Living Collections

Explore Brucemore's historic gardens, plants, and trees

Landscapes are a living, breathing entity made up of living collections — the plants, trees, and gardens that help us understand the appearance and use of the estate historically.

The ongoing care required in tending for the living collection reflects the natural evolution of time and weather:

  • The seasonal cycle begins in the winter when gardeners start seeds and tend to cuttings in the greenhouse.
  • These preparations yield results in the spring as planting, tending seedlings, weeding, and edging occur.
  • When the summer rolls around, the greenhouse is empty and the garden is growing. Pears and apples begin to ripen while raspberries and vegetables are starting to be harvested.
  • By the time autumn arrives, the gardens are raked and cut back and plants and cuttings are returned to the greenhouse for the winter.

Explore Brucemore's living collections to gain a deeper understanding of the landscape's history.

Spotlight: The Night Garden

Specialized gardens were common elements in landscapes developed during the Country Place era. Situated just south of the Formal Garden on a gentle rise overlooking the pond, Brucemore's Night Garden is one such example.

The Night Garden is comprised of light or white colored flowers and/or foliage; the monochromatic plantings were chosen for their reflective quality. The intent of the Night Garden is to be viewed when the sun is either setting or rising and when the moon is large and bright — during these times, the garden glows.

Read more about the Night Garden at Brucemore

Texture and scent add to visual appeal

The Night Garden was originally planted in 1910, at the same time as the Formal Garden. The entire landscape, including all of the estate's specialized gardens, was designed by O.C. Simonds, a prominent Prairie Style landscape architect.

As is characteristic with Simonds's ideology, the Night Garden design is structured into an outdoor room. The room structure of this specialty garden is created by geometric beds with a few strategic shrubs planted on the perimeter to conceal the space within.

Centrally placed white furniture allows the casual visitor an opportunity to pause and enjoy the sights and fragrance that fill the small room.

Sweet pepperbush or summersweet (Clethera alnifolia), a small shrub native to the eastern seacoast, blooms profusely during the summer months and radiates a sweet floral scent over the entire area for weeks. The heart-shaped leaves of forget-me-not (Brunnera macrofila) contribute texture and a frosty color.

Other shrubs, perennials, and annuals provide visual and aromatic interest throughout the entire growing season.

Changing families, changing lifestyles

The Night Garden was removed in the late 1930s or early 1940s when ownership of the estate changed and America's resources, both material and manpower, were scarce. George and Irene Douglas loved to entertain, and did so extravagantly in the gardens whenever possible.

When the Douglas's daughter and her husband, Margaret and Howard Hall, inherited the house, their quieter lifestyle may have played a role in the removal of the Night Garden. The Halls, in contrast to the Douglases, hosted casual gatherings around the swimming pool.

The reconstruction of the Night Garden began in the spring of 2004. Over the last few years, the final plantings were installed and have matured so that once again, the Night Garden is concealed from the Mansion view and beckons for entertaining in the spirit of the past.

A closer look

Select an image for a detailed view:

Support Brucemore's ongoing preservation efforts

Preserving Brucemore's built and natural assets is an act of unconditional stewardship. Participate in the rehabilitation of the buildings, gardens, and grounds by making a one-time or annual gift to our preservation projects.