A Trip To Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens


Well…it’s been a month. The holidays are always a crazy dash and December literally FLEW by. Between getting ready for Christmas, holiday travels, and short work weeks, the past month was a whirlwind. As much as I love the Christmas season, I’m always happy when it’s over. Back to normalcy, back to reality, back to routine. And unfortunately here in New York, back to the coldest temperatures EVER (although this week, it’s warming up to the 20s and 30s…woot woot!).

Have you ever visited a place and you are overcome with emotion from the beauty of it? Completely speechless, in awe that something this amazing exists and that you are standing right in the middle of it? For me, that place is the gardens of Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens in Canandaigua. The historic mansion was opened up for the holidays and was decorated in the traditional Christmas style, so we braved the cold temperatures and ventured to the mansion and gardens we knew little of.

Lord and Burnham Greenhouses

The greenhouses immediately blew me away. Old, Victorian, glass-paneled greenhouses lined the entrance, and I later learned these are some of the few remaining intact Lord and Burnham Greenhouses in the United States. The white paint on the wooden frames was chipping ever so perfectly – giving the impression that it was meant to be that way. The carved wooden signs above each door gave a glimpse as to what was inside the fogged up windows. My favorite greenhouse had bursts of bright greens, oranges, and yellows on the inside, completely alive with plants despite the dormancy of the outside world. I was just in awe of how gorgeous they were (and am now completely convinced that I need an antique greenhouse in my future life).

In love with how the light reflected off of each greenhouse panel. It felt fairy-esque


Peeking through the fogged up windows of a greenhouse
This signage!


A Brief History of Sonnenberg

Sonnenberg had been privately owned since the 1800s, and after falling in a state of disrepair, was bought by the state department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to keep it afloat. There is very little money allocated to the gardens, so it relies on visitor admissions, special events, and school tours to operate, and what a treat it was to be able to view it. There are certain things that I am always happy to put my money towards, and historical preservation of such a gem is one of them.

What’s so interesting about Sonnenberg are the nine gardens it boasts, all with a different theme. My favorite (obviously) was the Greenhouse Conservatory Complex, but probably the most impressive was the Japanese garden. Back in the 1800s, the family had created little rolling hills, a pond, a bridge, and a pagoda to mimic a real Japanese garden, and even in the dead of winter, it was gorgeous.

I also loved the smallest garden there, the Moonlight garden. It had this winding, hidden trail back to a picturesque bench. All the flowers there would have been blue and white and only bloom in the evening or night. I can only imagine what a beautiful moonlight walk that would be!

Anyways, we loved our winter visit and can’t wait to go back in warmer months and see the glory of Sonnenberg in full bloom. Those greenhouses though…I still get a little breathless when I think about them. So inspiring.

The Japanese Garden
Beautiful main room of the mansion
I thought this statue was hilarious! He was hidden behind a giant Christmas tree.

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