To be totally transparent, I never planned to write a guide on the dreamiest gardens in Connecticut.
Don’t get me wrong; I love a good garden. But at the start of 2020, my travel goals were decidedly loftier. Most of them involved sunning myself along the Mediterranean while checking European gems off my bucket list.
Of course, this was back when I didn’t know how good I had it. When I could impulsively book a flight to a dream destination without so much as a thought of face masks.
(Remember that? No? Me neither.)
Anyway, as we all know, this year had other plans. Think more “local travel” with frequent stopovers in the living room…and kitchen…and dining room…
While the downtime inspired some fun at-home staycation ideas, it left me itching for adventure.
Plus, as the owner of a travel-focused Instagram account, there’s a constant pressure to engage my audience with wanderlust-inducing content.
Unfortunately, however, I don’t typically derive inspiration from my home state. Plus, as a four-year Connecticut resident, I thought I’d cashed in on the major content opportunities.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this wild year, it’s to dig deeper.
So, as I started scouting photo locations, pretty gardens in Connecticut began popping up.
Since pastel flowers are a natural fit for my whimsical Instagram feed, it made good business sense to visit them.
After visiting our third garden, I realized I’d accumulated quite a few pictures and some knowledge along the way.
So, I decided to compile my favorite gardens in Connecticut into a handy guide to inspire your nature excursions.
While my husband and I haven’t been to every garden on this list yet, I’ll be updating this post with additional information as we do.
So grab your sun hat as we explore the prettiest gardens in Connecticut together!
I thought it was fitting to introduce the dreamiest gardens in Connecticut with my favorite thus far: Wickham Park.
One could easily spend an entire day here wandering the beautiful gardens, woodlands, and open fields and never get bored.
The most special aspect of this 250-acre park is that it’s home to ten distinct gardens.
Here’s the full lineup, in no particular order:
- The Irish Garden
- The English Garden
- The Scottish Garden
- The Cabin Garden & Amphitheater
- The Oriental Garden
- The Italian Shrine
- The Lotus Garden
- The Wetlands Garden
- The Sensory Garden
My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting half of the park’s gardens during our first trip. I’ve included pictures of them below, so you can get a better idea of how they look.
I was impressed by how well-manicured the English Garden was. As I wandered through it, I felt as though I was in a dreamy Alice in Wonderland maze!
The English Garden also has some beautiful yellow flowers.
My favorite part of the Scottish Garden was the pillars you see below.
There’s also a pretty fountain here that I’m standing in front of.
The Oriental Garden is stunning.
Across from the large pond, there’s a storybook white footbridge, my favorite element.
My favorite element of the Italian Shrine was the ornamental heart design pictured below.
Can you spot it?
There’s also a beautiful opening of trees leading up to the Italian Shrine. I loved creating some fairytale magic here!
The Lotus Garden was my personal favorite. I loved the charming entranceway and how peaceful and serene it felt here.
In fact, the only sounds my husband and I heard here were a cascading waterfall and frogs croaking!
Again, you can easily spend an entire day in Wickham Park.
Although we only explored half of the gardens on our first trip, I’d like to return to see the rest.
Wickham Park is open daily from the first weekend in April through the last weekend in October. Visiting hours are from 9:30 AM to sunset.
As of June 2020, visitors are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing in groups of five or less.
Picnics on blankets are permitted in appropriate areas. Weekend visitors may also purchase food from the on-site concession stand on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 6 PM.
There are two available bathrooms currently open, one at the nature center and one near the cabin.
As of June 2020, parking costs $5 from Monday – Friday and $7 on weekends and holidays. The park requests that you bring exact change to make the transaction as smooth as possible. Be sure to check here before you visit to confirm pricing.
Wickham Park is located at 1329 West Middle Turnpike in Manchester, Connecticut.
I first discovered Elizabeth Park Rose Garden back in 2018 and it was love at first sight.
This is a pretty big statement, considering our first visit was in winter and there were no roses.
However, the shots you see above were actually taken on our second trip, back in June of 2019.
As the first municipal rose garden in the U.S. and third largest in the country, I’m proud to say this gem’s in my home state.
