Hollister House Garden’s “Late Season” Plant Sale Plus
Those great sweeps of bright orange day lilies that looked so vibrant and “country” in our garden in July? Nothing but yellowing foliage and dry stalks now. The thyme-and-alyssum walk that was the essence of charm just a few weeks ago? Shot-to-seed, and in its present cut-back state, looking like a bunch of Marine recruits with freshly-shaved heads. The roses have black spot, and let’s not even discuss what the slugs have done to everything else.
The garden in August, even a better garden than ours and a better August than this one, makes the garden in winter look inviting by comparison. (Things long dead at least have some elegaic appeal; recently demised is just harrowing.) But who thinks of these things in May when we’re haunting the nurseries, looking for fresh ideas? Not us. We’re too busy being seduced by all those perky little early-summer promises.
What we need now, in late August, is precisely what Hollister House, George Schoellkopf’s remarkable garden in Washington, CT, is offering—a sale of late-season plants, that will enable us to match our problems with inspired solutions without overtaxing our none-too-fertile horticultural imagination.
This Friday and Saturday, Hollister House will be offering a wide selection of unusual, late-blooming perennials and foliage plants, as well as the kind of shrubs and trees—ones with bright berries or exfoliating bark—that add interest to the fall and winter landscape. The organizers of this event have fielded an all-star team of specialty plantsmen, who will be set up and ready to sell the night before the official sale. On Friday, August 28th, patrons, supporters, and new friends of Hollister House will gather for a gala (cocktails and a buffet supper in the garden) and early-shopping opportunity. Renny Reynolds, one of the country’s foremost designers and landscape architects, will be Schoellkopf’s special guest and co-host. The public is invited to attend.
But the visiting plantsmen are the real stars of this show. Coming all the way from Bristol, VT is Rocky Dale Gardens, renowned for their hardy plants and unusual perennials. Ed Bowen from Opus in Little Compton, RI is known, among the knowing, for his inventory of rarities. The plant hounds from Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT promise some new introductions, as well as some of their own favorites for providing fall and winter interest. Among others sellers: Rural Intelligence‘s friend Bob Hyland of Loomis Creek Nursery,in Claverack, NY with his unusual and finely-tuned color palette; John O’Brien of O’Brien Nurserymen, with his vast collection of hostas and other shade lovers; and the famed Asian-peony producers from Cricket Hill Gradens of Thomaston, Connecticut.
Fabulous plant sale aside, any excuse to visit this garden ought to be grabbed. There are lots of amusing gardens in our region, but, in our experience, only a few are worth driving more than an hour to see. Hollister House is one of them. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to the Cotswalds.
Though still in private hands, Hollister House Garden is nonetheless now operating as a non-profit, and is open to the public every Saturday in season. More important, it is and ever shall be under the protection of a board of trustees who answer to the Gardens Conservancy. Thanks to Schoellkopf’s foresight and generosity, once he is no longer in a position to care for his remarkable creation, Hollister House Garden will be turned over to the Conservancy, along with a sufficient endowment to cover its care in perpetuity. Fortunately, Schoellkopf is still a fit young man. He is also affable. If you get lucky, he will be on hand the day you visit to answer all your questions.
Hollister House Garden
300 Nettleton Hollow Road
Washington, CT; 860.868.2200
Gala preview party: Friday, August 28, from 6 p.m.
Tickets: $90; reservations essential
Rare plant sale: Saturday, August 29th, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Gardens open for touring: Saturdays until September 26
September hours: 10 am - noon & 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Suggested donation $3