Step into the garden: Walking tours return to Stonington Borough

Walking tour returns to Stonington Borough

Gardens By The Sea, a walking tour of 10 private gardens in Stonington Borough, is planned for Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11. Hosted every three years by The Stonington Garden Club, this event usually attracts thousands of visitors throughout New England.

Surrounded by salt water on three sides, Stonington's charm began with settlement in the eighteenth century. Most of the large, Greek Revival houses date from the nineteenth century, when the wealth came from the whaling and sealing industries. Stonington sea captains brought back experienced Portuguese seamen hired in the Azores, who also settled in the village.

Aside from its seaside location, the village's unique shops and restaurants add to the charm. The 2011 tour will offer a rare glimpse of 10 secret gardens behind the walls and gates of the borough's historic properties.

The tour begins with a charming English-style garden that captures attention with its pink roses peeping through a white fence. A cherry tree graces the corner of a brick path which leads to a newly renovated garden, planned by the owner to create a quiet sanctuary. Yew and privet hedges offer privacy while a Rosa American Pillar artfully climbs on the garage roof. Hostas and ferns thrive under the shade of a mature Cryptomeria.

Further down the street is a delightful front garden with ivies and sedums, highlighted by a mature Tamarisk tree, Lavender, Roses and Cerastium. Behind the fence, Annabelle and Lace Cap Hydrangea add color while Peonies, Iris, Wisteria and Hostas create a peaceful retreat for conversation and dining. Visitors can also step inside the owner's art studio to view this secret garden, as well as paintings and party space.

To the left of a nearby townhouse, metal gates lead visitors to a waterside oasis where garden décor and sculptures abound. This well-designed garden features a 30-year-old rose hedge, a unique outdoor fireplace and pergola with seating area beyond.

In addition to these gardens, there are seven more in the borough that will be open to the public. Highlights include an estate garden with 12-foot high stone walls, a formal garden bursting with color, and a hidden garden with spectacular views of Stonington Harbor and Fishers Island.

Plant guides will be available and garden club members will be on hand to answer your questions.

Gardens By The Sea tours run both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $25, or $30 the day of the tour. A stamped, self-addressed envelope and check can be mailed to Stonington Garden Club, P.O. Box 385, Stonington, CT, 06378.

Additional information and a ticket brochure are available at www.stonington-gardenclub.org or 860-531-TOUR. The Stonington Garden Club is a member of Garden Club of America and The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.

Proceeds from the tour benefit the club's civic beautification projects and educational and environmental awareness programs.

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