The Home as Castle at the 2012 Mansion in May

Photo courtesy of Dan Chomuk of Cording Landscape Design
I missed the press event for this year’s Mansion in May, but am hoping to see it later this month. A designer showhouse and gardens presented by the Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center, the setting is a spectacular castle near Morristown’s fabulous “Millionaire’s Row.”  Sixty landscape and interior designers have done a superb job and the $30 ticket price goes to support a good cause --- the new Inpatient Hospice and Palliative Care Center. The mansion and grounds, Glynallyn, are open now through May 31st.

Set on seven acres of terraced gardens the estate, named Glynallyn, is a 32,000 square foot manor home modeled after the English castle Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire England, a favorite of the British royal family. Glynallyn is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and is considered one of the most impressive examples of English Tudor architecture in the United States.

It was the brainchild of George Marshall Allen, a wealthy New York businessman His goal of creating a majestic home to resemble a weathered, 400-year old castle was achieved in part through his selection of old, irregularly shaped materials and by his insistence upon concealing anything that appeared modern, including the fire hoses that he hid behind carvings and doors on every floor.

Many of the artistic elements were imported from Europe, and most can still be seen today, including hundreds of magnificent stained glass windows, gargoyles, carved wood mantles and paneling, elaborately carved plaster moldings, and custom wrought iron lanterns crafted to look like London street lights.  Fans of “Downton Abbey” will notice many similarities to the home featured in that TV series.

But I especially look forward to seeing the 17 gardens nestled around the house. There’s always some clever idea that can be incorporated in my own garden, though of course, on a much more modest scale (see ) Hopefully, there will be something to add to my “garden design with spirit in mind” approach…..

It's wonderful to see the progress of the garden elements of The Mansion in May throughout the years. Specific vignettes from past shows have stuck in my mind and I return to them again and again for inspiration. These types of display gardens are a great resource for generating ideas and for finding a designer or landscape architect whose sense of style matches your own.

Thanks to all of the designers, publicists, and volunteers who share their time and expertise with me. For more details, go to . This year, the website boasts an interactive tour that shows “before” photos of each space, so you can plot out your favorite rooms in advance, if you wish.

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