Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Das Alte Haus"

How about these lilacs? These represent about a tenth of what's blooming around the house, lilac-wise. The formal gardens and greenhouses of the past may be long gone, but the lilac bushes are probably grander than ever. The smell, especially on a cool and misty afternoon like today, is divine.

Every May 15th I can put flowers in the porch planters without fear of frost...finally. I haul the wicker seats and sofas away from the wall of the house and have Bill retrieve the cushions from high shelves in the former servant hall. That geranium plant is 25 years old. It would be even bigger had it not blown off the stand last year and broken in half.

Most of my furniture came from Tuxedo Park. I've been sitting on that sofa every summer for 35 years. For the last 29 I've been gazing out at the lawn in front of Daheim.

Here's a portion of the view from the porch. It may not be as manicured as it once was, but it's still lovely, and somehow particularly so on this brooding rainy afternoon.

When Charles F. Dieterich, the builder of this house, had the words "Das Alte Haus," meaning "The Old House," picked out in red and blue and framed above the front door, Daheim was relatively new. By now I guess it really is pretty "Alte." Mr. Dieterich lived here for 38 years; I've lived here for 29, alone nowadays with my cat, a caretaker and a several guests who occasionally occupy far flung guestrooms.


  1. Unless I'm mistaken, your house was also once owned by a consortium that included Walter Teagle, chairman of Standard Oil. He was of my great grandfather's generation, and had a house here also, and I remember that he had a man on payroll, an English landscape architect by training, who was in charge of the gardeners at each of his seven residences, and would travel from one to the other, supervising planting plans, and training in proper maintenace, etc etc.

  2. You are quite right about the Teagle connection. The Daheim estate was purchased in 1929 by the Millbrook Associates, the two senior members of which were Walter Teagle and Garrard Winston. The others apparently fell victim - to varying degrees - of the Depression. During the Thirties and Forties Teagle and Winston continued as joint owners, using the property as a private shooting preserve. Teagle stayed in the Bungalow when he was in Millbrook, and Winston occupied my house. After Winston's death, Teagle continued as sole owner until he died in the early 1960s, after which the estate was sold to the present owners. The sunken orchard adjacent to my house was elaborately maintained during the Teagle years and open to the public on a limited basis, much like Weathersfield today. It was reportedly a showpiece, perhaps to the designs of that English landscape architect.

  3. Almost unbelevable you have overwintered a geranium for twenty five years. Amazing! I am impressed.
    Lovely to see your spring views.

  4. The sunken orchard close to my home had been ornately maintained through the Teagle years and available to the public on a minimal time frame, much like Weathersfield these days. It absolutely was allegedly the showpiece, perhaps on the forms of which Uk landscaping creator.
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