Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, long a jewel of Harford County, has just a bit more luster, thanks to the addition of a butterfly house on the grounds of the estate.
Strictly speaking, the new butterfly house isn't part of the original collection on the property. Harvey Ladew, a World War I veteran who came from a New York family of substantial means, purchased the Monkton property in 1929 and transformed it into an estate along the lines of those maintained by the Brahmin classes of England at the height of the British Empire.
Having no heirs, and having a desire to see the estate preserved for posterity, Mr. Ladew set up a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 to manage the property. The gardens opened to the public that year. Mr. Ladew died in 1976.
Though the butterfly garden is a new addition to the estate, it is very much in keeping with the curios in which Mr. Ladew took an interest.
Though country estates in the Victorian and Edwardian tradition increasingly have faded into history on both sides of the Atlantic, Ladew Topiary Gardens lives on as reminder of what high living was like in an era when modern conveniences like motorcars, telephones and refrigeration were just coming into being. Turns out, the good life in those days was pretty darn good, even without modern niceties.
The addition of a butterfly house, while coming in modern times, certainly is in keeping with the naturalist spirit espoused by Mr. Ladew and others of his class in the early 1900s. It's likely Mr. Ladew would approve.