Trade Secrets: The Garden Season’s Big Kickoff May 14 & 15
Posted by: Dan Shaw
Posted on: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Trade Secrets is the Rodeo Drive, meets Worth Avenue, meets Madison Ave and 57th Street of the plant/garden decoration world. It is One Stop Garden Shopping at its Best. There are things priced for everyone’s pocket book ($5. to maybe $5,000.) How Lucky to have the Best of the Best come to North West Connecticut for this Special Event and Worthy Cause.
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One of the reasons why Trade Secrets, the massive rare plant and garden antiques sale on May 14, is such an enchanting event is its setting: Lion Rock Farm, a 600 acre property on the Salisbury/Sharon, CT, border with breathtaking views of rolling hills and the Taconic range. Owner Elaine La Roche, who cultivates 200 acres of corn, oats and soybeans, does not consider it a big deal to have 60 vendors under tents (and surrounding her indoor pool) nor clearing fields so that more than 1,000 shoppers have a convenient place to park. Indeed, she makes sure that Lion Rock Farm is meticulously groomed for the fundraiser that benefits Women’s Support Services, a regional non-profit organization that offers free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence in northwest Connecticut as well as nearby New York and Massachusetts.
“It’s important to give back to your community,” says La Roche (photo right, with friend Pete Hathaway), an investment banker who was the first CEO of the China International Capital Corporation when she lived in China as a Morgan Stanley partner. A weekend resident of Litchfield County since the 1980s, she became involved in Trade Secrets initially as a vendor, offering Chinese antiques from Passports, the store she opened in Salisbury in the late 1990s. “While I was in China, everyone was getting rid of their antiques and replacing them with furniture from Ikea,” she says, laughing. “I would go shopping and sent home a few containers and that is how Passports was born.” Over the years, Passports has expanded to included silk clothing, gifts and fresh water pearls. “Our pearls are really unique and affordable.” she says. “You can buy them at the store, online or at trunk shows.”
For the first time, there will be an authors table near the Johnnycake Books booth where you can buy books and have them signed by the authors.
Florence de Dampierre Wall: The Best of Decorative Treatments
Page Dickey Embroidered Ground: Revisiting the Garden
Sidney Eddison Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older
Jane Garmey Private Gardens of Connecticut
Annie Kelly Litchfield Style: Classic Country Houses of Connecticut
Carolyne Roehm A Passion for Interiors and A Passion for Blue
Matthew Patrick Smyth Living Traditions: Interiors by Matthew Patrick Smyth
Bunny Williams An Affair with A House, Point of View and Bunny Williams’ Scrapbook for Living
La Roche takes farming very seriously, and she is especially proud that Lion Rock produces dry shelled corn that can be used for fuel instead of wood pellets. “It burns cleaner and hotter than wood and leaves no ash,” she says. “McEnroe’s uses it to heat its greenhouses.” LaRoche is famous locally for putting her money where her mouth is, buying up local independent pharmacies that were in danger of being bought out by CVS or Rite Aide. “At one time I owned five, and now I just have two—the Canaan Apothecary and the Salisbury Pharmacy.” She allows that she subsidizes these businesses because she believes that they are vital to small town life. “I wish more people would invest locally, especially part-time residents,” she says. “It doesn’t take zillions to have a big impact in our towns.”
And while she is the putative host of Trade Secrets, she says it’s the all-volunteer effort that makes it such a profitable fundraiser and effective community-building event. Of course, she will be pitching in at the Passports booth as she has for the past eleven years. Doesn’t she mind the wear and tear that her property takes from all the trucks and visitors? “This is a farm,” she says bluntly. “It’s actually great incentive every year for us to have everything looking its best by Trade Secrets weekend.”
Trade Secrets at Lion Rock Farm - May 14
Early Buying: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Admission: $100
Regular Buying 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Admission: $35
Trade Secrets Garden Tours - May 15
You can pick up a Garden Tour Map at our information booth on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at LionRock Farm, Route 41 and Hosier Road, Sharon, CT. The booth will open at 9am on Sunday. All gardens are self-guided tours. One ticket entitles you to tour all 5 gardens on the tour. Tickets can be purchased at any of the gardens:
Cobble Pond Farm - Sharon, CT
The Hodgson Garden - Holabird House ~ Falls Village, CT
The Miller Garden - Sharon, CT
Old Farm Nursery - Lakeville, CT
Bunny Williams - Falls Village, CT
The Sun Shined for Trade Secrets’ 10th Anniversary, May 15, 2010
Trade Secrets: The Ultimate Outdoor Shopping Party, May 16, 2009
Trade Secrets: Martha Stewart Makes the Scene, May 17, 2008