Thomas Sears designed a formal garden that related architecturally to the family home and to other landscape features of the estate, incorporating elements of Japanese architecture and classical European gardens with plants from Japan, along with native southeastern plants, and the newest specimens.
Pergolas, like this one, appear frequently in paintings of the period to provide a background for classically attired models looking wistfully out to the Mediterranean. Trips to Italy in the late 19th century inspired Americans to publish books on Italian gardens, and soon an Italian garden (today described as a Classical Revival garden) like this one became the craze. The pergola looks across three allées. The grand allée of Japanese cedar trees runs down the center reaching from the conservatory to a fountain backed by Japanese-style tea houses, dividing the main garden into two distinct areas—one for beauty, the other for practicality.