At least once every summer, Robert and I head north to the beautiful town of Litchfield, CT for our inspiring visit to the White Flower Farm. Originally the property was the summer home of Jane Grant and William Harris, New York based writers. They thought a house in the “country” would offer the quiet they needed to work. But, it was not long before they were seduced by nature and became zealous gardeners. Very quickly, plants and gardening took over their lives.
In the beginning, the developing gardens were private. These curious journalists quickly exhausted the resources of their local suppliers and advisers. At the same time it became obvious to them that American gardening in the 50′s was a backwater and they had the opportunity to provide leadership in a marketplace waiting for someone to take charge.
In the early days of the business when they named the White Flower Farm, they had the endorsement of a few enthusiastic customers who appreciated their quality standards. They served a devoted band of horticulturists looking for old and new ornamental plants as well as the necessary advice to succeed with them. From their commitment to great service and with an experienced staff, The White Flower Farm continues today even though the business has been sold. The White Flower Farm still actively collects and evaluates plants from around the world, discarding those that have weaknesses. I love their trial gardens and look forward to receiving their catalogs with clear and accurate descriptions. It arrives during the dreariest part of the winter and I immediately begin planning for spring.
I go there not only for their great plants but also to swoon over their extraordinary mature border garden. The design principles that drive decisions that we make for bathrooms like proportion, scale, color, and texture, are evident throughout their gardens. The layering of plant materials is breathtaking from tall spiky dark green plants to smaller and softer gray green items. There are small bursts of bright color that catch our eye and lovely expanses of different shaped leaves. Of course, this well planned garden looks different every day as colors come and go, unlike the permanence of bathroom installations.
For those of you living in the Northeast, it is well worth the trip. And while you are in Litchfield you can have lunch at the West Street Grill or go farther south to Woodville to the Community Table or Washington and stop in at the Mayflower Inn.