Inspiration for the Centre Furnace Mansion gardens reflects the styles that began in the 19th century when Ironmaster Moses Thompson and his family lived in the Mansion.

At that time, landscape gardening trends here and across the Atlantic were shifting from the early formal and more geometric European gardens to a more natural style made popular by the American city park movement. The Thompsons had made significant improvements to the mansion and grounds indicating that they were very aware of landscape and architectural trends of the day.

Landscape designers, like Andrew Jackson Downing, strove to reflect the grand and natural scenes of landscapes in paintings and in literature that were peaking in popularity during the 19th century.  With little photographic evidence or written documentation to go on, decisions were made about the Mansion grounds and gardens based on this historical context.

Plantings have been chosen to suggest what would have been available to 19th century gardeners, with some exceptions, if period offerings were not available.