Hollister House Garden Rare Plant Sale Sept. 6-7

The Garden Conservancy and Hollister House Garden located in the Litchfield Hills has announced the fourth biennial Hollister House Garden Study Weekend, to be held the weekend of September 6 – 7.


On Saturday, September 6, New Plants/New Gardens, a symposium at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury, CT, will provide an opportunity to hear some of the most interesting voices in landscape architecture, ecological design, and horticulture at work today. The symposium will be moderated by garden writer Stephen Orr, and will begin with breakfast on Saturday at the Heritage Hotel. Speakers include: Dan Hinkley, plant explorer, founder of Heronswood Nursery, and winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Veitch’s Medal, presenting “Shade, Shadows, Sun: Life and Living in Two Gardens” Margie Ruddick, Cooper-Hewitt National Design award-winning landscape architect, sharing her pioneering approach to landscape design in a talk entitled “Wild by Design” Darrel Morrison, native plant expert and landscape architect, whose work includes Storm King Art Center, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the Native Flora Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, exploring the idea of landscape design as ecological art Ed Bowen, proprietor of Opus Nursery and working gardener, introducing new plants that will serve as the garden archetypes of the 21st century

The day will continue with a Plant Show-and-Tell with noted plant connoisseur Marco Polo Stufano, garden writer Page Dickey, and nurseryman Adam Wheeler showing favorite plants and discussing the special merits of each. Hickory Stick Bookshop will be at the Saturday symposium selling garden-related gifts and books. After the symposium, participants are invited to a cocktail reception at Hollister House Garden in Washington, CT, with early access to the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale that will be open to the public the following morning. A silent auction of a few choice plants will also take place that evening.


Admission to the reception and early buying is included in admission to the symposium. Admission to just the cocktail party and plant sale preview is also available to those not participating in the symposium. Registrations for Saturday– for the symposium and cocktail party, including early buying at the sale of Rare and Unusual Plants, is $175 per person for registrations purchased by August 1 and for members of Hollister House Garden and the Garden Conservancy. After August 1, registrations for non-members are $190 apiece. A special rate at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury is available for symposium participants by contacting the hotel directly at 800.932.3466 and mentioning “Garden Study Weekend.” Tickets for cocktails and early buying for Rare and Unusual Plant Sale (held at Hollister House Garden, Washington, CT) are $40 for Hollister House Garden members, $45 for all others. For more information about the Hollister House Garden www.hollisterhousegarden.org.


On Sunday, September 7, the Litchfield County Open Day Sale of Rare and Unusual Plants brings on the public portion of the plant sale at Hollister House Garden and the opening of five exceptional gardens (Hollister House Garden, Greyledge Farm, Maywood, Lagniappe Garden, and the Pearsall garden) in Washington, Bridgewater, and Roxbury as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. For more information on the Litchfield County Open Day, including hours, maps, and descriptions of each garden, visit the Open Days schedule on www.gardenconservancy.org No pre-registration is necessary for Sunday programs. Open Days admission is $5 per person, per garden. Children 12 and under free.

Spring Programs for Gardeners at Greenwich Garden Education Center

The Garden Education Center of Greenwich located on 130 Bible Street in Cos Cob is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting horticulture, conservation and the arts through educational programs, outreach activities and special events. In March and April, the Center is offering a series of programs perfect for the home gardener.


On March 27, for example, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. the Center and the Greenwich Land Trust have partnered to bring Charles Day, a former commercial fruit-grower to explain this ancient craft and demonstrate the techniques involved. In this 3-hour session he will teach participants about the collection and storage of scion wood, rootstocks and their function, different types of grafts and the reasons for using them and the art of tying and waxing. Participants will have the opportunity to hone their grafting skills on real trees in one of the Greenwich Land Trust’s beautiful orchard preserves. Registration is required and the material fee is $5; registration for members is $35 and $45 for non-members. It is suggested that you dress for the outdoors and bring your lunch; the Center will provide drinks and dessert.

