A Connecticut Garden Odyssey – Hollister House

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, Hollister House Garden

A view from the Apple Tree Terrace out over the Walled Garden at Hollister House.

During my weekend in Connecticut, touring private gardens open in Litchfield County through the Garden Conservancy, I spent an afternoon at Hollister House Garden in Washington, CT. I planned this part of my trip to take advantage of the fact that on the Saturday of that weekend, this garden was open from 3 to 6 pm, which I hoped would afford me more opportunities to have good light for photographing it.

Hollister House was begun in 1979 by its present owner, George Schoellkopf, and is sited on 25 acres of fields and partially wooded landscape. Most of the garden rooms – for this is a property that has many such areas – radiate out from a rambling but appealing 18th century farmhouse building and its surrounding outbuildings.

Hollister House Garden, Garden Conservancy

One of the lush perennial borders at Hollister House, with a farmhouse building in the background

“Romantic” is a good word to describe the feeling of this garden. As in some of the famous English gardens (Sissinghurst, Hidcote, and Great Dixter come to mind), there is a deliberate combination of formal structure and lush, informal plantings. Paths and openings in high hedges and brick walls lead the visitor’s eye and invite you to explore. There is even a “Gray Garden” close to the house, which  mixes whites, grays and cool blue tones around a boxwood-structured space.

Hollister House garden, Garden Conservancy

The "Gray Garden" at Hollister House

Hollister House Garden, Garden Conservancy

Dahlias, Japanese maples and upright yews help create a beautiful mixed border area adjacent to the Gray Garden

Gravel paths were everywhere, easy on the feet and the eye, and providing a medium into which a surprising number of plants had seeded themselves successfully.

Hollister House Garden, Garden Conservancy

A gravel path along the Brook Walk as the light fades at the end of the day.

Hollister House, Garden Conservancy

A small seating area near the Garden House, on the other side of the Walled Garden, with dahlias in bloom behind a bench and overflowing pots.

Hollister House Garden, Garden Conservancy

The gravel-based "Blueberry Plantation" area of the garden, planted with vegetables and sporting a large blue-hued metal container as a focal point.

I’ll end this post – as I began it – with one of my favorite shots: a partial view of the reflecting pool in the Walled Garden.

Hollister House Garden, Garden Conservancy

A small seating area in the Walled Garden, with the reflecting pool to the left.

Hollister House Garden is now owned jointly by Mr. Schoellkopf and a non-profit organization he has founded that is dedicated to the preservation of the garden and the house for the public’s enjoyment and education. It is a project of the Garden Conservancy, and the Board of Directors includes, among others, author Page Dickey and Marco Polo Stufano, former director of horticulture at Wave Hill. This is a garden not to be missed, and I hope to return again soon.

For those of you who might be in New England during gardening season, Hollister House holds visiting hours every Saturday from May through September, and offers group visits by appointment. Check its website for details.

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7 Comments on “A Connecticut Garden Odyssey – Hollister House”

  1. sequoiagardens Says:

    Lovely photographs of a lovely garden, thanks for posting, Melissa!


  2. Might never have seen Hollister House were it not for your magnificent photos. Thanks.

  3. Melissa Says:

    So happy both of you enjoyed it, Jack and Allan! I could have easily spent more time there and would love to see it in the spring, although it is only open to visitors from May through Septemeber.

  4. gardeningasylum Says:

    Hi Melissa, Those are great photos, especially that opening shot with the overhanging tree limb framing. So glad for the work Garden Conservancy does.

    • Melissa Says:

      Cyndy, thanks for stopping by. I loved that view and had to work hard to tone down the area in the distance because the sun was so bright, so thanks for the compliment. Yes, the GC is very involved with this garden and it’s certainly a real gem. Hope you get to see it at some point if you haven’t been there yet.


  5. Hmmmm, a grey garden…


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