Shelburne Museum's gardens and grounds, like its other collections, are designed to offer enjoyment, information, and an opportunity for relaxation and reflection. Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) worked with Long Island landscape architect Umberto Innocenti to create a setting in which the past could be better understood, designing uncluttered sweeps of open lawn, panoramic views, and a range of plantings that offer enjoyment throughout the seasons.
The large maples and locust trees on the northern end of the grounds are original to the site. Close to four hundred lilacs, in ninety varieties, were planted near house foundations. Apple varieties such as McIntosh and Cortland were added to enliven open spaces, while pines, hemlocks, spruces, and cedars were moved to the Beach Lodge and Gallery basin to suggest the forests of New York's Adirondacks.
Some gardens have a specific function, while others highlight color, pattern, or design. Rosebushes line many of the roads and walkways. Extensive peony and daylily beds, kitchen gardens, and thematic plantings inspired by the art and objects in the Museum's collection introduce floral beauty, texture, and scent to every corner of the grounds.