In addition to gorgeous roses, Elizabeth Park offers over 100 acres of formal gardens, recreational facilities, and the Pond House Café.
It’s also a popular spot for weddings and special events, which you can read more about here.
While the park offers charms year-round, June is the best time to see the roses in their prime. Specifically, the roses are typically in full bloom during the third and fourth weeks of the month.
Despite its name, there’s more to discover at Elizabeth Park Rose Garden than just roses. For a schedule of what’s blooming when in the park, head here.
Elizabeth Park is open from sunrise to sunset year-round. Photography is gladly welcomed and encouraged, so snap away!
That said, take your photos respectfully and with regard to the sanctity of the gardens. For more information regarding park etiquette, refer to their rules and regulations.
While I’m happy to report that this is a dog-friendly park, all canine companions must be leashed.
Restrooms are conveniently located in the Pond House Café.
Elizabeth Park offers free admission, but donations are always appreciated.
Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is located at 1561 Asylum Avenue in West Hartford, Connecticut. There are two park entrances – one at Asylum Avenue (the north side) and one at Prospect Avenue (the east side). For more information and driving directions, head here before you visit.
I’ve frequented metropolitan Stamford quite a bit, but only recently discovered that it’s home to a beautiful arboretum!
Bartlett Arboretum offers miles of trails that take you through a total of twelve gardens.
For a more immersive and educational experience, visitors can download their mobile app to enjoy a self-directed audio tour. You can learn more about this tour app here.
In addition to beautiful gardens, this arboretum serves as a living classroom for children of various ages. To learn more about their educational programs and summer camps, be sure to visit this page.
Bartlett Arboretum is open daily from dawn until dusk. Office hours are Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Make sure to stay on the trails and keep your four-legged family members leashed at all times. For more on park etiquette, head here.
Be advised that the gardens occasionally close earlier due to special events. Be sure to visit their calendar of events before your visit.
Restrooms are located in the Silver Education Building.
Admission to the park is free, but be advised that certain special events will require a ticket purchase.
Bartlett Arboretum is located at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford, Connecticut. You can download driving and public transportation directions from this page.
Would a Gothic Revival mansion strike your fancy? Now what if I told you it was pink?
If I’ve piqued your interest, you must pay a visit to Roseland Cottage.
While the property is technically classified as a museum, the grounds offer a stunning formal parterre garden and garden house.
I mean, how storybook is this pink cottage?
Historic Roseland Cottage was built back in 1846 in the striking Gothic Revival style. It was originally the summer home of Henry and Lucy Brown. The cottage was used to entertain everyone from friends to U.S. presidents. The impressive estate includes a carriage barn, icehouse, aviary, and the longest surviving indoor bowling alley in the nation.
It was later declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I can’t resist pink facades when I see them, which is why I have to experience Roseland Cottage.
By the way, if you’re a pink fan, I recommend you check out my other Instagram guides for some “pink-spiration”:
The Roseland Cottage grounds are open daily to the public from dawn to dusk. The house is open for guided tours as of July 18, 2020.
The grounds are free to visit. Head here for museum pricing.
Roseland Cottage is located at 556 Route 169 P.O. Box 186 in Woodstock, Connecticut.
Driving directions can be found here.
As an anthophile (and a Francophile), I’ve been wanting to visit the lavender fields in Provence for years now.
However, with international travel on hold at the moment, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Lavender Pond Farm in my home state!
While it’s far from the purple majesty of France, there are over 10,000 lavender plants on their 25-acre property!
Full Disclosure: Unlike these other gardens in Connecticut, Lavender Pond Farm didn’t live up to my expectations.
You cannot – I repeat, cannot – go into the experience expecting to see the rolling lavender hills of Provence.
The lavender here is spaced out and sparse, at least when I was here recently (July 2020).
That said, with some patience and creativity, you can still create Instagrammable content here.
