Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day 2018

Sunday, June 24, 12:00 – 4:00 pm – Rain or Shine

Hill-Stead Museum
Hill-Stead Museum’s Sunken Garden

Enjoy this special state-wide celebration of Connecticut’s stunning historic gardens. Member sites host special events and activities celebrating their gardens. Choose the gardens in your own backyard, or plan a daytrip to see those further afield.


Events will take place RAIN OR SHINE, though activities may vary depending on the weather.


Below you will find a selection of activities to be held at member garden sites.


Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, Bethlehem

Discover the treasures of the Bellamy-Ferriday estate. Stroll through the formal parterre garden designed by Eliza Mitchell Ferriday between 1915 and 1918. Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic house tour.


Butler-McCook House & Garden, Hartford

Walk through our historic Jacob Weidenmann Garden that was installed by Eliza Butler McCook and her sister Mary in 1865. Today the garden is lovingly maintained by the West Hartford Garden Club. Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic house tour.


Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme

Visit the gardens and landscape that inspired a generation of artists. Enjoy refreshments on Miss Florence’s porch. Get creative and pick up all the painting supplies necessary to make your own masterpiece in the garden or down by the river. Discover more about the landscape using one of the Museum’s “Explorer Kits.” Have lunch at Café Flo. Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic house and art gallery. This year’s summer exhibition, Flora/Fauna: The Naturalist Impulse in American Art, will be of particular interest to garden lovers!


Glebe House Museum and The Gertrude Jekyll Garden, Woodbury

Garden volunteers will be giving tours through the Gertrude Jekyll Garden and answering your questions about Miss Jekyll’s design and the history of the garden at The Glebe House Museum. Admission to the garden is free, but donations are suggested. Refreshments will be served. Call 203-263-2855 for more information or visit


Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

Tours of the gardens designed by America’s first female landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand and the history of the Harkness Estate, EOLIA, will be presented free of charge from 12pm to 4pm by Park Staff and Friends of Harkness volunteers at Harkness Memorial State Park, on Great Neck Road, in Waterford. Also, tours of the Harkness mansion will be available from 10am until 2pm for a suggested donation. After your garden and mansion tours, visit the Gift Shop at the Carriage House open from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Bring a picnic and after your tours enjoy the spectacular views of Long Island Sound from the Great Lawn.


Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford

  • Tours of the Stowe House, a National Historic Landmark. The 1871 home, and the tour experience have been transformed. Expect an interactive tour where you participate in a newly renovated space. An 18-month interior preservation has just been completed.
  • See beautifully preserved interiors – Learn what compelled Stowe to write the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Connect the past to the present as you discuss 19th century social issues that resonate today — leave feeling inspired that you can create positive change. Tour admission fees apply.
  • Riverwood Poets Social Justice Reading with Best Reyna and Carolina Guiral (don’t have exact time, but will be in the afternoon.) Free.
  • Plein air painting. Free.


Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington

Join us in the Sunken Garden for tours of the garden with a focus on pollinator-friendly plants in the garden. Guided tours will begin on the hour, beginning at noon. Enjoy music and plein air artists in the garden; create a special art project to take home with you.

Tour the museum at your own pace from 1 to 4pm. Admission applies, but free with membership.


Osborne Homestead Museum, Derby

Visitors can enjoy tours of the lovely Colonial Revival gardens and learn about the medicinal uses of the flowering plants. After strolling through the gardens, guests can visit the historic house museum where they will learn about Frances Osborne Kellogg’s passion for flowers and land conservation.  At the museum, a decoupage workshop will be offered to honor Frances’ love of flowers and handicrafts. Visitors can make decoupage art from pictures of the Kellogg Estate’s gorgeous flowers.  All materials will be supplied, and there will be no fee. Complimentary museum and garden tours will be offered every half hour beginning at noon.


Promisek at Three Rivers Farm, Bridgewater

Promisek gardeners will be on hand from noon to 4pm to answer questions about the Beatrix Farrand-designed garden and the history of the land. We encourage those who wish to sketch, draw or paint to bring their materials!


Roseland Cottage, Woodstock

Enjoy a guided tour of the formal boxwood parterre garden at Roseland Cottage. Learn the history, significance, and theory behind the garden layout and design.

Visitors are also invited to test their skill at croquet. Representatives of the US Croquet Association will be on hand to assist with the traditional game played by the Bowen family during their summer sojourns in Woodstock. Enjoy the gardens and play the game that nearly brought down the presidency of Roseland guest Rutherford B. Hayes! Free guided garden tours on the hour. Free house tours to those dressed in white.


Stanley-Whitman House, Farmington

Stanley-Whitman House costumed interpreters will be dying cloth and fiber in the 18th-century Dooryard Gardens from 12-4 pm on Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, Sunday, June 25. Admission is free.

The first occupant of the ca. 1720 National Historic Landmark dwelling house was weaver Thomas Smith, who built a weaving studio on the second floor of the building. That studio has been reconstructed in the historic building so visitors and students can gain an intimate understanding of the life and work of an early 18th-century tradesman and weaver. Smith’s work included dying fiber and cloth for his business, and the dye plants in the historic gardens duplicate the plants research has shown that Smith used for his work: among them Dyer’s Chamomile, False Indigo, Mallow, Pot Marigold, Tansy, Woad, Yarrow, and Madder.

Visitors will watch and interact with interpreters as they process a selection of these plants and dye fibers on Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day. Dooryard gardens were areas of active seasonal work, such as laundry, soap- and candle-making, butchering, and dying. Far from formal beautiful spaces, these garden areas served functions that were messy, smelly and often crowded with people, animals and equipment. What visitors experience at Stanley-Whitman House on June 25 will provide an interesting juxtaposition to historic gardens of later periods, which were primarily places of beauty and contemplation.


Thankful Arnold House Museum, Haddam Historical Society, Haddam

Free admission, light refreshments and crafts 12 to 4 pm.

Visitors will learn how herbs, vegetables and plants were used by the Widow Thankful Arnold in the early 19th century.  The Wilhelmina Ann Arnold Barnhart Memorial Garden features over 50 varieties of herbs including those used in cooking, dyeing, fragrance and medicine.

This year’s acitivity for both adults and children will be making a small hedgehog or mouse from teasel plants grown in the garden. Light refreshments will also be served including our famous rhubarb tea and shrub. For further information visit or call 860-345-2400.


Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Wethersfield

Webb Deane Stevens museum will celebrate the day with special programs on our colonial revival garden designed in 1921 by landscape gardener Amy Cogswell. Admission to the garden is free and tours of the museum houses will be available for a fee.

Join us for discussion of the history of Colonial Revival era gardens with displays of the original garden plans before going outside for a guided tour of our garden. We will also have a brief slide show of the garden throughout the year and serve refreshments!

Guests will be able to enter a free raffle for a lovely framed poster featuring a print of a painting done by a Connecticut artist for the 2017 Connecticut Historic Gardens Day.

The garden will be open for this special event from 12 PM until 4 PM. We hope to see you in our garden.


Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton

Weir Farm NHS will have staff and Garden Gang volunteers posted in the two historic gardens to interpret cultural landscape history and to answer any gardening questions.