At 15 Years, Trade Secrets Is A Mix Of The Old And The New
By Paige Darrah
For Martha Stewart and carloads of other less famous gardeners, May means one thing: Trade Secrets Rare Plant and Garden Antique Show in Sharon, CT. If you’re one of them — or want to see what all the buzz is about — grab your Barbour jacket and join the straw-hatted crowd at the two-day garden party Flower magazine has dubbed “the Northeast’s garden event of the year.”
Trade Secrets began 15 years ago with 35 vendors in interior designer Bunny Williams’ backyard. Its mission was to help raise money for Women’s Support Services (WSS), an organization that’s been providing emergency shelter, a 24-hour hotline and counseling to domestic violence victims in greater northwest Connecticut since 1981.
“Trade Secrets provides the necessary funding for our support and community education programs,” says Lori Rivenburgh, executive director of WSS. “We work very closely with the local police and state troopers, which means we’re able to provide immediate support to domestic abuse victims.” Trade Secrets netted $230,000 in 2014, which represents one-third of the WSS operating budget. “I can’t thank all the volunteers and supporters enough for all that they have done for the past 15 years,” she says.
The event — which is run by those invaluable volunteers — has expanded to include 61 carefully curated vendors (eight of whom will be making their TS debut) who are some of the nation’s best-known small nurseries and specialized growers. But it’s more than the greenery you go for: this is where you source high-end outdoor furniture, statuary, wrought iron fencing and other garden accoutrements you won’t find at those big box stores.
Vertical garden from MyHouseLeeks.
Among the eclectic new vendors peddling their wares this year is sculptor Peter Busby of Cornwall, Ct., whose work has been commissioned everywhere from the Dallas Zoo, to Alaska’s State Council on the Arts, to nearby Hotchkiss. He’ll be selling his antiquity-inspired vase sculptures [above], which are a weave of steel rods. Because you can see through them, they don’t overwhelm the environment they’re in, says the artist.
Low-maintenance gardeners should swing by the booth claimed by MyHouseLeeks, which will be filled with hardy alpine succulent plants. MyHouseLeeks will introduce its specialty birdhouses, the roofs and entrances of which are carpeted with hardy alpine succulents.
Day Two of Trade Secrets is devoted to exploring four of the most alluringly private gardens in the RI region, and this year’s self-guided tour features a mix of the new and the familiar. On the itinerary for the first time is the spring garden at Twin Maples in Salisbury, and the clever, seductively understated garden at Rockwood Farm in Cornwall. Returning this year are the “deliciously odd” garden of renowned designer and antique dealer, Michael Trapp and, of course, the Falls Village garden of Trade Secrets’ founder, Bunny Williams. The designer invites attendees to tour her aviary that’s stocked with unusual chickens and fantail doves, Adirondack-style pool house, vegetable gardens, greenhouse, conservatory and apple orchard.
Sam Spano of Copper Fields Design & Studio.
The $125 ‘Early Buying’ tickets will include breakfast and a two-hour leg up on the gardeners who buy the $40 regular admission. For the tenth year in a row, the event will be held on the Sharon/Salisbury border at Elaine LaRoche’s vast, sunflower-filled Lion Rock Farm. The event ends at 3 p.m. and all proceeds from ticket sales go to WSS.
Trade Secrets at Lion Rock Farm – Saturday, May 16th
Early Buying: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., $125
Regular Buying: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., $40
Trade Secrets Garden Tours – Sunday, May 17th
Gardens are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $70 ($60 if purchased in advance)
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (860) 364-1080 or visit the website.
Trade Secrets: It’s A Good Thing For Gardeners And WSS, May 18, 2014
Trade Secrets: New Vendors Join The Perennial, May 5, 2014
Trade Secrets: The Ultimate Destination for Plants and Antiques, May 4, 2013
Trade Secrets: A Lollapalooza of Antiques and Gardens, May 15, 2012