9 gardens and arboretums to explore this summer in CT

Volunteer Martina Dosham works in the greenhouse at Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Volunteer Martina Dosham works in the greenhouse at Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, April 4, 2019.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

This summer, get outside in the sunshine. Connecticut has a plethora of countryside gardens, parks and arboretums to visit. These institutions vary from Instagrammable rose gardens to nature centers dedicated to education and preservation to seaside manors accompanied by English-style flower beds.

Read on for nine gardens, arboretums and parks to visit this summer in CT.

Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens
Stamford

The Bartlett Arboretum offers garden tours and advice on gardening.

The Bartlett Arboretum offers garden tours and advice on gardening.

Michael Cummo / Hearst Connecticut Media

Stamford’s Bartlett Arboretum opened in 1965 and contains 93 acres of open landscape filled with Connecticut’s native plants, including Champion trees, charming gardens, wildflower meadows, red maple wetlands, boardwalks and woodland walking trails. In the summer, Bartlett hosts a concert series and visitors are welcome to bring their dogs for a jog along the trails or a walk among the flowers. Other events include the Honey Harvest Festival in September and the 2022 gala in May.

Open dawn to dusk daily at 151 Brookdale Road, Stamford; 203-487-5264; bartlettarboretum.org

New Canaan Nature Center
New Canaan

The New Canaan Nature Center has received a 84-page report on how to improve the vegetation and animal habitats at the 39-acre park on 144 Oenoke Ridge.

The New Canaan Nature Center has received a 84-page report on how to improve the vegetation and animal habitats at the 39-acre park on 144 Oenoke Ridge.

Grace Duffield / Hearst Connecticut Media

The 40-acre New Canaan Nature Center was established in 1960 and offers plenty of environmental education programs, including an on-site preschool and a summer camp. Facilities include a live Birds of Prey Exhibit, a variety of gardens, a greenhouse and a visitor center. The nature center also has programming for adults, like pop-up yoga classes, composting 101 classes and a hiking class.

9a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan; 203-966-9577; newcanaannature.org

Highstead Arboretum
Redding

Highstead Arboretum in Redding sits on a 100-acre preserve. The arboretum offers hiking trails and self-guided walks along with extensive virtual guises to Highstead’s plant collections. Dogs and bicycles are not permitted on the premises.

Call for appointment hours; 127 Lonetown Road, Redding; 203-938-8809; info@highstead.net; highstead.net

West Hartford
Elizabeth Park

The Elizabeth Park Conservancy in Hartford, Conn. July 2021

The Elizabeth Park Conservancy in Hartford, Conn. July 2021

Lisa Nichols

Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford is on the National Register of Historic Places. The park offers formal gardens, green spaces, picnic areas and recreational facilities along with The Pond House Café, an in-park restaurant serving brunch, lunch and dinner. The garden also hosts events like concerts, rose-pruning clinics, outdoor movies and more.

Open sunrise to sunset daily at 1561 Asylum Ave., West Hartford; 860-231-9443; elizabethparkct.org

Connecticut College Arboretum - 270 Mohegan Ave., New London

The Connecticut College Arboretum has more than 750 acres of plant collections, according to its website. The arboretum offers interactive virtual maps, including a trail map, a map of the Caroline Black Garden, a map of woody plants in the native plant collection and a Mamacoke Island Geology Tour Story Map by a Connecticut College professor. 

— Sarajane Sullivan

Wickham Park
Manchester

Wickham Park is a non-profit foundation with 280 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas and sports facilities. The park hosts events like a Spring Tree Tour and a Memorial Disc Golf Tournament. Other amenities include an aviary and a nature center/museum. Admission is $7 per car on weekdays and $9 per car on weekends and holidays. 

Open 9:30 a.m.-sunset daily from April through October at 1329 Middle Turnpike W., Manchester; 860-528-0856; wickhampark.org

Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford

Buddha statue, gardens and mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford on an autumn day.
Buddha statue, gardens and mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford on an autumn day.
Joe Amarante / Hearst Connecticut Media

This state park in Waterford covers 304 acres and includes a Eolia, 42-room seaside estate with formal gardens and greenhouses. The park hosts annual plant sales, lectures from horticulturalists, dinners and presentations on the lives of historic figures who once called Eolia home. The park requires parking fees on weekends from May through the beginning of September.

Open sunrise to sunset daily at 275 Great Neck Road, Waterford; 860-437-1523; information@harkness.org; Harkness.org

Hollister House Garden
Washington

Hollister House Garden in Washington is an American interpretation of a classic English garden, according to its website. The garden is open to visitors from April 22 through Oct. 8 and offers events like lessons on edible landscaping, yoga classes in the gardens, lunches and flower arranging classes. Admission is $5 per person.

Open 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday April 22 through Oct. 8 at 300 Nettleton Hollow Road Washington; 860-868-2200; hollisterhousegarden.org

Glebe House Museum and Gertrude Jekyll Gardens
Woodbury

The Gertrude Jekyll Gardens in Woodbury encompass the Glebe House Museum. The garden began in 1920 when English horticultural designer and writer Gertrude Jekyll was commissioned to create a garden to accompany the new museum. However, only some of the plans were implemented and the rest were forgotten until documents containing the full scope of Jekyll’s ideas were uncovered in the 1970s. Now the garden is in the process of being restored to its original plan. The garden offers events throughout the year, including summer camps for children.   

Open dawn through dusk daily at 49 Hollow Road, Woodbury; 203-263-2855; office@glebehousemuseum.org; glebehousemuseum.org