recent Garden Conservancy Tour brought me to Hollister House Garden, overlooking the rolling hills of Litchfield County in northwestern Connecticut. The garden surrounds a rambling 18th century house set on 25 acres of beautiful wooded countryside with a winding brook and large pond. The garden itself is modeled after such classic English gardens as Sissinghurst , Great Dixter and Hidcote—formal in its structure, but informal and a little wild in its style of planting. Its pathways lead you through a series terraced garden rooms surrounded by tall walls and hedges which offer inviting glimpses of the landscape beyond.
Hollister House Garden is a 30-year labor of love by antiques dealer George Schoellkopf. George ran a gallery of 18th and 19th century antiques and folk art in New York City, so the garden was a weekend hobby for many years. He collected old stone, brick, wood and other man-made materials to complement his historic house, barns and outbuildings. 100-year old granite curbing, salvaged from Hartford road renovation projects, forms terraces, wide stairs and pathways that lead the visitor from one garden room to the next.
The garden at Hollister House is abundant with both common and exotic plants, arranged in captivating combinations. Highlights of the garden in May include extensive plantings of tulips, iris and forget-me-nots, followed by old-fashioned roses and hybrid peonies in June, a magnificent 60-foot-tall Stewartia pseudocamellia covered in white blossoms in July, and unusual daylilies and true lilies in August. During my visit in late August, I was treated to towering dahlias, hydrangeas, Joe Pye Weed and stands of phlox.
Hollister House Garden is located in Washington, CT, and open to the public on Saturdays from late April to late September. It can be combined with a trip to White Flower Farm in neighboring Litchfield and Cricket Hill Nursery (specializing in peonies) in nearby Thomaston. For more information about visiting Hollister House, see hollisterhousegarden.org. The garden was featured on the Martha Stewart Show in 2010, and a video tour of the garden is available at www.marthastewart.com/251662/hollister-house-english-garden. Treat yourself to a visit to this garden destination!