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The first thing nearly everyone does when they visit BEEKMAN 1802 is tour the grounds surrounding THE BEEKMAN MANSION.
In the front of the house stand a towering double row of centuries old maple trees. In the summer, their thick canopy shades the house in a soft green light, and in the autumn the view from the palladian window blazes with orange.
Off to the northwest of the house stands the Beekman Crypt, marked by the tall marble obelisk. During the many years in which the mansion was abandoned, the crypt and the surrounding family cemetery became overgrown with weeds and shrubs, and the structure itself partly collapsed. It has now been completely restored, and the Beekman family gravestones have been collected from their scattered locations and rehoused inside the crypt. Bones that were unearthed during the estate’s restoration have been reburied underneath the crypt’s slate floor. On top of the crypt is a mysterious heart shaped stone, of which many different origins have been imagined.
Just south from there is the pool, from which one can view the entire property, and where we retreat from the summer heat to pit the bushels of pie cherries picked from the massive nearby tree.
Down at the southwestern end of the estate’s yard lies Spring Pond. In the warmer months, chairs set up under the giant willow trees offer perhaps the grandest evening view of the mansion. In the winter the pond is the perfect location for ice skating.
The walk back up towards the mansion is lined on the right by a row of apple and pear trees of various New York varieties. But the most impressive path back to the mansion is directly through THE BEEKMAN MANSION formal garden.
THE BEEKMAN MANSION formal garden echoes nearly the same amount of ground footprint as the mansion itself. A retangle of grass is bounded on all four sides by impressive border beds of hundreds of different perennial flowers. Two sides are guarded by mock orange hedges, the southwestern edge is bordered with rows of hollyhocks, and the edge nearest the mansion consists of hundreds of lilies of different species and colors. The beds just inside the bordering plants hold even more flowers. Different and rare varieties of daffodils, roses, lavender, peonies, and poppies are just some of the varied plantings that keep the formal garden in constant color from early spring until early winter.
LOOKOUT HILL is the highest point on the estate. Located on the northwest corner of the property it is marked by an ancient apple tree. Far down below, at a crossroads, a church steeple rises from the trees. The bell inside was donated by William Beekman.
Adjacent to BEEKMAN 1802, is the Dharma Lee Farm, an organic cow dairy and heritage pig breeder. Several of the neighboring farms and properties are organic, and as a result we’ve all noticed a thriving micro-culture of flora and fauna. Those species most threatened by the slightest traces of chemicals flourish on our organic lands. Fragile Insects (such as Praying Mantis and “Walking Sticks”), reptiles (toads, frogs, and turtles), and butterflies have found a safe haven in our chemical-free fields and ponds.
THE LOWER FIELD is where the goats head to graze on their most adventurous days.
A small circle of maple saplings in the middle of the field is the perfect shady place for a picnic during a walk around the property.
But both people and goats are certain to retreat upfield by sundown when the coyotes run in a pack along the back property line. Their distinctive yips and howls when they’re pursuing prey remind us each night of how much a part of the natural food chain our farm is.
CLOVER HILL is the main haying field for THE FARM AT BEEKMAN 1802. It also happens to be the best sledding hill in the winter, and the best kite flying hill in the spring.
Near the road, in the trunk of an ancient maple tree, a massive bee hive keeps our apple trees and heirloom garden fully pollinated.
The CROWS NEST is the second highest point on the estate. Located at the southwest corner of the property, it offers the most expansive view of THE BEEKMAN MANSION and grounds, including the lower Heron Pond.
On the slope of CROWS NEST is an outcropping of trees and rocks which once likely formed a campsite of sorts. Bottles have been found dating back to the turn of the 20th century, which would time the site to a period when William Beekman’s grandson, Judge Dow Beekman, lived on the property. A cistern is also near the campsite, which is still usable today.
The property edges onto a forest, and in that slim boundary between woods and fields we find some of our most exciting natural discoveries. The first blossoms of the year aren’t found in any of THE BEEKMAN MANSION’s formal gardens, but on this thin strip of land. Both Burgandy and White Trilliums blossom with abandon. As do yellow trout lilies, with their leaves mottled like the skin of a brook trout. Tiny wild strawberries are ready to be picked by Father’s Day, and wild blackberries soon after. In the woods themselves, Soccer Ball mushrooms, named for their size, sprout mid summer after drenching rains.