Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day 2019

Sunday, June 23, 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 1915-1918 by Eliza Mitchell Ferriday. Grounds admission is free; regular admission applies for historic house tour. Garden Tours at 1 & 3 pm.

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. 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, Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art, will be of particular interest to garden and nature lovers!

Sara Jascot, Certified Yoga Instructor, will be on the grounds from 11 am to 12:30 pm for “Yoga at the ‘Om’ of American Impressionism.” The session is designed for all levels of yoga and will focus on celebrating and exploring art and beauty of mind-body connection. Free to attend. Please bring mat, towel, water and any yoga equipment you use (block, blanket, strap).

Glebe House Museum and The Gertrude Jekyll Garden, Woodbury

Assorted plants from the Jekyll Gardens will be available at our Plant Sale. Garden Committee volunteers will be available to give garden tours and information about the Jekyll Plan and restoration efforts. Enjoy light refreshments and free admission to the first floor of the historic Glebe House.

Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

Enjoy tours of the Gardens designed by America’s first female landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand, and the History of the Harkness estate. Tours of the Harkness Mansion will also be available for a suggested donation. After your garden and mansion tours, please visit our Gift Shop. Bring a picnic and enjoy the spectacular views of Long Island Sound from the Great Lawn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford

Enjoy a self-guided tour of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center historic gardens featuring shade-loving perennials, colorful annuals, shrubs, meadow flowers, exotic elephant ears, castor bean plants, and stately roses.

The gardens include Connecticut’s largest Merrill Magnolia; grafts from The Stowe Dogwood, a pink variety believed to be from Stowe’s time; a National Champion Tree, the Common Paw Paw; and The Garden Club of America award-winning heritage roses.

On Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, try your hand at painting en plein air.

With ticketed admission, visitors can tour Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1871 home, a National Historic Landmark. On the interactive, conversational tour, visitors will learn about the life and impact of the author of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, connect the past to the present, and see the beautifully preserved Victorian Gothic Cottage where Stowe lived for 23 years. Stowe’s life and work show how one person can make a difference. Visitors will leave feeling inspired that they too can create positive change.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington

Enjoy Hill-Stead’s famous Sunken Garden designed by the country’s first woman landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand, whose creative vision comes to life in the Pope family’s estate. Nestled in a natural depression in the landscape, and surrounded by an octagonal hedge of yew, the garden occupies nearly an acre of perennials, annuals and shrubs. Roses, peonies, iris and lavender scent the air in June. Also visit the Pollinator Garden, the newest garden treasure on the grounds, tucked away in the stone foundation of a former greenhouse overlooking the Sunken Garden. And join us for a special painting demonstration by the 2019 Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day poster artist, Catherine M. Elliott.

  • Enjoy informal garden tours of the Sunken Garden and the Pollinator Garden from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Tours begin in the Sunken Garden.
  • Learn about pollinator-friendly native plants of the Sunken Garden and the Pollinator Garden from 12:00 – 4:00 pm.
  • Watch artist Catherine Elliott demonstrate en plein air painting techniques in the Sunken Garden at 12:30 and 3:00 pm. Also, see Catherine’s work in the Museum Shop Orientation Gallery at a special “pop-up shop” with original art and prints for sale.
  • Learn about honey bees from bee keeper Ted Jones at 1:00 pm outside the Museum Shop.
  • Enjoy refreshments in the Sunken Garden on a Sunday afternoon.,

Visitors are welcome to stroll the grounds, or perhaps take a slightly longer walk to see the flock of sheep at Hill-Stead’s barns. Free trail maps are available at the Museum Shop.

The museum is open for tours from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Free with Museum membership or admission.

Osborne Homestead Museum, Derby

The Osborne Homestead Museum will provide guided tours of the museum and its Colonial Revival gardens. Learn about Frances Osborne Kellogg’s love of flowers and her role in land conservation. Get creative and make your own scented sachets in the museum’s solarium. All materials will be provided, and there will be no fee. Complimentary museum and garden tours will be offered every half hour beginning at noon. You can stroll the gardens on your own, but museum tours will be led by docents on order of arrival. At 1 pm, learn simple garden tricks and tips during a special presentation on Outdoor Gardening at the Kellogg Environmental Center located behind the museum.

The Kellogg Environmental Center, located behind the Osborne Homestead Museum, will be open 12 – 4 pm on Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day.

Phelps-Hatheway House, Suffield

Please join us in celebrating Phelps-Hatheway’s inclusion in this esteemed group of historic gardens! Speak with members of the Suffield Garden Club, who have lovingly maintained the grounds since 1964. Enjoy refreshments in the garden, activities for children and tours of the house throughout the afternoon.

Admission to the grounds is free; regular admission applies for historic house tours.

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. Musicians from the Hartt School of Music will play on the terrace, and fresh lemonade will be available to visitors. 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 U.S. 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 President Rutherford B. Hayes!

Free guided tours on the hour. Free house tours to those dressed all in white.

Stanley-Whitman House, Farmington

Stanley-Whitman House costumed interpreters will give informal tours of the 18th-century Dooryard Garden from 12-4 pm.

Dooryard gardens were areas of active seasonal work, such as laundry, soap- and candle-making, butchering, and dyeing. 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 23 will provide an interesting juxaposition to historic gardens of later periods, which were primarily places of beauty and contemplation.

Farmington’s earliest settlers cultivated seeds and roots originally brought from England, including plants used for dyes; hops used for making beer; and herbs used medicinally and for culinary purposes.

We’re pleased to have the Farmington Farm Truck selling local produce and other locally made goods, so please look for the Vintage green farm truck! There will be light refreshments in the Tavern and please enjoy 10% off all things garden-related in the museum shop.

Thankful Arnold House Museum, Haddam Historical Society, Haddam

Enjoy free admission, light refreshments and crafts all afternoon.

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. The museum’s newly interpreted outhouse will also be on the tour.

This year’s activity for both adults and children will be making a small hedgehog or mouse from teasel plants grown in the garden, or making a lavender sachet. Light refreshments will also be served, including our famous rhubarb tea.

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 about our colonial revival garden, which was 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 in the Webb-Deane-Stevens barn for a 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!

We hope to see you in our garden.

Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton

Celebrate Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day at Weir Farm National Historic Site, the only national park dedicated to American painting, where gardens and art go hand-in-hand!  The new Art of Gardening Tour will be offered at 12:00 and 2:00, and Garden Gang volunteers will offer short informal talks in the Sunken Garden and Secret Garden about each garden’s history, flowers, restoration, and ongoing preservation, from 12:00 to 4:00. In addition to the tours and talks, visitors can spend an afternoon painting en plein air in a landscape that has inspired artists for over 135 years using the Park’s free-to-use watercolor supplies! Informal instruction with Park Art Instructor Bobbi Eike Mullen will be offered from 1:00  to 4:00. There is no registration for this event – just stop by and smell the flowers!