History in Bloom

The historic gardens of Connecticut Landmarks’ properties are museums themselves. They showcase spectacular landscape design and lush flowers, and offer a window into the ways residents of our historic houses used the properties. Three of our sites are members of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens, which cultivates a passion for the diversity of historic gardens at distinctive historic homes in Connecticut. Connecticut’s Historic Gardens brings greater recognition and visitation to member sites, offering visitor experiences rich in beauty and history, and fostering learning.

Since 2004, Connecticut’s Historic Gardens has organized Historic Gardens Day, the last Sunday in June. On Historic Gardens Day, sixteen historic gardens around the state welcome you to explore a variety of beautiful garden styles from different periods. Enjoy free admission to visit the gardens of three participating Connecticut Landmarks sites! Stay tuned to our events calendar for more information as we prepare for 2024’s event.

Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

In 1915, Eliza Ferriday began transforming this property’s aesthetic by establishing a formal parterre garden on the house’s west side. Over a 70-year period, Eliza and her daughter, Caroline Ferriday, created a garden showcasing their love of roses, lilacs and peonies. Through the break in the hemlock hedge, visitors enter the garden they designed. Blossoming from the end of May – June, the rose collection includes Gallicas, Albas, Centifolias, Moss and Damask Roses, as well as several Rugosas. Eliza & Caroline Ferriday also collected 15 different varieties of lilacs, including French varieties inspired by Caroline’s love of French culture & design. The lilacs bloom mid-May – Memorial Day.

Today the garden is lovingly maintained by staff with the aid of the Watertown Garden Club. Bellamy-Ferriday joined CT Historic Gardens in 2004 as a founding member.



Butler-McCook House & Garden

The Butler-McCook House (1782) and Garden (1865) stand as important landmarks on Hartford’s Main Street. Inspired by their European travels, Eliza Butler and Mary Sheldon adapted an original plan by the Swiss landscape architect Jacob Weidenmann for their Victorian ornamental garden. This one-acre green space complements Weidenmann’s designs for nearby Bushnell Park and Cedar Hill Cemetery. The garden is a formal parterre garden featuring low boxwood hedges, with plant beds of roses, perennials, and annuals connected by winding stone paths. Climbing roses and a shade garden adorn the perimeter.

Members of the West Hartford Garden Club carefully tend the garden from April – October. Thanks to their efforts, the garden offers a sanctuary for city dwellers and hosts a popular jazz concert series each summer. Butler-McCook joined CT Historic Gardens in 2004 as a founding member. Can’t make it to Historic Gardens Day? Access our audio guide on any smartphone through the IZI.Travel app onsite or at home.

Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden

Although no original plans remain, it is thought that Oliver Phelps envisioned a French garden within view of the country’s first land office, now the Phelps-Hatheway Pine Room. Gardens in the 18th century were not only spaces of relaxation in changing times, but symbols of the wealth and prosperity desired by Phelps, the rising land speculator. Inspired by this history, the Suffield Garden Club enlisted the expertise of landscape architect Mary Wells Edwards, who designed a formal parterre garden with flowering shrubs, a large herb bed, and period-appropriate trees.

Since 1965, the gardens have been thoughtfully maintained by the Suffield Garden ​Club from April – October. Phelps-Hatheway became the 15th member of CT Historic Gardens in 2018 and continues to add plant material that reflects Mary Edwards’ original design.


More to Explore — Outdoors!

In addition to the manicured garden spaces at our Connecticut Historic Gardens member sites, we invite you to enjoy the gardens and grounds at several of our other sites, too.

Nathan Hale Homestead

The Nathan Hale Homestead maintains a kitchen garden in keeping with what homesteading families would have relied upon in the Revolutionary Period. The garden features herbs and medicinal plants, as well as some ornamental varieties. It is featured in educational programming for field trips, scout groups, and families.

The property (open for responsible use from dusk ’til dawn year-round) adjoins the Nathan Hale State Forest. The forest was established by George Dudley Seymour, who also helped preserve the Homestead.

Palmer-Warner House

The original 1000-acre parcel owned by John & Mehitable Warner stretched to the Connecticut River, but Connecticut Landmarks maintains 50 acres of the stone-walled New England meadow today. The house’s final residents, Frederic Palmer and Howard Metzger, worked to preserve the grounds as they would have been seen in the 18th century, though without grazing animals.

In 2023, Connecticut Landmarks prototyped an interpretive trail for continuing development. If you would like to visit the grounds, please contact us for information.