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Garden Visit: Classic English Garden Style at Hollister House in Connecticut

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Garden Visit: Classic English Garden Style at Hollister House in Connecticut

November 9, 2021

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had plans to tour some of the great English gardens. With my trip on hold, an afternoon at Hollister House Garden felt like the closest thing to a visit to Great Dixter on this side of the Atlantic.

Set amongst the grounds of an eighteenth-century farmhouse in the rolling hills of Litchfield County, Connecticut, Hollister House Garden is an unmistakable nod to classic English garden-style. Former antiques dealer George Schoellkopf started the garden over 40 years ago and drew inspiration from places such as Sissinghurst and Hidcote.

The property’s 25 acres feature many “rooms,” including a rill garden, kitchen garden, and, of course, a walled garden. Gravel paths connect the different spaces, and, in true English garden-style, plants seem to tumble out of every corner and crevice.

Join us for a tour:

Photography by Jackie McKeon.

According to Schoellkopf, this space is called the Grey Garden because he wanted to include pops of blue flowers amidst a predominantly white palette. He felt that visitors would be perplexed if he called it a White Garden due to the shades of blue so he settled on calling it the Grey Garden because he felt that no one knows what a grey garden is supposed to look like.
Above: According to Schoellkopf, this space is called the Grey Garden because he wanted to include pops of blue flowers amidst a predominantly white palette. He felt that visitors would be perplexed if he called it a White Garden due to the shades of blue so he settled on calling it the Grey Garden because he felt that no one knows what a grey garden is supposed to look like.
A relaxing place to sit with a view of the rolling green meadow.
Above: A relaxing place to sit with a view of the rolling green meadow.
Ivy-covered brick walls lead to the Walled Garden where flower beds overflow with peonies, climbing roses, and iris.
Above: Ivy-covered brick walls lead to the Walled Garden where flower beds overflow with peonies, climbing roses, and iris.
A stone reflecting pool and water feature add to the sense of tranquility in the Walled Garden.
Above: A stone reflecting pool and water feature add to the sense of tranquility in the Walled Garden.
The Rill Garden adjoins the historic house with its romantic red brick walls covered in climbing plants, including Euonymus fortunei ‘Sarcoxie,’ Euonymus fortunei ‘Variegatus,’ Rosa ‘Clair Matin,’ and Rosa ‘Dr. Huey.’
Above: The Rill Garden adjoins the historic house with its romantic red brick walls covered in climbing plants, including Euonymus fortunei ‘Sarcoxie,’ Euonymus fortunei ‘Variegatus,’ Rosa ‘Clair Matin,’ and Rosa ‘Dr. Huey.’
The antique stone trough in the Rill Garden is filled with delicate pink water lilies called Nymphaea ‘Giverny Red’.
Above: The antique stone trough in the Rill Garden is filled with delicate pink water lilies called Nymphaea ‘Giverny Red’.
The Kitchen Garden is reached through a fortress-like yew hedge. The Kitchen Garden is no longer focused on growing produce due to the hungry rabbits that wreak havoc on the crops. Instead, it has mainly become a cutting garden with iris, echinacea, peonies, kale, basil, verbena, baptisia, tulips, alliums, and daylilies.
Above: The Kitchen Garden is reached through a fortress-like yew hedge. The Kitchen Garden is no longer focused on growing produce due to the hungry rabbits that wreak havoc on the crops. Instead, it has mainly become a cutting garden with iris, echinacea, peonies, kale, basil, verbena, baptisia, tulips, alliums, and daylilies.
A serene path along the brook with the rolling meadow beyond.
Above: A serene path along the brook with the rolling meadow beyond.
Romantic plants, including daisies and foxglove, grow out of stone stairs that lead to the house.
Above: Romantic plants, including daisies and foxglove, grow out of stone stairs that lead to the house.

Understandably eager to preserve and maintain this unique property for the future, Schoellkopf entered into an agreement with the Garden Conservancy to donate the house and Garden, either during his lifetime or through his Estate, to Hollister House Garden Inc., a non-profit that is dedicated to the property’s upkeep. Since partnering with the Garden Conservancy in 2005, Hollister House Garden has created a comprehensive database of plants, hosted lectures and workshops, and renovated garden spaces and historic structures on the property. To learn more visit www.hollisterhousegarden.org.

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