Innisfree Garden is the gift of Marion Beck to Innisfree Foundation, Inc. Its trustees are Petronella Collins, Spencer Davidson, E. Peter Krulewitch, George S. Wislocki, William Metcalfe, Jr., Oliver Collins, Brian Bristol, and Sam Gray.
From 1930 to 1960 Innisfree was the private garden of Walter and Marion Beck. In 1960 Innisfree Foundation under the stewardship of landscape architect Lester Collins opened the garden to the public. Both Beck and Collins saw in Eastern design techniques a way of giving American garden art a new creative impulse and range. Innisfree explores a Chinese garden design concept. Walter Beck devised the term "cup garden" to describe this concept which has origins in Chinese paintings dating back a thousand years. The cup garden draws attention to something rare or beautiful. This special object is segregated by establising an enclosure around it so that it can be enjoyed without distraction. A cup garden may be an enframed meadow, a lotus pool, or a single rock covered with lichens and sedums. At Innisfree the visitor strolls from one three-dimensional picture to another. Streams, waterfalls, terraces, retaining walls, rocks and plants are used not only to define areas but also to establish tension or motion. Although the cup garden idea came from China, Innisfree is, unequivocally, an American garden. the lake is glacial, most of the plant material is native, and the rocks have come from the immediate forest. Beck and Collins have taken what nature provided and adapted the cup garden idea to turn Innisfree into a work of art. Innisfree is held in trust both for the people of New York and for people throughout the world to enjoy and study garden art.
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