Sharon >> We are so fortunate. Not only is Litchfield County a particularly well-endowed part of the world in springtime, but we’ve got Trade Secrets right in our own backyard. Literally, the gardening world arrives at our doorstep, laden with plants on the day of this event. And not just any plants. They come bearing truckloads of specimens on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the horticultural world. Not only do they come with plants, but vendors also roll into LionRock Farm in Sharon loaded with antiques, garden furniture, containers, linens, art, artifacts, tools, you name it. Everything you might need to bring your piece of paradise to another level of splendor, contentment, and eco-friendly service is at your service right in the neighborhood for a one day sale extravaganza you don’t want to miss on Saturday May 13th.
But that’s not all. You can tour some outrageously voluptuous local gardens the very next day on Sunday May 14th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and see some of the booty collected at Trade Secrets incorporated into fine gardens. Don’t miss this opportunity to eavesdrop on great gardens and learn from the most astute gardeners in the country. This year features a particularly brilliant line-up that could be a punch card for issues at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now. From edible gardening to sustainable systems and including plants sculpted into art, the Trade Secrets Garden Tour will fill you with inspiration and ideas. Take the opportunity to expand your vistas.
And it’s all for a good cause. The Trade Secrets events benefit Women’s Support Services (WSS), a not-for-profit group with the mission of creating a community free of domestic violence and abuse. The proceeds from the event fund their education and counseling programs as well as helping clients with legal, housing, transportation, and medical emergencies.
A great garden takes time. Sure, compost might help forge a landscape and good taste definitely is part of the brew. But really, it takes time for a garden to settle in to that charmed comfort level where everything is grooving together. That being the case, Coltsfoot Garden — the landscape of Juliet and John Hubbard in Cornwall—has the necessary lineage to make magic happen. And Coltsfoot Garden is one of the featured landscapes on the Trade Secrets Tour. The house has been in the Hubbard family for a century. Under the TLC of a series of astute gardeners including John’s grandmother (who gardened the property for forty-plus years), an aunt, his father, and now John and Juliet, the garden has flourished on many levels, reflecting the interests of the stewards-in-residence.
The current stewards are particularly astute. With almost two acres to play with, John Hubbard expanded on his father’s vegetable garden, embellishing on the partially shaded plot his father tended when he came on weekends. John grew up with the land and gained a special relationship with the earth. Meanwhile, he brought another level of expertise to the landscape when he married Juliet who curated the native plant collection at the New York Botanical Garden and then went on to work at a native plant nursery in upper New York State before the Hubbards moved to Cornwall fourteen years ago. When they came to Cornwall, the current generation of Hubbards began to expand the cultivated spaces, linking them into a long, delicious dialogue. Within a formal rubric of expanded perennial quadrants, Juliet fills the beds with a vast array of plants nestled voluptuously side-by-side to read as communities. Rather than deer fencing, plants with aromatic leaves such as mints, salvias, and monardas are employed to fool predators into assuming that nothing tasty is in the brew. Thoughtfully filled with connoisseur botanicals as well as heirlooms, the garden is fascinatingly intricate and artistic with carefully wrought color combinations. While enjoying the landscape, ask Juliet about her method of increasing self-sowers such as penstemons, foxgloves, Verbena bonariensis, and poppies. Rather than leaving seed dispersal to chance, she waits for the seeds to ripen in autumn before intentionally harvesting and scattering them where she wants another colony. Such a good idea!
From there, the Hubbards forged a much-expanded vegetable garden in a sunnier location on their property. From various snap peas (a family favorite) to lettuce, leeks, onions, asparagus, you name it—this extensive edible garden is meticulously maintained and ardently harvested. This edible space is emphatically not just for the eye and soul, it feeds the family as well. You can learn a lot from the Hubbards about how they rotate and succession plant crops, when they start their seedlings, and how to keep the garden productive.
A few years ago, the Hubbards decided that the house-attached Concord grape arbor planted by John’s father in 1960 should be connected to the vegetable garden via a plant-filled walkway. That’s when they installed perennial beds to tie it all together into a wrap-around vision that unifies the landscape into an enveloping scene. In general, Juliet Hubbard’s gardening method—developed from her work with native plants—is to create a gapless scene. “I like a naturally full and lush garden,” she explained, “there’s a sense of community; it’s almost a meadow but with selected plants.” In the Hubbards’ case, they were able to harness the plant inventory already amassed by past family members. Daylilies, peonies, daffodils, iris, pulmonaria, and other divided plants form the backbone of the garden continually redistributed and inserted where they will make the landscape more poignant. Not only does their expertise make for a sumptuous garden, but the Hubbards are fortunate in their neighbors. Greg and Natalie Randall of R.T. Facts—the exceptional antique salvage shop in Kent—own the adjacent property, making the borrowed views absolutely spectacular. R.T. Facts is a proud vendor at Trade Secrets on the sale date.
Other gardens are also scheduled for the tour including the Major General Ashley House with a Nancy McCabe-designed formal garden plus sinuous topiary hedges carved into whimsical shapes by artist/designer Matt Larkin. This garden’s mature green creations take tongue-in-cheek to a lofty and artistic level. Also on the tour is Pom’s Cabin Farm which features Dale McDonald’s 27 acres that have been planted by a team led by eco-conscientious garden designer Robin Zitter since 2007. At this property, you can visit berry bushes of all types as well as witness shitake mushroom farming and other sustainable land usage in action. And also on top of everyone’s “can’t wait for” list is an opportunity for your annual visit to see Trade Secrets event founder—Bunny Williams—whose own garden is also on the Sunday tour. Always evolving, this brilliantly-appointed design by Williams and John Rosselli continues to enthrall the crowds who come to worship at the feet of these designers-extraordinaire and witness all the new intrigue this ultra-talented couple is up to. Their garden is probably the most magical place on earth—you don’t want to miss it.
Actually, you don’t want to miss any moment of this two day event timed perfectly to coincide with Mother’s Day weekend this year. What a gift for any mom! On May 13 the Trade Secrets Sale at LionRock Farm in Sharon, is scheduled to begin with Early Buying at 8 a.m. for $125 — and trust me, you need to get onto that field when the starting gates open to snag the goodies. Regular buying begins at 10 a.m. for $50 and a new option is late buying at 1 p.m. for $25. The sale ends at 3 p.m. The following day, the Trade Secrets Tour is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 14. Visit www.tradescretsct.com for more information and tickets or call Women’s Support Services at 860-364-1080.