Hidden Garden Tour 2003

June 8th, 2003

10:00 am - 5:00 pm

“A Gardener’s Garden”

Sunday, June 8
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Six private gardens in the Westport area


PEOPLE’S BANK – Corporate Partner
GREEN CROSS  – Elite Sponsor
EILEEN FISHER – Contributing Sponsor

Ticket Information

$20 WHS members, $28 Non-WHS members
Tickets will be $35 the day of the tour

$50 Tickets for Jitney Bus Tour
Jitney departs WHS at 1 PM

Tickets with a map and directions to the gardens
must be picked up on the day of the tour
at Wheeler House, 25 Avery Place, Westport, Connecticut

All tickets are non-refundable
Information/Reservation Line 203-226-6338

The Garden Café
On the grounds of the  Westport Historical Society

Turkey, Tuna or Veggie Wrap, Fruit, Dessert, Beverage

The Garden Market

Browse through an exciting array of fanciful and practical garden related items on the grounds of the Westport Historical Society and the Town Green.  Shop for iron urns, copper lawn sculpture, decorative painting, garden gloves, jewelry, orchids, arbors, gates, garden ornaments, outdoor furniture, topiaries, bows and bags, lavender filled pillows, accessories, and everything floral for home and friends!

The Garden Raffle

Weathered Katahdin Adirondack Chair and Cabot Side Table – Walpole Woodworkers
Ceramic Garden Birdbath – Izzo and Son Country Gardens
Two All-Weather Fiberglass Garden Urns – Geiger’s Garden Center
Garden Statuary – Fishe Brothers
Hypertuffa Trough Planted with Alpines – Oliver Nurseries
Culinary Herb Containers Planted with Herbs – Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens
Spring Flowers in a Cachepot – Gardeners Eden
Walnut Herbal Tea Chest – Bigelow Tea
Garden Theme Entry Mat – The Phares Family

Tickets available at WHS prior to and on the day of the Tour

All proceeds from the Hidden Garden Tour benefit the Westport Historical Society.

The Gardeners’ Gardens

Follow in the steps of hands-on gardeners
who created special landscapes

WICKLOW – The road to Wicklow leads through a dense woodland setting that belies the pristine open meadows ahead.  This owner’s love of gardening is evident as you stroll along the shrub rose path leading to a reflecting pool or linger on the secluded terrace graced by flowering azaleas and low growing specimen evergreens.  Across from a brick lined path, raised beds display an array of fanciful planters and architectural fragments. Vegetables and annuals mingle with peonies and iris and juxtapose a stand of blueberry bushes and experimental dwarf peach trees.

A HIDDEN TREASURE – Discretely hidden from a busy street, these intimate gardens hint of simpler times, and are tended by two owners who regard themselves as “caretakers” of this historic property.  Beds filled with ferns, perennials, shrubs and annuals flank the entrances of their restored saltbox style home.  An herb garden borders a patio for two, and an existing terrace is redefined under an exquisite old sugar maple.  Tucked away in a shade garden, a simple wooden bench overlooks a small goldfish pond, while a sunny fieldstone retaining wall provides the perfect backdrop for informal perennials and a rock garden.

ROMANCE AND ORNAMENT – A Victorian home built in 1865 by the Westport Jennings family provides the inspiration for the surrounding traditional garden rooms.  Edged grass pathways form pleasing geometric beds filled with clipped boxwood and perennials.  David Austin roses, lilacs, hydrangea, spirea and rose-of-Sharon play their part as old-fashioned plants in a traditional design.  Roses trained on a series of copper arbors create a romantic tunnel.    In the gardener’s signature style, pairs of elegant classical urns are casually planted with trailing annuals.

BOGMOOR – The plan of this garden encompasses a series of contemplative thresholds.  Gates, arbors, fences, and trellises suggest both boundary and passage, where room-like garden spaces gradually reveal their special features unfolding into themed spaces: a blue and white garden, as Asian-styled spirit garden and a formal garden bordered by towering hedges and generous rose arbors.  Over the last 15 years, scores of trees, hundreds of shrubs, thousands of perennials, and tens of thousands of bulbs have been planted. While the gardeners love the show of flowers, they sublimely illustrate the essential interplay of form, foliage, texture, and structure – the bones of the garden.

