Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brucemore Gardens

For our 16th anniversary on Friday evening, my husband and I drove a half hour or so to the city of Cedar Rapids, IA and spent some time walking through the 26-acre gardens of the historic Brucemore mansion estate.

Since we lived in Cedar Rapids right after we were married, it seems appropriate to return to that city for our anniversary. We drove past our old house (a cute little 1930s yellow-brick house on a curvy street), saw a few other places we remembered, and then went out for dinner after visiting Brucemore (not to a restaurant in Cedar Rapids, however, because sadly, most of the independently owned restaurants we remembered have closed in the 14 years since we left...).

But the Brucemore gardens were lovely. The mansion was built in 1884 for Caroline Sinclair, the widow of the owner of a large meatpacking facility, and was (and is still) the most prominent house in Cedar Rapids. It was acquired in 1906 by George Douglas, a partner in what would become the Quaker Oats Company. The Douglas family expanded the grounds and hired landscape architect O.C. Simonds to lay out the grounds in a naturalistic manner. The property was inherited by daughter Margaret (Douglas) Hall in 1937. The Halls were childless and Mrs. Hall left the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1981. A detailed history of the Brucemore gardens can be found here.

Brucemore House, a Queen Anne style mansion built in 1884.

'Blue Moon' wisteria growing on the portico. We once took a guided tour of the gardens and the head gardener told us that she had made sure every other gardener working at the estate understood that the wisteria must be kept in check by annual pruning, in case she was hit by a bus or suffered some other untimely end, so that the plant wouldn't overtake and destroy the historic structure on which it is planted. Its beauty makes it worth the risk, in my humble opinion.
The park-like setting along the curving drive to the house.
A huge Red Oak tree that apparently dates from before the Civil War.
These mature trees were what my husband was most impressed with -- which is
unfortunate, because these are what we are least able to replicate in our own gardens....
The Formal Garden, designed in 1910, is reached through a beautiful white arbor and fence.
The Formal Garden contains beds of peonies, ox-eye daisies, lupines and larkspur, among other perennials and annuals, buttressed by boxwood cones.

A half-circle of irises and daisies.
This is a photo I took in 2010, which shows a much better view of the Formal Garden (the light was not good on this year's visit). Absolutely lovely....
The Cutting Garden. Mine can't even compare to this....
The 1915 Lord & Burnham greenhouse gave rise to serious feelings of dark envy in me. My husband may have coveted the century-old trees in this estate, but this is what I want most....
16 years with a husband who indulges my fondness for
garden visits, as well as helps me with my harder garden tasks.
I hope we have many more years together.
Thanks for reading!


  1. Happy Anniversary!
    What an amazing house and garden!

    1. Thanks, Netty! It's nice to spend some time in other gardens occasionally, as a nice break from toiling in your own garden.... :-)

  2. Happy anniversary! Your day out in Cedar Rapids (lovely name for a town) and visiting that beautiful house and garden must have been enjoyable and inspiring. The wisteria is particularly lovely and the mature trees impressive.

    1. Thanks again, Linda. It was indeed nice to have a day out in a beautiful garden. -Beth