a native plant wonderland.

Stoneleigh enjoys a long history as a palette for notable landscape architects. Today, our gardens interpret this historic landscape through a contemporary lens, one that emphasizes beauty, biodiversity, and supporting our local ecology.

Entrance Garden

David Korbonits

The gardens in and around the entrance and parking lot are a great example of functional beauty. We designed them to collect and filter rainwater that flows off the asphalt, but the hard-working plants there are so lovely many people are surprised to learn of the garden’s purpose.

Carefully chosen and curated plant collections fill rain gardens, bioswales, and basins. Water collects and is cleaned as it slowly percolates down through the plants’ roots before it enters nearby waterways. All the water that falls on this part of Stoneleigh eventually enters the Darby Creek and then the Delaware River, so managing it wisely is essential to hundreds of thousands of neighbors downstream.

Great Lawn

David Korbonits

The Great Lawn provides a sweeping view up to the Main House, a 19th century Tudor Revival-style mansion. Designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers in the 1920s, the Great Lawn looks true to its name: just a lot of grass. But historical photos show how the space was carefully graded and the spoils used to create berms along Spring Mill Road. The towering trees that now frame this entire section of Stoneleigh are the mature outcome of the landscape design that the Olmsteads envisioned 100 years ago.

Contemporary additions to this garden include new pops of color—trees with bright foliage or darker colors that contrast with the original green. You’ll also notice the no-mow edge. This intentional design choice creates a sense of space and dimension, boosts the lawn’s ability to support biodiversity, and reduces the need for fossil fuels and staff time. Our resident birds appear to love the change—from the insect eaters who forage amongst the tall grass to the hawks and other raptors who prey on the small animals who make their homes there.

The Terraces

Samantha Nestory

A special space that transitions guests from the Great Lawn to the Main House, the terrace gardens are like little jewelry boxes, planted with small species and cultivars that can be appreciated by close inspection at a leisurely pace.

Columnar junipers and ‘Slender Silhouette’ sweetgum trees create a vertical element within the plantings and add formality against the imposing stone backdrop of the Tudor Revival-style building.

Towering over the terrace is the remnant of a giant London planetree—close cousin to the native American sycamore—which is now a tree sculpture that offers unique beauty and benefits. Weakened by disease, the tree was scaled back dramatically and now stands as an example of the value of dying and dead trees to the environment.

Catalpa Court

David Korbonits

Named for the massive catalpa tree that shades this area and the tennis court the space once held, Catalpa Court is Stoneleigh’s water garden. The space includes a chemical-free, cascading-edge fountain that uses plants for filtration, offering habitat for birds, amphibians, and other wildlife.

And new habitat brings more biodiversity. The introduction of water to Stoneleigh has attracted new species of animals we had never seen here before; dragonflies and damselflies now abound.

The wildlife hedge that borders this area creates a cozy garden room. Beams that once topped the Pergola find new life here as posts for climbing native vines.  Picnic tables under a shading pavilion welcome guests to rest for a moment—or for a meal—and to enjoy this tranquil spot.

Pool House & Bog Gardens

Benjamin Szmidt

A pair of weeping river birch trees create an all-natural gateway to the intimate Pool House and Bog Gardens. Circular bog plantings are set into bluestone patio, which is in the shape of the swimming pool that was once here. These circles reflect the Circle Garden a few steps to the west and are the only part of the garden that receive regular irrigation, creating a mini-wetland environment. They are filled with pitcher plants, sundews, and other moisture-loving native plants that have adapted to low nutrient-growing conditions by trapping insects and absorbing their minerals.

A hedge of white pine and arborvitae separates this garden from the Great Lawn and gives it its cozy feel. Make sure to check out the hedge from the other side, where you’ll find individual pines and arborvitae that look like they’ve jumped out of line—our garden designer’s imagination how a typical, tried and true evergreen screen might be “deconstructed.”


David Korbonits

Restored and enhanced in 2019, the Pergola is one of our most charismatic gardens and is an original design feature dating to the early 20th century. It reflects the “Beaux Arts” period of garden design, which emphasized formal geometry, defined garden “rooms,” and symmetry. The 200-foot long Pergola’s evenly spaced posts create a rhythmic quality, drawing your eye the length of the structure.

The unique aspect of Stoneleigh’s Pergola is that it’s plantings are composed of all native species. Twenty different native vines collide and cascade. Shrubs and woody plants planted in line with the Pergola’s posts underline its symmetry and rhythm. A modern bench at the end beckons our guests to come and sit a spell, a nod to the 21st century in the midst of this traditional garden element.

Circle Garden

Mark Williams

At the turn of the 20th century, George F. Pentecost and Ferruccio Vitale designed a series of Beaux Arts-style gardens at Stoneleigh. This formal, neoclassical style of architecture gained popularity in America following the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Circle Garden is a remnant of this time.

This garden has grown 100 years beyond the garden’s design intent, which makes it one of the most magical spaces in all Stoneleigh. Inviting stone walls are surrounded by century-old arborvitae and false Cypress, which were designed as standard evergreen specimens but were allowed to grow for decades without any shearing. Their branches lean over the walls with multiple arms—like an arboreal octopus—in a way you won’t see anywhere else.

The Circle Garden allows your eye a calming rest from the exuberance of the adjacent Pergola and wildlife hedge. The turf that was once used for croquet and family gatherings is now a wonderful space for us to host our community, through performing arts and other special events.

Wildlife Hedge

Samantha Nestory

Hedges are import elements of landscape design; they provide screening, direct movement, define spaces, and suggest boundaries.  Stoneleigh’s hedge is an unconventional interpretation of this classic garden feature.

Instead of using one species—such as arborvitae—we have planted dozens of varieties of native trees, shrubs, perennials, and vines. This diverse plant palette not only offers more color, texture, and beauty throughout the year but also provides important shelter, nesting areas, and sources of food for songbirds, small mammals, insects, and other wildlife.

Hedged to eight feet tall, this garden feature’s plant variety adds to its wildlife benefits and makes it more resistant to disease than a single specimen hedge.

Meadow Vista

Cheryl Pauley

The Meadow Vista, an Olmsted Brothers design, represents the longest view at Stoneleigh—from the Main House to the berm of trees planted in the 1920s to buffer the garden from busy Montgomery Avenue. You’ll notice as you experience the depth of the garden that the lower section is planted with native wildflowers and grasses similar to what you’d find at a Natural Lands nature preserve.

The upper section is in no-mow turf—for now—with full meadow restoration in the plans. Both offer beauty and essential nesting areas and food for songbirds, flower nectar for pollinators, and shelter for insects—the foundation of our food web.

Coal Chute Garden

David Korbonits

When Stoneleigh’s gardeners were first working in this area, they struck something with their shovels and discovered an old hatch and coal chute that led to the basement of the Main House. Historically a spot with a utilitarian purpose, we’ve reimagined it as one of our most exuberant garden spaces.

This garden area is a great representation of Stoneleigh’s love of diversity: forms, textures, colors, and bloom periods. More is better, when it comes to this space.

finding your way