Woodstock artist Anthony Krauss.

Nearer the back of the house is a picket-fenced flower and herb garden where guests love to wander. Here, in turn, daffodils, phlox, daisies, and lilies bloom alongside peonies, monkshood, and meadow rue. Tarragon, basil, rosemary, and other herbs for the kitchen occupy the central plot, and large terra-cotta jars from Tuscany anchor the garden's paths. Throughout typically mild summers, when dawdling becomes a prime activity, nasturtiums trail over the fenceposts and morning glories, honeysuckle, and clematis climb a twig canopy set over a mahogany bench designed by Jennifer Stengle. (A graduate of Cornell's landscape architecture program, Jennifer also designed the original garden.)

Against the rear facade of the house, summer- and fall-blooming clematis grow on trellises, while ivy and impatiens spill from kitchen windowboxes. Beds of annuals are planted near the brick patio, where breakfasts are served in fine weather (and hovering hummingbirds and monarch butterflies grab attention). As temperatures dip, long-blooming star anemones, autumn joy sedum, and ornamental grasses fill out the final the growing season.

Anthony Krauss, a resident of Woodstock, New York, has been working for years in a highly personal style to create large installations combining woods, steel, and tinted Plexiglas. His innovative use of geometric forms, especially diagonal elements, results in exciting kinetic illusions, and his reflective surfaces mirror the changing seasons and ambient movement. (Early morning and sunset in our garden can be a veritable light show.) In 2001 Anthony received the Lorenzo de’ Medici prize at Florence’s international biennial show of contemporary art, only one of many accolades he has received throughout his career. He is a great believer in bringing young people into intimate contact with sculpture, has worked with elementary school children on special outdoors projects, taught at colleges and universities worldwide, and is collected by numerous individuals, corporations, and museums, from New York to India and Japan.

Parking is entirely on site, most of it at the end of the long gravel drive that curves around to the rear, where dry walls and stone paths lead up to the gardens.