About the Catalog
When we met Innisfree Curator Kate Kerin and Oliver Collins four years ago, we told them how for years we led wildflower hikes for the New Jersey Audubon Society. Standing in the parking lot Oliver pointed to a stalk of pale yellow flowers 30 yards away shaded in the woods. “Do you know that flower?”he asked. Fortunately we did, and that began an association and friendship that produced the Catalog.
For three years we walked the full circuit of Innisfree nearly once a week from opening day to closing, with Newcombe’s Wildflower Guide and camera in hand. On every visit we saw something new. The flower we had found here often showed up in a completely different there, and just as lovely. We learned that if your photo wasn’t good enough you had to wait a year to improve it. We came to appreciate Lester Collins as a kindred spirit, who sought to include wildflowers in his designs the same delightful way we love to find them. Viewing his many decades of landscape artistry we have shared a love for wildflowers with him and his successor stewards of Innisfree. It has never been an effort; always an infusion of joy for the spirit. We are grateful for the opportunity to assemble the Catalog. — George Petty and Marilyn Katz
Seasonal Wildflower Catalog
Though notably influenced by Asian garden traditions, Innisfree landscape architect Lester Collins had a precise knowledge of the habits of native American plants and included them in his designs. Visitors to Innisfree will be surprised to find that forty percent of the lovely flowers they see are wildflowers. Some have been seeded naturally by the wind, birds or animals. But many of the most striking plants were sited carefully to help them thrive beyond their natural range.
The Innisfree Catalog of Wildflowers lists 125 species of plants that have grown in the woods and fields of Dutchess County or nearby regions. But it is hardly complete. Unlisted wildflowers are discovered with surprising regularity. It is an ongoing project in need of a cohort of cataloguers to find new species and improve the descriptions of listed plants. It is delightful work that contributes to botanical science and gives a wonderful lift to the spirit.