by Beth Burgess
The Stowe Center’s grounds in Hartford, Connecticut provide an oasis of beauty in a busy urban neighborhood, attracting tourists, students, and scholars from around the world to walk in the footsteps of the woman whose words changed the world. Every spring our gardens surprise and delight all of our neighbors and visitors with an array of seemingly ever-blooming beds on our grounds. The singular beauty of the heritage roses is a shining example of how heritage – and history – enrich contemporary life.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a passionate gardener, and she loved roses. “A garden is a place of healing to the soul,” she wrote. She purchased her Hartford house (now a National Historic Landmark) after writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) and lived there from 1873 until her death in 1896. Stowe’s Forest Street home became a museum nearly 70 years later, during which time most of her original plantings were lost. Through years of research and maintenance the interpretive historic landscape including Victorian gardens with heritage roses has emerged. There are ten gardens, including the Antique Rose garden, with Harison Yellow roses (1840s), Cammileux roses, large Tuscany superb roses (1848) of crimson, medium pink Paul Neyron roses (1869), pink climbing roses, moss roses, and rosa rugosa roses. All are in bloom from late May through the first two weeks of June. In 2010, the Center was awarded the Garden Club of America’s Jane Righter Rose Medal for “outstanding cultivation and display of heritage roses.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s words on equality and justice changed the world. She championed these causes from her inspiring home and beloved gardens. Both are open to the public year round. Make time to visit the Stowe Center this summer and be inspired by the beauty around you! On Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, Sunday, June 23, free self-guided garden tours will be available. See www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org for more information.
by Beth Burgess