Trade Secrets: New Vendors Join The Perennial
Martha Stewart and Manhattan florist Zezé at last year’s Trade Secrets.
Trade Secrets is northwestern Connecticut’s grandest garden party of the year. What started 14 years ago at Bunny Williams’s Falls Village home as a community rare-plant-and-antique sale for charity has morphed into a two-day, horticultural carnival—our region’s unofficial kick-off to the planting season.
Day one is devoted to shopping at the sprawling Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, CT. The grand estate and working farm will feature 60 booths under tents pitched on its picturesque property. Many of the featured nurseries and antiques dealers put aside special, hard-to-find merchandise for the occasion, in hopes their wares will shine the brightest to buyers.
The volunteers who organize Trade Secrets are picky about the dealers whom they invite to participate; the event is vetted. “I’ve been waiting for years to come,” says Amabel Chan of Marvin Gardens in Wilton, CT. Her store, which specializes in architectural pieces, will be featuring antique pig troughs along with a selection of platters, servers and water pitchers. Marvin Gardens is one of several vendors making its debut at this year’s fundraiser, along with Conifer Kingdom out of Silverton, OR; Italian Terrace, a UK-based company; and The Flower Company from Kittery, ME.
Pig trough turned planter from Marvin Gardens.
Brent Markus of Conifer Kingdom is bringing 100 varieties of Japanese maples and dwarf conifers. “We like to bring a huge selection of trees you might not see in northwest CT,” he says.
Italian Terrace will offer a selection of vases and oil jars in a range of sizes. “I’m particularly excited about showcasing our Vaso Cantina planter. It’s a gorgeous pot suitable for a range of planting and always a show stopper,” says the store’s Elizabeth Goodrich.
Serious shoppers come with pickup trucks and vans (only a masochist would arrive here in a MINI Cooper and be unable to take home a tree peony or wrought-iron bench, though there is an on-site shipping service for large items.) Plantaholics—such as Trade Secrets regular Martha Stewart who is always the first to arrive—purchase the $125 Early Entry tickets which allow them to shop from 8-10 a.m. (continental breakfast included). Tickets for regular shopping hours (10 a.m. - 3 p.m. are $40, and all proceeds benefit Women’s Support Services, a not-for-profit agency that provides support to victims of domestic abuse and violence in northwestern Connecticut and nearby towns in Massachusetts and New York.
Trees from Conifer Kingdom.
Trade Secrets is fun even if you’re not a high-octane shopper because of the people watching: Many women come dressed in haute garden regalia as if they lived in the English countryside—they’re decked out in MuckBoots, Barbour jackets, pearls, and straw hats. “The setting is beautiful, whether rain or shine, the vendors are all of a very high quality and the organizers are fantastic,” says Italian Terrace’s Goodrich. “Trade Secrets is really an exceptional garden event and one not to be missed for anyone who loves gardening.”
Day two is devoted to self-guided tours at four exceptional gardens. As always, Bunny Williams will open her doors to visitors who’ll be able to explore her aviary, parterre garden, apple orchard, woodland and vegetable-and-cutting gardens, greenhouse, conservatory and Adirondack-style pool house.
Trade Secrets at Lion Rock Farm – May 17
Early Buying: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Admission: $125
Regular Buying: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Admission: $40
Trade Secrets Garden Tours – May 18
Gardens are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $70 ($60 if purchased in advance)
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (860) 364-1080.