On April 2, from 10 a.m. – noon, there will be another grafting class this time on tomatoes with local horticulturist Alan Gorkin. Grafting plants is another form of propagating herbaceous, fast growing plants such as annual vegetables. Gorkin will discuss the relatively “new “ process of grafting tomatoes, and why we do it and participants will practice the technique in class and take materials home to grow in their own garden. The materials fee for this class is $7.50 and registration for members is $25 and $35 for non-members.


If you want to learn how to simplify gardening to fit your lifestyle, don’t miss the program by Kerry Mendez on April 24 at 10 a.m. This inspiring lecture provides easy-to-follow downsizing strategies, recommended no-fuss plant material, and design tips for stunning year-round gardens that will be as close to autopilot as you can get. Registration for this lecture is required and registration for members is $35 and $45 for non-members.
Also on April 24 is a “Girls Night Out” with cash and carry flowers from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. This informative workshop has many tips on how to choose and arrange store-bought flowers with expert floral designer, Miriam Landsman. Reservations for this evening are required and the cost is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. A light dinner and dessert will be provided, bring your own beverage.

To register for these programs visit www.gecgreenwich.org. For information on Fairfield County visit www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Frolic at French Farm in Greenwich

French Farm courtesy Greenwich Historical Society
French Farm courtesy Greenwich Historical Society

French Farm on 516 Lake Ave. in Greenwich was the first property in the town to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975; and just recently it was designated as a Local Historic Property that will preserve it for future generations.

Originally, the house was designed by H. VanBuren Magonigle and was built in 1911-1915 for Mary Billings French. Today, this four-acre, 100 year old property has beautifully restored farm buildings and a rare plant collection that creates a series of distinctive gardens designed by late owner, David Wierdsma making this landscape a living work of art. Wierdsma inherited the property in 1972 and endeavored to preserve the original structures on the property and to create beautiful and whimsical gardens.


The farm is not always open to the public, however on Sunday, September 15, on behalf of the Greenwich Historical Society, the entire family is invited to visit French Farm for an afternoon of art and nature from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., rain or shine.

This is the perfect place to celebrate the final days of summer and explore this unique private landscape that is part gentleman’s farm and part living work of art. Kids will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the farm’s animal occupants, enjoy a scavenger hunt, press cider, climb the “pterodactyl nest” tower, explore the fossil garden and enjoy nature crafts and activities on the lawn.

Adults have the option of two tours–one led by Florence Boogaerts, focusing on the horticultural aspects of the property; the other by farm manager Jacek Nidzgorski who will talk about the property’s cultural landscape, its collections and its origins and development. Artists are invited to set up their easels during the event, and photographers will be free to snap.

Buffet refreshments, served on the main lawn, will include an artisanal cheese board, seasonal bites and sweet and savory pastries, all created by celebrity chef John Barricelli of Sono Baking Company and Martha Stewart Everyday Cooking fame. Advanced reservations are required no later than September 11 and made be made online at http://www.hstg.org/adult.php#frenchfarm or calling 203-869-6899 for additional information.

Admission to this event is $35 for adults, Children 4 to 12: $10. No charge for children 3 and under.

For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Creating Habitat Oases for Migrating Songbirds

Join Audubon’s Patrick Comins and Michelle Frankelon April 28 at the Garden Education Center of Greenwich on 1 Bible Street in Cos Cob for a special presentation and walk through Greenwich’s Montgomery Pinetum to learn about simple ways to enhance backyards, school grounds and public parks to provide quality habitat for migrating songbirds. This event is co-sponsored by Audubon Connecticut, Greenwich Tree Conservancy, Bruce Museum and Garden Education Center. An RSVP is suggested to the Greenwich Tree Conservancy at 203- 869-1464. The program takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Garden Education Center of Greenwich
Garden Education Center of Greenwich

The Audubon’s Habitat Oases program identifies, improves and conserves important stop-over habitat for migrating songbirds all along the Atlantic migratory flyway, focusing on urban and suburban areas and other landscapes where there is limited quality habitat. The program, performed in collaboration with Audubon chapters, state and municipal parks departments, and other groups, engages volunteer birdwatchers – citizen scientists – in migratory songbird surveys of urban/suburban green spaces. The surveys help to determine the characteristics of high quality stop-over habitat and which species of plants are most beneficial as food sources for migrating songbirds.

