In 1919, Mary Harkness commissioned Beatrix Farrand to convert a beech- bordered tennis court to a formal flower garden at the southeast corner of the Mansion. During the Harkness’s travels to the Far East, the couple had acquired a collection of oriental statuary (primarily Korean) that Mary wished to have showcased in the new garden.
Beatrix Farrand designed an English style garden in colors of purples, pinks, soft yellow, and white to evoke a feeling of serenity to compliment the Asian statutes. A marble story monument depicting the “Seven Ages of Woman” stood at the north end of the garden. Statutes representing the individual “Ages” were spotted along the garden’s borders.
A pool with a jade pebble base was incorporated into a sunken garden at the center of the new East Garden. A single jet of water from the pool’s fountain broke the silence in the tranquil surroundings. A handsome granite wall enclosing the space was installed after the garden was completed. Farrand personally supervised its installation.
The East Garden was filled with Mrs. Harkness’s favorite flower, heliotrope. grown as both topiary and bedding plants. Today, heliotrope’s heady vanilla scent strongly wafts in the foggy morning air delighting Harkness visitors as it once did Mrs. Harkness.. The original heirloom strain of heliotrope has been propagated on the estate for 100 years, first by the Harkness’s Italian gardeners, next by Park staff and today by Friends of Harkness volunteers in a restored section of the Lord and Burnham Greenhouse.