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nj garden bus trip to litchfield county friends of frelinghuysen arboretum and dig it magazine

Litchfield Lark Afterword

by DIG-IT

Fifty-five garden lovers took the garden tour bus for an overnight adventure with The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum and DIG IT! Magazine on a Litchfield (Connecticut) Lark on June 18 & 19. Four stellar private gardens, two scrumptious lunches, a wine tasting, shopping at White Flower Farm and guided tours everywhere filled the days. The hilly terrain was to be reckoned with and provided an easy path into restful sleep at Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington.

Despite thunder and lightning and hail the size of walnuts, the trip was a total success. One enterprising woman brought along a roll of large, clear garbage bags, donned thankfully by those without rain gear.

Day 1
Stop 1: Maywood Gardens, a 1,000+-acre hilltop estate
We rode in golf carts to the house on the hilltop where we split into two groups, each led by a garden designer, to walk through the gardens surrounding the house, pool, loggia and sunken gardens, past cutting gardens, blueberry patch, orchid house, wetland garden, patches of gardens everywhere, through a fascinating woodland garden where spirea bloomed as delicately as any woodland plant, across a wisteria-covered bridge, then on to the conservatory and its gardens where all enjoyed a wine-tasting from home-grown grapes and an excellent catered lunch from The Bridgewater Store.

After lunch, we inspected the rose garden, herb garden and more, more more gardens.

Stop 2: Hollister House Garden, a wild-yet-tame garden in the classical English style
Most of the thunder, lightning and walnut-size hail had subsided just as we arrived at Hollister House. The owner and garden designer, George Schoellkopf, boarded the bus to greet us and tell how the garden came to be. As he finished, so did the rain and we all set off with Mr. Schoellkopf in a light sprinkle to enjoy this magnificent garden. Words come hard to describe the glory that is Hollister House Garden. Each area is inhabited by unusual and rare plants of distinction that grow with almost-wild abandon – a plant lover’s garden for sure.

Stop 3: Highmeadows, a hilltop garden overlooking the Litchfield Hills
Our pack of 55 excited visitors sauntered down a long lane leading to the Italianate-inspired garden of Linda Allard, retired Ellen Tracy chief fashion designer. With Ms. Allard, we visited a picture-perfect green and white formal garden, a promenade of arbors covered in roses and clematis, a potager with vegetables, flowers, herbs, roses and a grand gate leading to a spectacular view across the Litchfield countryside and Ms. Allard’s apple orchard. A movie-set pool and garden lead to her studio and, finally, a walk in a woodland garden with lots of favorite plants such as epimedium, hosta and ferns.

Stop 4: On to the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn where our stalwart garden lovers relaxed a bit, then went their separate ways to dinner on the town.


Day 2
After a relaxing buffet breakfast at the Yankee Pedlar, we boarded the garden bus for another exciting day.

Stop 1: The garden of Bunny Williams, interior designer/ garden boutique owner
Head gardener Eric met the group at the gate, then led us first to the potager where decorative compost piles in iron bins have their place among the edibles. A visit to the chickens is always fun, then the curious – and refreshed – group practically skipped uphill through meadow to the pool and pool house. The rectangular pool is bordered by rock slabs from France and the pool house is made of timbers from the property. then back down to the guest house inside and out, and surrounding gardens with pergola covered with three William Baffin roses. Several garden “rooms” including perennial borders surround the main house.

Stop 2: White Flower Farm display gardens and lots of shopping
Staff led two groups through the display/trial gardens then went shopping galore, filling the belly of the bus with goodies. One happy woman won a raffle for $25 off mail order.

Stop 3: John’s Café, a Zagat-rated café worth the trip with excellent service and food
A body and soul-satisfying café for all, plus a nursery next door where more purchases were made.

Home: Arrived at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum a little after 6pm.

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published July 07, 2013

Photos to enlarge


The pool and pool house gardens at Maywood Gardens


Sunken Garden and loggia at Maywood Gardens


Entering the Sunken Garden and boxwood Parterre planted with salvia and Powis Castle artemesia at Maywood Gardens


A very pretty woodland garden at Maywood


Green, green living bridge at Maywood Gardens


Hollister House Garden owner/designer George Schoellkopf talks with visitors in the vegetable/kitchen garden.


A waiting bench at Hollister House Garden


A wonderfully pruned fruit tree at Hollister House Gardens that creates layers of views - the secret ingredient to a magnificent garden.


Enjoying the Grey Garden at Hollister House


This tree demands inspection.


Rose arbor promenade at Highmeadows


Indoors and out of Bunny Williams' guest house


William Baffin roses color up the boxwood parterre in Bunny Williams' garden.


Bunny Williams' pool house made of white oak from onsite woodland.


A great garden of hosta at Bunny Williams' house


Great room in the gust house at Bunny Williams' home


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