Secret Gardens

Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets annual two-day philanthropic garden event in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut is May 14-15th, 2016. A Mecca for plant lovers and those who covet garden-themed antiques featuring over five dozen specialty nurseries and best-known antiques dealers from the Northeast. Garden enthusiasts travel from across the country for this legendary rite of Spring event. Martha Stewart has it on her calendar, do you?

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The beautiful 600-acre Lion Rock Farm in Sharon Connecticut with its manicured gardens and panoramic views, is the site of the first day’s spectacular Rare Plant & Garden Antiques Sale. The event has haute/humble roots. It began 15 years ago at world-renowned interior designer, author and garden expert Bunny Williams’ home in Falls Village Connecticut, and has evolved into the signature fundraiser for Women’s Support Services of the Northwest Corner of Connecticut, nearby Massachusetts and New York.

On Sunday, May 15th you can enjoy an opportunity to take four self-guided inspiring and Extraordinary Garden Tours in the area: the rarely visited home garden of eclectic landscape|interior designer & antiques dealer Michael Trapp; and take in tastemaker designer Carolyne Roehm’s outrageously elegant 59-acre retreat in Sharon called “Weatherstone” with its extensive plantings; the landscape architecture farmland and barns at Old Farm Nursery -with a kitchen garden, formal garden, secret garden and lush perennial borders; and renowned designer Bunny Williams’ & husband John Rosselli’s exquisite Falls Village property, with its Adirondack pool pavilion, orchard, parterre, and cutting gardens.

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Bunny Williamss Estate in Falls Village Connecticut has become a New England icon thanks to her beautiful best-selling books “An Affair With a House” & “On Garden Style,” and by graciously opening her home to garden tours over the years.

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Bunny’s Gardens are laid out in the same manner as her impeccable interiors, with scale, balance, and a sense of intimacy. For the garden just beyond the main house, it meant leaning into classical symmetry -matching boxwood terraces and towering hedges, pairs of ornamental sculptures, to create the feeling of an enveloping outdoor room.

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A garden should look like it has developed over time. At Old Farm Nursery in Lakeville Connecticut, husband and wife team Judy & Patrick Murphy certainly get lush nostalgic landscaping with an inventive hand, right, with inviting antique barn entryway with stacked rock bed, black metal flowerbed, border clematis climbers and lattice side fence. The flowers look like they have been there for years, waiting to greet you.

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Designer Carolyne Roehm’s ultimate canvas is her beloved retreat called “Weatherstone” tucked in a pastoral corner of Connecticut. Rebuilt after 1999, the house took all its architectural guidance from the original 1765 Georgian house. There she’s created a beacon of neoclassical architectural true to the era that inspired it. It’s surrounded with 59 acres of provincial land and ponds, wrapped with parterre gardens -those geometric gardens you might have seen in Versailles.

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From Roehm’s third book which she has devoted to her passionate partnership with nature, “At Home In The Garden” she equates gardening with love. “As with amour, a garden is a place you venture into with hope, energy, excitement, enchantment, and the greatest of expectations. Both require a leap of faith, a desire to switch off the rational mind and let fantasy take over, a willingness to be flexible, and a knack for improvisation.” But there’s also the other side, she adds, “as many desolating moments as exultant ones, as much mixed communication as connection. Love and the garden require sacrifice, patience, perseverance, ruthlessness, and not a little cunning.”

At the Saturday event, Trade Secrets is hosting a book signing to celebrate six new garden books. These include “Outstanding American Gardens; A Celebration -25 Years of the Garden Conservancy” by Page Dickey & Marion Brenner; “At Home in the Garden” by Carolyne Roehm; “The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques” from Chanticleer; “The Rooftop Growing Guide” by Annie Novak; “The Plant Lover’s Guide to Magnolias” by Andrew Bunting; and “Garden Revolution” by Thomas Christopher.

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Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration by Paige Dickey & Marion Brenner, Hardcover, 272 pgs, 2015.

The Garden Conservancy celebrated its 25th anniversary with this beautifully illustrated book that documents a selection of the outstanding public and private gardens it has worked with since its founding in 1989. The book showcases eight gardens the conservancy has helped preserve and 43 of the more than 3,000 private gardens across the country that have been opened to the public through its Open Days Program. The private gardens cover a wide variety of regions, habitats, designs, and plants, from early Spring through Autumn. Featured private gardens include Panayoti Kelaidis’s rock garden in Denver, Colorado; Deborah Whigham and Gary Ratway’s collection of native and Mediterranean plants and earth walls in Albion, California; and James David’s imaginative mix of heat-tolerant plants, rills, and pools in Austin, Texas, and designer Andrea Filippone‘s stunning rustic chic garden in Pottersville, New Jersey.