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Exploring the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit at The Fells While Enjoying a Picnic at Dusk.
Built in 1891, The Fells, was once the summer home of John Milton Hay, a 19th century American statesman. Today, The Fells, a 22-room Colonial Revival home, sits on 84 conserved acres in Newbury, New Hampshire.
When Hay first purchased the property it was not much more than a cottage. As Hay approached the house by boat, he would have had to hike a small hill to find the cottage perched. From that hill, Hay could look down to view the beautiful Lake Sunapee.
Hays' intentions were to develop a summer colony along with several of his friends, however, with mounting stress from his political works in Washington, Hay ultimately decided the property would become his retreat. He would call this retreat, The Fells, a British term for a rocky upland pasture, which appears suitable even today once you've walked the trails that lead to the craggy shoreline of the lake.
When Hay died in 1905, his son Clarence Hay and his wife, Alice, transformed the cottage into a 22-room mansion. Throughout the years, renovations have taken place on both the house and the land. The John Hay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1987. With the help of administrators, a knowledgeable garden staff and many volunteers, The Fells, operates as a non-profit and welcomes visitors year-round.
The Fells hosts a variety of events taking place within the estate and in various locations on the property, such as the outdoor sculpture exhibit. This annual event features the artistry of both local and regional sculptures. While meandering down the main road toward the house, or traversing the trails, visitors will see works of art peaking from behind trees, stretched along the edge of the fields and arranged amid the many gardens.
There are six main gardens located on The Fells property, each carefully tended to by garden staff. Tours of the gardens are offered, however, guests are invited to stroll through each garden to either admire the meticulous planning or simply enjoy its' beauty.
Aside from the gardens, which are both formal and cottage-style, there are many other species of plants, trees and moss. In my opinion, one of the most amazing can be seen as you approach the mansion. The rhododendron which line the road are immense. They are the largest and the most expansive that I have ever seen.
The Perennial Border- The Rock Garden- The Rose Terrace- The Old Garden- The Pebble Court- The Heather Bed
As you walk the road and paths sculptures can be seen everywhere. Off in the distance, you can see driftwood horses galloping through the fields, tiny woodland creatures made of metal dangling from the branches of nearby trees and even a giant camouflaged sumo wrestler holding what appears to be a rather uncomfortable pose.
Strolling The Fells at dusk has a few rewards. At this hour of the day, there are generally few people sauntering the grounds. It is a perfect time of day to stretch out a blanket and enjoy an evening picnic and, most likely, see a few not-so-timid deer meandering from field to field as you make your way back to your car.
Because there are sculptures placed throughout The Fells, it is best to continually look around. If you've missed a sculpture along the way, you may stumble upon it as the sun is setting, as we did this one.
Navigating Your Way To The Fells:
- Directions, Hours & Fees
If you are from the area, check with your library before traveling to The Fells. Often times, the library can offer free passes or a discounted pass.
makes one drink
- 1/2 ounces Pimm's No. 1 Cup
- lemonade (or ginger-ale)
- English cucumber slices
- Orange slices
In a shaker, add cucumber, orange, a measure of Pimm's, lemonade and ice. Shake gently. Pour into glass. Add additional garnish if you'd like.
Want more Pimm's recipes? I've added a link to the end of this article - Enjoy!
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup leeks (white part only), chopped
- 1/3 cup Vadalia onion, chopped
- 1 by leaf
- 1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cups (plus more, if needed) chicken stock or canned broth
- 2 1/2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
- pinch cayenne, if not using dill
- nutmeg, freshly grated if not using dill or cayenne
- Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, onion and bay leaf. Cover and cook until onion is translucent, stirring occassionally, being careful not to brown the onion or leeks.
- Add potaoes and 2 cups stock. Cover and simmer until poatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaf.
- Mix 2 cups cucumber into cooled soup. Puree soup in blender (in batches) or use an immersion blender.
- Strain through a fine wire sieve into a bowl. Whisk in cream. If necessary, thin with additional stock to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix in chopped dill. Cover and refridgerate until the soup is well chilled.
- (can be prepared a day ahead. This soup will not last long...serve and enjoy within a few days). When serving, garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne or grated nutmeg. For our picnic, I grated a little nutmeg into the soup before pouring into a large jar for easy transport.
Mini Peach Pies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus a little more for rolling
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6-8 Tablespoons iced water
- 2 cups sliced peaches
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 4 inch mini pie or tart pans
4.75 Inch Round Tart Pans
How to make a lattice crust.
1. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Mix until combined. Add butter and mix until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (Pulsing the food processor works best). Add iced water 1 Tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.
2. Remove the dough for the processor and place onto a clean, dry surface. Gently shape the dough into a large ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough for the refrigerator and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut discs large enough to fit your mini pans. Place one disc into each pan and with fingertips, press the dough down and along the sides. Keep the remainder of the dough for a top crust or to make a lattice crust by cutting dough into small strips.
4. Lightly beat the egg and water together and set aside. Toss the peaches, sugar, spices and flour together in a bowl. Place filling inside each mini pie pan. Assemble lattice crust. Firmly pinch the edges of the dough so that they are secure.
5. Brush top and edges of each pie with egg wash. Bake for about 30-40 minutes (depending on size of pies) or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When completely cooled, gently wrap them in parchment and pack.
*Before packing your pies into your picnic basket, generously dust each pie with powdered sugar.
More to see and do at The Fells
In addition to the gardens and the nature trails, The Fells offers a tour of the main house. Special events happen on a regular basis, including a very popular holiday schedule.
When we were there for our picnic, there was a white tent assembled for what had to be a weekend wedding.