By Madaline Sparks
Bromeliads dazzle at the booth of grower David Burdick's Daffodils and More. Photo: Stephanie Stanton Photography.
If you have never been to Trade Secrets
, the annual two-day garden event in the Litchfield Hills, really try to make a point to go this year. It is a Mecca for plant lovers and those who covet garden-themed antiques for inside and out. If you have been before, you know the beautiful Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, Conn., with its manicured gardens and panoramic views, is the site of the first day’s spectacular Rare Plant and Garden Antiques Sale, this year on Saturday, May 14.
On Sunday, May 15, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a self-guided tour of four spectacular and inspiring gardens in the area: the rarely visited home garden of Michael Trapp; Carolyne Roehm’s “Weatherstone;" the extensive plantings, farmland and barns at “Old Farm Nursery;" and Bunny Williams’ and husband John Rosselli’s exquisite garden.
I can’t believe it has been 15 years since I was fortunate to attend the very first Trade Secrets event at world-renowned interior designer, author and garden expert Bunny Williams’ home in Falls Village, Conn. My friend, Naomi Blumenthal, Bunny’s then-head gardener, was a volunteer for Women’s Support Services (WSS)
, a non-profit organization that offers free and confidential services to victims of domestic violence in northwest Connecticut, nearby Massachusetts and New York. Naomi and Bunny hatched an idea to sell overflow harvest from their greenhouse to raise money for WSS. They added a few antique dealers and local purveyors of plants and produce and Trade Secrets was born. It was a blast and it’s only gotten bigger and better from those early beginnings.
Mossy-surfaced terra cotta pots of all sizes are displayed at a Trade Secrets booth. Photo: Stephanie Stanton Photography.
Although it has evolved dramatically in scope and scale since 2000, one thing that hasn’t changed is the mission to support a great cause: a community free of domestic violence and abuse. Another is the sheer entertainment factor for anyone who loves all things gardening as much I do. Year after year, though I may not be shopping for a fountain for my estate or few-of-a–kind exotic plants for my sunroom, the treat of experiencing these items, all in one place, from dealers and growers from the entire Northeast is not to be matched. And whether you bring a truck to load up your finds or are shopping for a few unusual annuals for your pots on the porch, your garden senses will be tickled beyond your imagination. You'll leave with feelings of inspiration, aspiration and awe. And benefiting a good cause is the cherry on top. (And, by the way, the entire event is brilliantly and efficiently organized by an army of volunteers.)
At the Saturday event, Trade Secrets is hosting a special signing to celebrate three new gardening books: Outstanding American Gardens; A Celebration – 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy
edited by Page Dickey; At Home in the Garden
by Carolyne Roehm; and The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques
For first crack at anything truly rare or unique, take the early buying opportunity from 8-10 a.m. (including breakfast) for $125. Regular admission starts at 10 for $40, and latecomers get a discount from 1 p.m. on for $20.
Purchase admission at the ticket booth at the farm. Tickets for the garden tours ($70) may be purchased at the ticket booth at Lion Rock and at the gardens on Sunday.
Trade Secrets Rare Plant & Garden Antiques Sale
Saturday, May 14
Lion Rock Farm, Rt. 41 & Hosier Rd., Sharon, CT
Early Buying 8-10 a.m., $125 (with breakfast)
Regular admission 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $40; Latecomers discount from 1-3 p.m., $20
Extraordinary Garden Tours
Sunday, May 15
10 a.m.-4 p.m., $70