Let It Grow


The good, the enlightened of all ages and nations have found pleasure and consolation in the beauty of the rural earth.

— Thomas Cole

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site preserves and interprets Thomas Cole’s Catskill home, a property historically known as Cedar Grove. In the 1830s and 40s, Cedar Grove was an expansive and varied estate of more than a hundred acres, where Cole and other members of the household lived close to nature, surrounded by gardens, fields, streams and forests. Today the scenic landscape that nurtured Cole’s creative genius continues to provide serenity, inspiration and joy to visitors from near and far. As we work to restore and maintain the grounds of this historic site, we are guided by principles of supporting biodiversity and reconnecting people to the natural world.

In today’s scientific view of nature, the surface of the Earth is covered in a web of interconnected ecosystems. Living organisms coexist within ecological communities, structured by a complex network of influences. A wide variety of interdependent lifeforms is fundamental to ecosystem health and sustainability. In this sense, biodiversity is of the essence in nature.

Throughout history and increasingly in recent years, human activity has caused rapid ecosystem change, threatening the planet’s biodiversity. In 1836, Thomas Cole wrote, “The wayside is becoming shadeless, and another generation will behold spots, now rife with beauty, desecrated by what is called improvement.” Indeed, several generations later, our twenty-first-century way of life depends on many practices that lead to pollution, habitat loss, natural resource depletion, and global climate change. 

While the scale and complexity of human-caused biodiversity loss can seem overwhelming, small actions can have a significant positive impact on local ecosystem health. In the spirit of Thomas Cole, we strive to support biodiversity on our grounds by allowing native plants to grow, manually managing invasive species, and mowing grass infrequently. We invite everyone to join us in learning about ecological sustainability and landscaping for biodiversity.

Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life: Childhood (detail), 1842, National Gallery of Art

Rachel StultsLet It Grow