COTTAGE EXUBERANCE – Step through a rose covered arbor on to a grassy carpet and gaze at the surrounding cottage garden filled with a profusion of color.  Yarrow, peonies, nepeta, Russian sage, phlox, annuals, grasses and flowering shrubs mingle in a continuous rectangular border enclosed by a picket fence.  Featured in the center is a birdbath encircled by soft silver lamb’s ear and a low boxwood hedge.  The flat sunny land offered limitless design possibilities, but the gardener chose to emphasize the plantings over the plan in creating the informal garden that at its peak is a celebration of color, form and fragrance.

HISTORIC BEAUTY RENEWED – An 18th century farmhouse and its surrounding gardens posed a welcome challenge for its present owners as they approached reconstruction respecting their inheritance while accommodating their contemporary needs.  A working vegetable garden was enlarged, golden raspberries planted, and old perennials divided.  Sacrificial plants, strategically placed, now draw the attention of hungry deer from valued plants, and herbs are used in profusion. The informal planting of flowers, vegetables, herbs and mature shrubs beautifully captures the sense of then and now.


President – Wally Woods
Executive Director – John Lupton

Event Chairwomen
Joni Andrews, Judi Barrero, Sarah Shaw

Linda Adelman, Heather Allen, Lucy Ambrosino, Ronnie Bloch, Cathy Blount,
Linda Gates, Lillian Gilman, Krista Hayward, Sharon Jacobson, Sue King,
Cynthia Lee, Paula Leonard, Jodi Mack, Kariene Maloney, Dency Mann,
Denise McLaughlin, Mary Ann Neilson, Sally O’Brien, Shayne Phares, Lee Platt,
Carrie Ann Potts, Hilary Stevens, Pat Sullivan, Bobbie Williams

The Committee wishes to thank our generous sponsors, contributors
and the many volunteers who work on the day of the tour.
Our special thanks to the property owners for sharing their beautiful gardens.

A Preview of One of the Gardens

Saturday morning in November and the forecast is for a miserable, rainy weekend, yet I am getting dressed to walk around a garden!  At 10 AM, I meet with seven other Garden Tour committee members at a house that I have probably driven past a hundred times without noticing.  Most of us are under umbrellas, a few in their waterproof garden clogs, and two just have a hood pulled over their head stubbornly ignoring the rain.  Today we will observe every aspect of this garden and we will query to determine what delights will be in bloom next June.

The house is special – a small home newly shingled and painted to reflect its 200-year-old heritage.  The front has an awesome sugar maple, yet there are very few leaves in the beds – already a sign of caring gardeners.  The old rock wall isn’t on the property line, but it provides another reminder of the history of the property.  This was part of an 18-acre onion farm that several families called home.  The oldest records that the owners can trace are handwritten and hard to read in the Fairfield land records since Westport was not yet incorporated.  Against a tall tree is a ladder, built without a single nail leaning against another magnificent sugar maple.  A reminder that the early life of this land was as a working farm before it entered the 21st century.

As we round the corner and face the back yard, we see why we are here.  While not a huge garden, it has many different spaces each planted to take advantage of the light, the stony outcroppings and the magnificent trees planted by some of those early owners.  The chicken coop and the barn have been redeployed as a garage and guest space.  Perennial gardens sit within rock defined borders.  In the center of the garden is “the lady” who was there when the owners bought the house eight years ago – a sculpture – but more – a presence that oversees the gardens.  In a high corner is a terrace built up with a neat rock wall that looks as if it has always been there, but I think it could be a new touch to make this garden a wonderful entertainment space.

We walk through the kitchen herb garden and admire the beauty berry bush with its vibrant purple berries.  Nearby is a Japanese Maple tree grafted by a friend who is a horticulturalist, not a gardener (I went to the dictionary for the clarification).  The tree is bare of any leaves but has a beautiful shape – low and wide and cascading down to the ground.  They said it was named Waterfall by its creator.

As we collect and thank the owners for guiding us through their garden, we whisper among ourselves that this would be a great garden for the tour.  It is a real garden that any one of us could create.  It is inspiring to wander in the steps of other gardeners who have taken their property from very nice to special.  It is a treat for me to walk with the committee members who are so knowledgeable and able to articulate things that I can only see as features.  We whisper among ourselves that this could be a great addition to the tour – while we are standing in the rain.  We know that the decision will be made after we see a few more gardens and gather upstairs at the Westport Historical Society in a small room to select the final few that will be complementary and special enough for this year’s tour.  I know it is time to get off to the gym, and yet, I too am drawn to stand in the rain a few more minutes while we talk about this garden.

By Denise McLaughlin