Trade Secrets: A Lollapalooza of Antiques and Gardens
Once a year during Trade Secrets Weekend, the Litchfield Hills resemble the pages of an English gardening magazine, which is fitting since many of the pre-revolutionary towns (Cornwall, Kent, Salisbury) were settled by the British. The two-day Trade Secrets extravaganza—an antiques and rare-plant sale on Saturday, May 19, and garden tours on Sunday, May 20—is a gloriously genteel and good-hearted affair to benefit Women’s Support Services, a regional non-profit organization that offers free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence in northwest Connecticut as well as nearby Massachusetts and New York State.
Since its founding in 2001 at Bunny Williams’ estate in Falls Village, CT, Trade Secrets has been written up in countless magazines, and gardening aficionados and shopping fanatics from across the country make the pilgrimage to Passports owner Elaine La Roche’s Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, CT, where 54 vendors, who’ve been coming year after year, set up booths under a variety of small and large tents. “There’s been a waiting list to become a vendor, and this year Elaine gave us more space so we could add ten more booths,” says Hunter Bee owner Kent Hunter, the co-chair of the vendor committee. “It’s always been a selective and curated group of plant and antiques dealers, so we really tried to add a new dimension to the mix. We’re really excited about the Italian Terrace Collection out of the U.K., which does beautiful, massive terra cotta jars up to eight feet tall. There’s BeaconWorks from Warren, NY, that does these wonderful stained-glass and iron structures that look like pagodas. And Vieuxtemps Porcelain is a Charleston-based company that makes the most exquisite and delicate flower specimens. We warned them about the wind at Lion Rock Farm but they don’t seem to be worried.”
The garden tour is a mix of the fresh and familiar, too. “We have Bunny’s garden, as always, which people never get tired of visiting,” says Christopher Baetz, the garden tour co-chair. “And we have Jack Highland and Larry Wente’s garden, including their house because they consider it a part of the garden. It’s a modern green house on the road between Millerton and Sharon with spectacular 360 degree views.” Interior designer Debra Blair’s Linden Hill Farm on the top of Wells Hill Road in Lakeville has breathtaking views, too, along with an enviable allee of Linden trees that defines the driveway. “The garden was originally designed by Clive Lodge [who has worked for Oscar de la Renta in Kent] and it’s quite formal. And for the first time we also have Hawk Hill Farm, which is near Lion Rock. It’s a modern vernacular farmhouse set in a valley with unusual views of Mudge Pond.”
If you’re a serious shopper and want the best selection of plants, you’ll want to buy the $100 early buyer’s ticket (which includes continental breakfast) so you can rub elbows with Trade Secrets stalwarts such as Martha Stewart, Carolyne Roehm, Anne Bass and Matthew Patrick Smyth as they do the rounds. And even if you’re not that into gardening or antiques, Trade Secrets is an aesthetic feast offering unparalleled people-watching opportunities, which raises funds for a vital cause.
Trade Secrets at Lion Rock Farm - May 19
Early Buying: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Admission: $100
Regular Buying 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Admission: $35
Trade Secrets Garden Tours - May 20
You can pick up a Garden Tour Map at the information booth on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at LionRock Farm, Route 41 and Hosier Road, Sharon, CT. The booth will open at 9 A.M. Tickets can be purchased at any of the gardens and provide admission to all four gardens.
The Sun Shined for Trade Secrets’ 10th Anniversary, May 15, 2010
Trade Secrets: The Ultimate Outdoor Shopping Party, May 16, 2009
Trade Secrets: Martha Stewart Makes the Scene, May 17, 2008