I’ve included my best photo tips in my Instagram caption below:
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Expectation: OMG, we’re going to the largest lavender farm in New England (and the first lavender field I’ve ever been to)!! . Reality: This was one of the most challenging locations Stef and I have ever created content at. To give you an idea, after sharing the BTS video in Stories, one of my followers remarked: “That lavender is taking social distancing very seriously!” 🤣 (Btw, I’m re-sharing the video in today’s Stories, so check it out to see what she’s talking about.) . Unfortunately, sparse lavender wasn’t the only challenge. We also battled crowds (despite getting here just minutes after opening on a Monday), harsh sunlight, and heavy humidity. All of a photographer’s favorite things (not)! . Now for the good news! I’m pretty much always down for a photo challenge and believe that decent shots are (almost) always achievable with my special formula: patience + creativity. . SAVE these tips for making a flower field appear fuller than it actually is 👇🏻📝: . 1️⃣ It’s all about the angle. To create the illusion of more flowers, you’ll need to have your photographer crouch down and shoot up and into the flowers. Otherwise, the empty spots/sparse sections will be visible. 2️⃣ Composition always matters, but especially when you don’t have a lot to work with. Ideally, you’ll want to center yourself to create the look of a floral frame around you. 3️⃣ Conceal your feet in the flowers to give the illusion of more depth. . Have you ever visited a spot that was challenging to photograph? How did you overcome the challenge (or not)? . 📸: @stefpap86 . . . . . #lavender #lavenderfields #lavenderfield #lavenderlove #lavenderlover #lavenderfarm #darlingdaily #newengland #newengland_igers #visistnewengland #connecticutgram #girlaroundtheworld #seeingthepretty #speechlessplaces #damestravel #travelinbetween #theeverygirltravels #travelgirldiary #travelpicsdaily #thefairytalebloggers #girlsthatwander #postcardplaces #prettylittletrips #darlingplaces #darlingescapes #travelinladies #girlstraveltale #shewanders #thatsdarlingmovement #charmingplaces
Lavender Pond Farm begins blooming in late June and continues through the summer into September. June and July are typically considered “bloom season,” so these are usually the best months to take photographs.
Lavender Pond Farm is open daily – rain or shine – from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Masks are required in the farm’s on-site shoppe, where capacity will be limited.
They’re also recommended (but not required) in the fields. However, safe social distancing practices must be followed.
Families can opt to take a private train tour and learn about the life of a lavender farmer. These tours cost $25 per family and are offered from Wednesday – Sunday.
As of June 2020, tours are limited to immediate family members only and group tours are not available. Tours are booked in the shoppe on a first come, first served basis.
While there’s no formal bathroom on the property, there’s a convenient port-a-potty for visitors on-site.
Lavender Pond Farm is located at 318 Roast Meat Hill Road in Killingworth, Connecticut.
Head here for directions from various points throughout Connecticut.
When you arrive, park next to the chicken coop on the right if you’re entering from Roast Meat Hill. If the lot’s full, there’s additional parking below the red barn or in the field near the solar Smart Flower.
If you’re visiting from out of town and looking for an overnight stay, they suggest the following local accommodations:
While admission and parking are free, you’ll need to pay for a train tour or for items in the shoppe.
Photo permits may also apply, depending on the purpose of your visit. Again, you can review the photo policy here.
When I first saw a photo of the Florence Griswold Museum Gardens, I felt like I was looking at a dreamy painting.
This was no accident, as the museum is situated on Florence Griswold’s home, the center of the Old Lyme Art Colony and American Impressionism.
In fact, the museum has made it their mission to restore Miss Florence’s garden and orchard. Her property has served as the main painting subject of the Lyme Colony artists.
Today, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historic gardens and the property’s accompanying 12 acres.
The grounds have been open as of June 2020 and the museum followed suit in early July.
Admission is available through 24-hour advance online ticketing only and will be limited. You can find pricing information here.
In addition, be sure to read the safety guidelines so you’ll know the protocol before you visit.
You can also download their visitor guide to learn more about the property and the available walking routes.
The remaining gardens you’ll read about are next up on my wish list. As I visit them, I’ll update the following sections with my own photos and personal insight. For now, however, I’m including links to third-party Instagram photos to give you a better sense of what each looks like.
Hollister House Garden is another one on my must-visit list. It’s owned by a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the house and garden.
This American interpretation of a classic English garden offers a loosely formal structure and a wild planting style.
The garden sits alongside a classic eighteenth century home on 25 acres of countryside.
