Sonnenberg Gardens is the nation’s most popular and well-reserved country estate that was made back in Victorian times. This is a 50-acre site that showcases magnificent formal and informal gardens, the Lord and Burnham greenhouse complex, a historic mansion, and gorgeous views of Canandaigua Lake.
The Queen Anne-style mansion was built in 1887 and used to be Frederick Ferris’s and Mary Clark Thompson’s summer home back in the day. The gardens around the area were built between 1902 and 1920. All of these gardens reflect different styles, including Italian, Colonial, Japanese, and Victorian.
Sonnenberg Garden is located in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine area in New York. This historic park also holds the Finger Lakes Wine Center. The public can access the center during the season, where you can come and enjoy private parties, as well as wine tasting tours where there are more than 40 wineries. If you are planning a wedding or family gathering, this garden is the perfect location.
About the Estate
Sonnenberg Gardens is a 52-acre estate that has 40 rooms and nine gardens. These grounds are magnificent for afternoon and morning strolls, but a tram shuttle will take you to the mansion from the parking lot if you are not in the mood to walk.
Sonnenberg Gardens is popular because of the Lord and Burnham greenhouse, the rock garden, the Japanese garden, and the rose garden.
Located close to downtown Canandaigua, Sonnenberg Gardens will take you through any Finger Lakes area. The nine internationally-inspired gardens here are phenomenal and instantly make any nature lover fall in love. When you walk around the grounds, you will come across a Lord and Burnham greenhouse complex- this complex is one of the five that can be accessed by the public, making it super unique!
The Japanese garden we previously mentioned has existed for more than 100 years. It is a peaceful area where water cascades through a beautiful tree house and under lots of bridges. When you walk through this garden, we guarantee that you will forget all your worries and realize how lucky you are to experience this beauty.
When you visit Sonnenberg Gardens, you cannot miss the Italian garden. The garden has a total of 15,000 gold and red annuals spread over four flower beds. If you are struggling to imagine what this would look like, think about a carpet made with brightly-colored flowers that seems never-ending.
A quick stroll through Moonlight Garden at night will leave you awestruck. Even though it is the smallest of gardens located here, it is just as wonderful. In fact, if you happen to visit in July, you will find the garden decorated with enchanting lights and some music.
History of the Sonnenberg Mansion
The Sonnenberg mansion has faced many ups and downs in the past decades. In 1863, a bank financier, Frederick Ferris, and a New York governor’s daughter, Mary Clark Thompson, purchased the farmhouse. As time went on, the couple kept purchasing land, and eventually, the brick farmhouse was replaced with a Queen Anne-inspired mansion with 40-rooms.
Frederick lived his last days in 1899, and soon, Mary decided to redesign the mansion in memory of him. She grew gorgeous gardens throughout the property. Mary traveled to different parts of the world to gain inspiration for her gardens, and soon, she created gardens that were inspired by the world. Some famous gardens at the mansion include recreations of the Japanese, Victorian, Medieval, English, and Renaissance gardens.
In 2931, the property was taken over by the federal government, and over time, vandalism and neglect were reported. By 1966, local citizens came together to preserve the gorgeous 50 acres that this property held. This was a turning point for Sonnenberg Gardens as by 1973, and a local movement managed to restore the gardens completely, giving the public full access to them.
The inside of the mansion is as beautiful as the outside. Out of the three floors, two of them are open to the public. Unlike other historic homes, you can explore every nook and cranny of the Sonnenberg Mansion.
Why You Should Visit Sonnenberg Gardens
Sonnenberg Gardens is an example of lavish wealth; lucky for you. It is free to explore. The 50-acre property can be explored on foot. However, some places like the Rock Garden and Tea Garden have uneven footpaths, and it can get a little windy, so we recommend wearing the proper gear.
Here is a list of famous gardens here, along with the date they were built:
- Italian Garden: 1903
- Rose Garden: 1906
- Old Fashioned Garden: 1906
- Blue and White Garden: 1912
- Japanese Garden and Tea House: 1906
- Sub-Rose: 1907
- Conservatory Complex: 1915
- Rock Garden: 1920
The Conservatory Complex is a glass conservatory and is one of Lord and Burnham’s best works. Moreover, you must visit the Finger Lakes Wine Center here with its 1911 Tiffany-style window that Pike-Stained Glass Studio made in Rochester, New York.
You can bring your friends and family along for a beautiful afternoon of wine tasting. All you have to do is pay a small fee and make your way to the tasting cellar!