Audubon and its partners are using the results of this study to promote the protection of critical stop-over habitats by helping government agencies, corporations, land trusts, and other landowners make informed land use and land protection decisions
They also work to improve the quality of public and private lands as stop-over habitat for migrating birds by guiding the management and landscaping practices of natural resource managers, private landowners and professional landscapers
and strive to develop regionally-specific lists of “bird-friendly” native plants that may be used to guide landscaping practices in parks, gardens and backyards.

Patrick Comins is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, and has worked in the bird conservation arena for the last 15 years. Patrick began his career with the Connecticut Audubon Society, doing bird surveys on the coast at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and then worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a biological technician at the refuge. He has been with Audubon Connecticut as the Director of Bird Conservation for Connecticut since 2000, overseeing Connecticut’s Important Bird Areas and other conservation programs. He is the principal author of Protecting Connecticut’s Grassland Heritage. Patrick is a past resident of the Connecticut Ornithological Association and was the 2007 recipient of their Mabel Osgood Wright Award. He has written several articles on bird conservation and identification for the Connecticut Warbler and is currently chairman and vice president of the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Michelle Frankel, Ph.D., is a Conservation Biologist with Audubon Connecticut and is coordinating the Habitat Oases program in CT, and facilitating the implementation of the program in a number of other states along the Atlantic migratory flyway. Michelle previously worked with Audubon of Florida, where she originally piloted the Habitat Oases program. Prior to her work with Audubon, she was Education Director for Earthspan, a nonprofit that develops and applies advanced technologies for wildlife conservation. Michelle received her Ph.D. in behavioral ecology from Boston University, focusing on forest fragmentation effects on migratory songbirds. She subsequently pursued a post-doctoral fellowship with Tel Aviv University and the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in Israel, where she studied the impacts of urbanization on the globally-threatened Lesser Kestrel.

Stamford’s Bartlett Arboretum Presents “Garden Rooms by Design

The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens of Stamford has announced its “Garden Rooms by Design” showcase now open June 8th – 15th. The week long event welcomes visitors to experience the top to bottom transformation of the Bartlett’s historical homestead, once the home of the famed Dr. Francis A. Bartlett at 151 Brookdale Road, Stamford. Tickets to see the “Garden Rooms by Design” showcase are $20/person. Showcase hours are 10-4 daily and tickets can be purchased at the door. For more information and a sneak preview of each designer’s ideas, visit www.bartlettarboretum.org events.

Top local designers and artisans have been given the challenge of bringing the outdoors inside to create the unparalleled “Garden Rooms by Design”. This theme proves to be a fresh take on the Bartlett Arboretum’s purpose: to inspire the community to explore, examine, understand and appreciate the natural history of the botanical world and its place in our lives. This inimitable design challenge has requested some of the area’s top interior and landscape designers, artists and artisans to “think-out-of-the-box” and consider “green” elements in a not-so-usual sense. This renovation of the Bartlett homestead will include rooms, staircases, landings and gardens. The Designer Showcase is a new element added to the Bartlett’s ever-popular Spring Garden Tour Event going on concurrently.

An added feature to the Designer Showcase is an informative lecture series featuring experts in hydrangeas, landscape design, design inspirations, photography, and creative design solutions.

All lectures are free of charge with admission to the Showcase with the exception of the featured presentation, “Success with Hydrangeas” by Famed Nantucketer Mal Condon which is $25 per person. The Series kicks off from 10 a.m. to noon with Mal Condon’s presentation on “Success with Hydrangeas” that will be held in the lecture room of the new Silver Educational Center on the arboretum’s property.

