Hollister House Garden Revisited

The Grey Garden at Hollister House in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The Grey Garden at Hollister House (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those that think New England gardens really don’t hit their stride until June or July, you haven’t been to Hollister House Garden (in Washington, CT) in May.  Allow me to be the first to dispel the myth that May gardens are boring, because right now that place is rockin’ with vibrant tulips, dazzling daffodils, and cornflower blue forget-me-nots (Myosotis) sprinkled about as if a piece of the sky dropped down to frolic amongst the plants.  And don’t be fooled into thinking that bulbs are the only thing happening in this “informal and rather wild” garden, oh no.  Instead, let me take you on a little stroll and show you exactly what’s going on during this prime time in mid-spring.

Hollister's stunning blue Forget-me-nots in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Hollister’s stunning blue Forget-me-nots (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Of course there are hellebores, Japanese wood poppies, bleeding hearts and woodland phlox intermingled along a shady hillside, but when have you last seen the curious shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia), a shade loving perennial from the aster family?  Yet even the common bed members are delightfully unusual; Helleborus ‘Winter Dream Black’ with petals of the deepest plum standing near Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’ whose glowing foliage provides the perfect contrast for its strands of crimson heart-shaped tassels.

An inviting doorway in the Hollister garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

An inviting doorway in the Hollister garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Since we’re on the subject of all-that-glitters-is-gold, radiant plants are something else in abundance at Hollister House Garden. In shady areas, there are chartreuse hosta and bright yellow carex placed so that they can illuminate the darker spots of the garden, while golden spirea has been dispersed throughout the gardens with abandon.  In one section of the walled garden, the latter was paired with a burgundy foliaged companion, creating a divine duo. And stunning combos are another aspect of the Hollister gardens sure to inspire even the most doubting May visitor, as there are no holds barred when it comes to shaking things up with bold colors.

Consider a walkway lined with coral and burgundy heuchera, some blue forget-me-nots scattered between, and flanked with a row of blood orange tulips.  Or masses of black violas woven between a row of creamsicle tulips and backed by a tightly pruned boxwood hedge.

One of Hollister's colorful borders in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

One of Hollister’s colorful borders (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Sometimes one stunning specimen, such as the tangerine hued ‘Marksman’ dwarf iris, is all it takes to ignite the landscape. This doesn’t necessarily mean these are selections you would choose for your own garden (but if it feels good, do it), however if the colorful plantings make you smile-the ultimate purpose of a garden is to give enjoyment after all-then take a seat on one of the many benches placed throughout the garden rooms and allow yourself a moment of reflection.

** Here are other GREAT GARDENS you may want to visit ~

Beautiful magnolia blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Beautiful magnolia blossom (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Since its beginning in 1979, Hollister House Garden has amassed a plethora of delectable plants, shrubs and trees which are planted throughout the gardens as well as along the meandering pathways and property borders.  In bloom during my recent visit were: crabapples, magnolias, fragrant viburnum and fothergilla, while waiting in the wings were iris, poppies, peonies, mints and lovage, to name a few.  Brilliant red leaves of maples were unfurling, offering both a stunning contrast to the blue sky and to the multitude of nearby garden companions as well.  Other foliage was emerging from slumbering stems, illuminating areas with shades of crisp apple green and lemon yellow.

A babbling brook at Hollister House Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

A babbling brook at Hollister House Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Throughout your stroll around the many rooms, lawn areas and terrace, you have smelled, touched and sniffed a smorgasbord of plants; all the while a soothing sound was wafting on the wind . . . the sound of water.  Water tumbling over rocks, water trickling from a nearby fountain, water flowing gently along a bank.  There is a brook that follows the entire west portion of the garden, with vantage points to sit and view the water as it flows down over mossy boulders.  Butterflies flutter overhead and frogs bask on the bank amongst the various plantings.  The lower portion of the garden opens up to a view of the Sprain Brook, where a set of stone steps leads you down for closer observation, or you can sit at a cozy gravel patio and gaze at the reflections of blossoms in the water’s clear surface.  All in all, Hollister House Garden is a garden for the senses and a garden for all seasons.

For more info and visiting hours: www.hollisterhouse garden.org

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