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Visit to Connecticut Garden Designed by Beatrix Farrand

A few days I visited the  Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Connecticut.

The day was beautiful, sunny and warm, but with no humidity.

The park sits along Long Island Sound. People enjoyed picnics on the extensive lawn that sweeps down to the water.

The gardens behind the house had been my main reason for visiting so of course I had to make my way there.

The house, reflecting a classical revival-style with its 42 rooms, was built in 1906, and Edward and Mary Harkness purchased it the following year.  The 230 acre property, including a farm, became the Harkness’ summer home.   Now the State of Connecticut owns it.

The water in the distance caps this view of the West Garden at Harkness Memorial State Park
The water in the distance caps this view of the West Garden at Harkness Memorial State Park

American landscape architect Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) designed the East and West gardens in the back of the house.

As I walked the gravel paths of the garden areas, I could see long rows of clipped evergreens including boxwood. But the perennial beds caught my eye since many of the flowers were in bloom.

I spoke to Eric,the gardener, who knew much of the garden’s history. He told me about Farrand’s friendship with English garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

Alan Emmet in his book So Fine a Prospect writes about Farrand’s 1895 visit to Miss Jekyll’s garden and her subsequent study of Jekyll’s books.

I could imagine the conversation between these two gardeners as they might have discussed the colors of the perennial beds. Since it was  early summer, whites dominated in the color scheme when I looked across the rows of flowers in bloom.

Just a wonderful trip to a magic garden designed long ago, but still there and open for a visit.

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