Hydrangeas continue to be a very popular woody ornamental genus. Widely grown along our New England coastline, they create something special in so many gardens. This discussion will include the following topics; climate and plant siting, a major species review, cultural issues including fertilizing and bloom color control, best pruning practices, new varieties of merit, and propagation/making more plants. A lifelong gardener, Mal has always loved the genus hydrangea and began collecting plants from his extensive travels during his engineering career. His retirement in 1999 allowed him to pursue hydrangea nurturing with total commitment. Ever the engineer, he brings a strong technical and investigative nature to the continuing development of the genus – searching for new and better plants, evaluating their landscape performance, and finding superior ways to produce them. Hydrangea Farm on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts has become a much visited location for serious hydrangeaphiles. This lecture is being partially underwritten by gifts made in memory of Barbara Saverine, lover of hydrangeas and wife of the Bartlett’s executive director. This will be a digital presentation featuring detailed graphics relevant to all topics. A Q&A session will follow the lecture. Class Fee $25. Call 203.322.6971 for more information or to reserve your spot.

Following Mal’s presentation on Wednesday will be free lectures by Jan Johnson on Landscape Design at 1 p.m. and Victoria Lyon at 3 p.m. The Art of Design in Bringing the Outside In. On Thursday, June 14th the series will feature at 11 a.m. Jamie Gotto of Bungalow 5 and Napa Home and Garden followed by Michael Yedowitz from Wainscot Solutions and concluding with Jeremy Keets Saladyga Photography. All free lectures will be held in the Showcase house.

Finally, the event will conclude on Friday, June 15th with a Designer Sample Sale of materials and props used in the showcase, including a variety of lovely potted plants and extra samples that the designers will bring in just for the sale. Designers will be donating 20% of their sales to benefit the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens. The showcase admission ticket must be purchased to enter the designer sample sale.

About the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens

The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is a non profit 501 (c) (3) organization that inspires the surrounding community to explore, examine, understand and appreciate the natural history of the botanical world through its research, living plant collections, education and arts and cultural programs. The 91-acre property located at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford is a living museum of champion majestic trees, rare plant collections, themed gardens, and natural landscapes traversed by hiking and walking trails. The historic site is the former residence, training school, and botanical research grounds of the renowned arborist, Dr. Francis Bartlett, dating back to 1913. With a summer concert series featuring both classical and contemporary selections, and a regular schedule of exhibits by local artists and photographers, the Bartlett Arboretum plays an ever expanding role in the regional cultural community. For more information about the Bartlett Arboretum and the events at the new Silver Educational Center including children’s and adults’ nature programs please visit the website www.bartlettarboretum.org or call 203-322-6971.

New Canaan Nature Center Announces Annual Secret Gardens Tour

The Annual Secret Gardens Tour benefiting the New Canaan Nature Center will take place on Friday, June 8. The popular tour is a fund-raiser for the New Canaan Nature Center and an opportunity for homeowners, gardeners and anyone who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors to be inspired by several outstanding garden settings. The self-guided tour takes place between 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m., allowing attendees to visit the gardens at their own pace and on their own schedule.
New Cannan Garden Tour

This year’s tour will feature a variety of spectacular New Canaan gardens representing the past, present and future of landscape design. Gardens will include historic estates with meandering garden “rooms,” newly-designed and transformed landscapes and grounds incorporating the latest sustainable practices and plantings. In addition to hundreds of varieties of annuals and perennials, attendees will see a wide variety of majestic specimen trees, unique water features, and delightful woodland gardens.

New Canaan Nature Center is pleased to welcome Elise Landscapes & Nursery and the Bank of New Canaan as the lead sponsors of the tour. Mark Hicks of Elise says “The Secret Gardens Tour is a New Canaan tradition that we are thrilled to support, and we see this as a terrific opportunity to reach out to those who are passionate about garden design and appreciate spectacular landscaping.”

Tour tickets are $75 including lunch or $50 for the tour only. The tour lunch will be available at the New Canaan Nature Center or to take and enjoy while touring the gardens. The lunch is sponsored by Hobbs, Inc., Austin, Patterson, Disston and Devore Associates. Tour tickets will be $60 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at the New Canaan Nature Center, by calling (203) 966-9577 x50, or online at www.NewCanaanNature.org starting May 1.