At Airlie, we are fortunate to have not just one, but three different gardens, each with its own purpose and unique characteristics. Guests are welcome to visit all of them and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells they discover as they explore.
Located in a secluded corner of Airlie’s front lawn, this garden was designed to attract butterflies. With the organic air of a cottage garden, the quiet babbling of a small stream, natural stone fences, and tranquil surroundings, it is also an attractive spot for humans. A gazebo serves as the focal point of the garden and has become a favorite backdrop for wedding ceremonies and photo sessions.
The garden was dedicated to Roger Tory and Virginia Peterson on Earth Day in 1995. Peterson was a naturalist, artist, and self-taught ornithologist. He developed the Peterson Identification System for identifying animals, and was the author and illustrator of many guides and books, to which his wife Virginia contributed. During his lifetime, Peterson received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The garden serves as home base for the annual Airlie Butterfly Count, a conservation program of The Clifton Institute in association with the North American Butterfly Association.
Since 1998, Airlie’s four-acre organic garden has been providing our kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables to serve to our guests. Working with the culinary team, our gardeners harvest about 4,500 pounds of produce annually for Airlie’s seasonal menus.
The organic garden is also home to 20 community plots for local residents and organizations to hone their gardening skills, share advice with fellow gardeners, and grow food for their own tables.
Several colonies of honeybees provide pollination and contribute to research about regional bee populations.
Guests are welcome to visit the garden and learn about sustainable agriculture and how to apply it to your own garden.
Airlie’s original owner, Harry Connelly Groome, laid out the formal gardens. Over 100 years later, the gardens follow a lot of the same patterns and plotting as Groome’s original plans, including the location of the sundial Groome placed in the herbaceous garden.
In the early 1900s, you could find an apple orchard to the right of the main house, near the formal gardens, which once included an evergreen, rose and herbaceous garden. A small fruit garden with apricots and plums blossomed just beyond it. The sunken rose garden is now a beautiful location for wedding ceremonies.
Guests are encouraged to stroll through and enjoy the formal gardens. During the holidays, they are illuminated with thousands of lights.