SHARON — For almost 20 years Trade Secrets Rare Plant and Garden Antiques Sale has been the gardening event of the season. Inspired and developed by interior designer Bunny Williams, it was conceived as a means to support the invaluable work of Women’s Support Services in Sharon. The sole mission of that organization is to create a community free of domestic violence and abuse through intervention, prevention, and education. And Trade Secrets is its primary fundraiser. Bunny’s commitment to this organization, her talent as a designer and stylist and her love and knowledge of gardens and gardening all add up an amazing weekend of being immersed in gardens and gardening accoutrements. From the first year when it was held on Williams’ property, it has grown into one of the major events of the season.
This year the event, held at Lion Rock Farm, 30 Hosier Road in Sharon, will take place on May 18 and 19. For these two days thousands of visitors convene to experience the latest wares from more than 60 vendors from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and one all the way from Kentucky. Included in the mix are growers, nursery owners, antique dealers, and various artisans. This year’s event includes Dawn Hill Antiques, Guy Wolff Pottery, Hammertown Barn,
Pergola Privet House, RT Facts, Cricket Hill Garden, Falls Village Flower Farm, Old Farm Nursery, Tiny Hearts Farm, DBO Home, Kelly & Co., and Womanswork, to name but a few.
Additionally attendees will tour area gardens, including the signature gardens of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli, a perennial favorite and one of the most beautiful spreads around.
One would be hard pressed to find an event that brings together as many people and illustrates the uniqueness of community and camaraderie. Whether you dig in the dirt yourself, have a designated gardener, or enjoy gardens sitting in an armchair and reading about them, Trade Secrets has something for everyone.
“It’s an event with a great sense of community,” says Suzanne Cassano, co-owner of Privet House. “People come from far and wide for the rare garden plants and wonderful antiques, and it’s all presented in a beautiful location..”
The venue, Lion Rock Farm is named for a large natural rock formation on the grounds resembling a lion. It is a 600-acre working farm replete with sumptuous gardens, the barns and the main house. The open landscape makes it ideal for weddings and special celebrations. Situated on rolling hills, the views are spectacular and make the perfect setting for Trade Secrets.
“It’s a feel good event,” continues Cassano. “The volunteers are exceptional and always ready, willing and able to help. And the fact that it is a charitable event benefiting such a wonderful nonprofit organization that does such extraordinary work makes it even more special.”
Rain or shine Trade Secrets goes on. Visitors adjust to the weather and are unhindered by the whims of nature. This is a group out to enjoy the days, discover new resources, experience new ideas and plants, see old friends, and meet new ones. From the do-it-yourself gardener to the likes of Martha Stewart, all meet and mingle and experience the joys of gardening.
“One of the few events that goes on to my calendar a year in advance is Trade Secrets Rare Plant and Garden Antique Show, said Stewart. “Why? Because I find amazing varieties of plants, meet all kinds of extraordinary gardeners and find many antiques and tools for my own garden. It’s exciting, very beautiful and benefits a most worthy cause.”
The highlight of the weekend, of course, is touring the four gardens. This year includes the ever-popular signature gardens of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli, a 12-acre idyllic combination of varied gardens, including woodland, vegetable, parterre, orchard, perennial borders and extraordinary container displays. One can conceivably spend the entire day making discoveries in this enchanted land of gardens.
Good Dogs Farm is the creation of screenwriter Maria Nation and Robert Flores. Nation is a hands-on gardener who buys and plants everything herself. Hand-built garden paths lead to numerous garden rooms, sitting areas, and a large vegetable/cutting garden. She describes the gardens as relaxed and imperfect, hand-wrought and ever-evolving.
Twin Lakes Landscape, set on 58 lakeside acres, was designed by renowned local landscape designer Michael Trapp. Taking his inspiration from the architecture of the new “old” house, he incorporated 19th century elements such as terra cotta floor tiles on the south porch and introduced roses climbing stone walls and boxwoods flanking the cobblestone walks.
The fourth garden is at Cooper Hill Farm, just north of Twin Lakes. Designed by the owner it offers exceptional displays of distinctive woody plants and a series of perennial beds that have grown and evolved over the years. The gardens are framed by remarkable assortment of trees. The farmstead offers spectacular western views of the Taconic range and boasts a magnificent vegetable garden, and a prolific cutting garden.
It is remarkable to find an event that offers as much as Trade Secrets does and has such a staunch and devoted following.
“Trade Secrets is really such an uncommon gathering for such an important cause,” says David Whitman, co-owner of Pergola Home. “You have the best of specialty plant growers, a veteran bunch of antique dealers who nod to the garden, and an audience who so appreciates the mix. And no matter the weather, everyone still comes out to see, buy, and support. This is our 12th year participating and I couldn’t imagine not doing so.”
For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.tradesecretsct.com.