From the garden, visitors can enjoy a view of eighteenth century barns as well as a winding brook and pond.
Click here to keep up with what’s in bloom and plan your visit accordingly.
To view each of the gardens individually, you can check out their garden gallery.
The garden is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 PM – 4 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM.
Please be aware that picnics are not permitted on the property and that only certified service animals are welcome.
Hollister House requests a small donation of $5 per person to expand their education and outreach efforts.
Hollister House is located at 300 Nettleton Hollow Road in Washington, CT.
If you enjoy a historical garden experience, you won’t want to miss The Webb House Colonial Revival Garden.
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We love hearing your stories of weddings and events held in our historic Webb Barn, which is available for rentals from April-November. 📸 Thank you @historicwethersfieldct for sharing your delightful memory and photo! #Repost @historicwethersfieldct ・・・ The Webb Barn sure looks great this time of the year.... #springhassprung. I had my wedding reception in this #oldbarn... it was a great magical experience, highly recommended. Hopefully (sooner than later) things will get back to the way they were and others can have the same experience. Check out our website (link in bio) > Quick Links > Weddings in Wethersfield #spring #april #flowers #buds #springvibes #weddings #nature #historicdistrict #historical #colonial #colorful #beautiful #photography #history #heritage #tourism #old #historicwethersfield #wethersfield #oldwethersfield #wethersfieldct #connecticut #connecticut_igers #CTvisit #newengland #newenglandliving
Installed by the Connecticut Dames in 1921, this “Colonial Revival” garden was meticulously maintained until 1940.
However, after World War II, the Colonial Dames transitioned to lower maintenance plants. By the 1960s, renovations resulted in garden alterations, with little remaining of the original design by 1970.
Fortunately, in 1999, the Colonial Dames began restoring the property to reflect its historical origins. Although the flowers aren’t a perfect replica, the restored garden contains many of the same flowers from the original design.
You can read more about the history of this beautiful property here.
Today, the property is lovingly maintained by “Garden Angels,” a group of nature-loving volunteers.
As of June 2020, The Webb House Colonial Revival Garden is undergoing construction. This will provide future guests with a new Education and Visitor Center. Construction is expected to be completed in late July; you can read more about it here.
Admission is free.
The Webb House Colonial Revival Garden is located at 211 Main Street in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Directions can be found here.
If roses are your flower of choice, here’s another vibrant option outside of Elizabeth Park.
Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden has been a favorite amongst New Britain residents for nearly 150 years.
The park features a 90-foot memorial to commemorate New Britain’s fallen World War 1 soldiers. It also boasts a striking scenic overlook.
This impressive garden was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American Landscape Architecture.
Additionally, it’s included on the National Register of Historic Places and served as the location for Connecticut’s first flight!
You can read more about the park’s interesting history here.
Admission to the park is free, but the park relies heavily on volunteer support to stay afloat. They’re always looking for help, so if you’d like to contribute, you can learn more about making a donation here.
Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden is located at D7A, 1st St in New Britain, Connecticut. You can access Google map directions here.
Harkness Memorial State Park is the former estate of Edward Stephen and Mary Stillman Harkness. Over the course of their lives, the couple donated approximately $200 million dollars to various charitable, educational, and health-related organizations.
In Connecticut, their generous donations helped fund Yale University, Trinity College, and Connecticut College.
After the couple passed on, the Harkness estate was bequeathed to the State of Connecticut and became a State Park in 1952.
In addition to the magnificent early 20th century buildings, Harkness boasts stunning formal gardens.
You can read more about each of the individual gardens here.
As of June 2020, the park is temporarily closed to the public. However, under normal circumstances, the gardens, grounds, picnic area, and waterfront area are open year-round.
Harkness Memorial State Park is located at 275 Great Neck Road in Waterford, CT.
As you can see, the unassuming third smallest state has quite a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty.
So if you’re looking to explore more of Connecticut in the near future – perhaps on a fun road trip – these impressive gardens await you.
In addition, if you’d like to explore more New England gems, check out my guide to the most charming Massachusetts towns!
Have you visited any of these gardens in Connecticut or any others that didn’t make the list? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!