OLD GARDEN, NEW GROWTH
Much like the Richthofen Castle’s structural integrity, the landscape that surrounded the building had been severely neglected for years before we bought the property in 2012. Now, it’s an award-winning garden that’s a lot more in line with the original owner’s intentions.
Baron von Richthofen originally owned 320 acres in Montclair and built a lush, verdant garden around the castle to please his wife Louise. He transplanted trees from other areas of the region, built stables and a greenhouse, created a racetrack, and stocked the property with deer, antelope, and bears for hunting purposes. In keeping with his castle theme, he dug a moat around the property and established a dairy called The Molkery that was meant to help patients with tuberculosis access what was then considered a cure: Jersey Cow milk.
A CHANGING PROPERTY
By the mid-20th century, most of the property around the Richthofen Castle had been sold to developers, including the historic gatehouse, which served as a different family home for many years until we re-annexed it back into the property in 2012.
The Molkery, once located within the castle's property limits, is now the Montclair Civic Building located in Montclair Park.
A NEW PATH FORWARD
Today our castle sits on a 2.5-acre plot walled in by a historic gate. When we began to think about restoring the gardens, we reached out to landscaper Dan DeGrush of Lifescape Colorado to help us think about how to redesign the space in a way that both respected the original landscaper’s design intentions, and made the space modern and functional for our family and friends.
We wanted the garden to feel like it’s been here for hundreds of years, to complement the architecture, and above all, make the castle grounds feel warm, welcoming, and beautiful.
REVITALIZING THE PROPERTY
As a part of the process, we enriched the soil with beneficial bacteria and installed plant beds to help improve the yard’s irrigation. We hand-selected reclaimed bricks and added them to a new driveway so that our home would feel more warm and hospitable (an important consideration when you’re trying to liven up a castle!).
We also planted mature trees and flowering shrubs to bring the yard to life, selecting plants that would bloom throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
A BRAND-NEW HISTORIC GARDEN
We restored a historic fountain to spec, moved it to the front of the property to make it more visible, and planted a formal English knot garden around it to bring a sense of elegance and history to the landscaping. We thought it would be a fun way to give a little nod to the English Baroness von Richthofen’s family heritage (and give our garden a nice water element, too!).
Finally, we installed lighting solutions that would help showcase the castle, the oldest trees on the property, and the sculptures on the front facade. If you’re going to rebuild a castle, you want to show it off!
Now our award-winning outdoor space is as verdant and beautiful as the Baroness hoped it might be. And the best part? The restored yard gives us a lot more room to gather with the friends, family, and neighbors we love — especially at Halloween.