Just beyond the Sunken Garden, a loosely planted Walking (or Wild) Garden once provided a gentle transition from the domestic area to woodlands and an adjacent sheep meadow. Now rustic and overgrown, at one time this spot was a significant part of the landscape, offering the family a quiet, intimate space for walking or repose. While this garden is not yet accessible to the public, what remains of it can be viewed from the driveway.
The Wild Garden, by William Robinson
The Walking Garden reflects the influence of Irish-born landscape designer William Robinson (1838–1935), author of The Wild Garden, a landmark book first published in 1870. At the turn of the twentieth century, many estate owners adopted his concept of the wild woodland garden as a landscape ideal. Plantings were less formally structured and incorporated more natural elements, rather than the formal and structured beds of the time. The Walking Garden was an attempt to apply some of the concepts that Robinson promoted.
The Walking Garden Today
Each year, Master Gardener volunteers work in the area to clear invasive plants, unearth stone paths that once meandered through the fully-planted beds, survey the area and inventory existing plants. The hope is that one day this area will be renovated to be a usable part of the grounds, where the serenity and peacefulness of the space can be enjoyed by visitors once more.
These images of the Walking Garden are held in the Hill-Stead archives. They are undated and the photographer is unknown, but they are believed to have been taken around 1910.