Home » Day trips » Autumn day in and around Cold Spring, NY— Stonecrop Gardens; Buddhist monastery

Autumn day in and around Cold Spring, NY— Stonecrop Gardens; Buddhist monastery

By Sandra Hutchinson

During Columbus Day weekend, I spent a pleasant day with a friend in the Hudson Valley, in and around the historic and lively village of Cold Spring. Located on the east side of the Hudson River, directly across the river from West Point in the area known as the Hudson Highlands, much of the village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The central business district contains many nicely preserved 19th century buildings that house antique shops, restaurants and specialty shops. Cold Spring is about 50 miles north of Manhattan, and easily accessible by Metro North Railroad, and many urbanites make their way here for weekend getaways.

On Saturday, the village was bustling with autumn leaf peepers, Hoping for a leisurely lunch, we managed to grab a small table on the porch of Le Bouchon, a cute French bistro at 76 Main Street. The basket of French bread was ample, and I enjoyed a generous portion of perfectly seared salmon with haricots verts and sautéed fingerling potatoes, paired with a nice house Pinot Grigio on this unusually balmy October afternoon. My friend had a croque monsieur, which she pronounced “très bon!”



Plats du jour at Le Bouchon.

Elsewhere on Main Street, the shops were busy.IMG_8935

After leaving the village, we headed several miles east to Stonecrop Gardens, a property well known to plant enthusiasts. Begun as a private garden in the late 1950s, by the late founder of the Garden Conservancy, Frank Cabot, and his wife Anne, the gardens have been open to the public since 1992. The approximately 15 acres of garden areas include diverse plants and garden settings, ranging from an English style perennial garden to woodland and water gardens, to rocky ledges featuring alpine plants. The gardens are tucked behind and around a complex made up of the Cabots’ European style home and outbuildings. There is a therapeutic equestrian program that operates on the property as well.


Stonecrop is open to the public from April through the end of October. There’s much information on visiting on Stonecrop’s Web site, here. One of the most striking things about Stonecrop’s plant collection is the extensive labeling of plants within the gardens. When you enter the garden, you can pick up a list of hundreds of plants that are labeled and identify them by number.


Many of the gardens were designed by English horticulturalist Caroline Burgess, who had worked for the late Rosemary Verey at her Cotswolds property, Barnsley House. (I had the rare  pleasure of meeting Ms. Verey in 1991 at her home!)

On this warm, fall day, we were especially struck by the many Monarch butterflies that were feeding on different varieties of Dahlia in the English flower garden.




This guy/gal should keep the crows away!


There are a number of spots where you can sit and contemplate the gardens.



I’ve always loved scented geraniums, in the Pelargonium family, and Stonecrop has a nice collection tucked into the side of a stone wall behind the conservatory.



An attractive conservatory sits on the edge of a small lake.


Crab apple and rocky pond.


Many species of alpine plants are on display.


Leaving Stonecrop, we decided to venture a few more miles through Clarence Fahnestock State Park, to Chuang Yen Monastery, home to the Buddhist Association of the United States. Set on over 200 acres, the monastery is home to the largest indoor statue of  Buddha in the Western Hemisphere.

The approach to the complex from the parking lot is lined with statues of scholars and individuals believed to be important in the life of Buddha.


The large Buddha statue is housed within this building, the Temple of Enlightenment.




The large Temple of Enlightenment houses an enormous Buddha, said to be the largest indoor Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere. 


Beautifully carved figures adorn the base of the Buddha.


Encircling the rear of the Buddha are thousands of small, apparently identical figures. 

Construction of the several buildings at the monastery began in the early 1980s, and visitors of all faiths are welcome. The monastery is open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm from April 1 to January 1. The monastery’s Web site has information on visiting, vegetarian lunches, and programs, here. Programs include meditation workshops, book study, tours and much more.


Urn filled with incense sticks.

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