Wolcott Historical Society News - July 2020
By Florence Goodman
No matter your age, where you live, if you are working or retired, COVID-19 has changed your daily living routine in many ways. My routine/stress level has definitely changed each time I have had to leave my home, so I tend to stay in my safe zone. There are some pluses to this craziness, which we are presently experiencing; for me it is the extra time that I have been able to spend in my yard and gardens. This has been and always will be my peaceful and relaxing place no matter how strenuous the work may be. Whether you farm or garden for work or pleasure the rewards are many, as the fruits of your labor become a reality. What I have learned through my many years of gardening is that no matter how large or small your garden grows, it's your little paradise.
Every year on the Saturday after the 4th of July, The Wolcott Historical Society holds its annual Garden Tour and I'm happy to say this year is no different despite the circumstances. We will host our scholarship fundraising Garden Tour on Saturday, July 11th from noon to 4:00 p.m. (the rain date is always the next day). There is no better place than outside to social distance and several residents have graciously agreed to open their yards on that day. We ask that you bring a mask and wear it if for some reason you cannot social distance, but for the most part, I don't think that will not be an issue. We have five gardens that will be open on that day; four are regulars and one is a new addition for which I am very grateful! They are at the homes of: Kathy and Tom Sullivan, Ellen and Brett Muccino, Sarah and Mike Daley, Paula and Bill Ronalter and Flo and Terry Goodman.
In late May, I had the pleasure of visiting a new addition to my list of gardeners. I was invited to the yard and gardens of Sarah and Mike Daley on Potuccos Ring Road. They have been working on their beautiful backyard patio area and gardens for quite sometime and have used every inch of space to the utmost. As you walk through the gates on either side of their home to enter this area you will be amazed at what you will find. They have one side dedicated to the farm life with chickens, raised beds and a greenhouse, but the other side is all about enjoying life and relaxation. On the farm life side you will find a uniquely crafted chicken coop with five hens tucked nicely into one corner. These hens give them 5 fresh eggs daily at this time of year! You will also observe several raised beds with numerous vegetables and flowers growing. The small green house which has a rolled plastic covering is used in early spring to protect new plant material, but by the time we view it in July the covering will be gone and we will again observe many plants growing in another raised bed. The time and energy that has gone into this landscaping adventure is obvious and you will not be disappointed to view this beautiful backyard. There is also a front yard garden area that displays a variety of perennials for you to enjoy. Sarah and Mike have done a great job creating a unique yard and garden space that is a must to see!
Although the next four gardens on the tour are repeats you will be surprised at some of the changes that have taken place in each of these yards. For various reasons, gardens change from year to year; they grow and change in size as well as plant materials.
On a short drive down Woodtick Road from Frisbie School you will find the home and gardens of Paula and Bill Ronalter. It's exciting to view these gardens because Paula's creative ideas and use of unique plant materials will boggle your mind. Interesting antiques surrounding the property and beautiful containers with tropical plants add to her garden design. Although the property borders a busy road, tall shrubs provide a perfect barrier from the noise and allow you to enjoy these hidden treasures. The exterior of the old garage has been transformed into various gardens combining interesting antiques and plants. There are so many small, but uniquely designed gardens tucked into this property that you must walk slowly to enjoy it all. It's always fun to walk through this yard to see what's new and different. Paula's use of tropical plants in beautifully decorated pots just adds to this garden paradise.
Just off of Todd Road on Woodcrest Avenue you will find the beautiful gardens of Kathy and Tom Sullivan. As you enter this natural wonderland you are drawn into an array of colorful plant materials. Kathy and Tom have large areas filled with hydrangea, climbing hydrangea, lilies, ornamental grasses, daisies and other perennials vigorously blooming around you. They utilize shade perennials to their fullest extent and have also created various theme garden rooms that show off their garden creativity. As you gaze into these woodlands, you see a palette of muted colors, but the blue hydrangeas are outstanding. Their water garden is filled with lily pads and other aquatic plant material as well as colorful fish, which create a soothing atmosphere. They have also added some new features to their house and yard that bring out this beautiful garden wonderland even more.
Around the corner from the Sullivan's is the home of Ellen and Brett Muccino, which is located on Shelton Avenue. This road received its name from Shelton Hitchcock who owned a large parcel of land here and whose home was located on Meriden Road near the head of the lakes. Ellen and Brett's gardens are always a joy to visit because of the many creative gardening ideas and unique plant materials that are found throughout their property. Entering Ellen and Brett's yard you quickly realize that these gardens were created around an abundance of sun and the slope of the land, which has caused soil erosion, but they used this to their advantage by incorporating succulents with other perennials while utilizing river rock for drainage to solve the problem in a beautifully unique and creative way. One side of their backyard receives less sun allowing them to be creative with shade plants and shrubs as well as a great koi pond. They also have a outstanding vegetable garden filled with neatly planned raised-beds. You will not be disappointed as you stroll through the beautiful gardens that they have created.
The fifth garden that you will view on the tour is located on Peterson Lane. It is the historic Thomas house that is owned by Flo and Terry Goodman. James Thomas built this home circa 1776 and his son, Seth, the famous clockmaker, was born in the house in 1785 and lived there until 1807. As you drive down this quaint dead end road, you are greeted by stonewalls bordering the front yard gardens, which were designed to have perennials blooming from spring through summer. A variety of summer perennials such as daisies, coneflowers, day lilies, hosta, and liatris can be found throughout the property. The gardens have changed over the years and several gardens have been removed because upkeep has become a problem. As you stroll through these gracious gardens it is amazing to see so many flowers in bloom. The use of small stonewalls and paths in the garden areas help to accentuate them.
Don't forget to mark your calendar for the Wolcott Historical Society's Garden Tour on Saturday, July 11th from noon to 4:00 p.m. Tickets will be sold the day of the tour in the Center School History Museum parking lot from 11:45 to 2 p.m. or you may order them ahead of time by calling Flo Goodman at 203-879-9818.Last month's article about victory gardens was written with the sign of the times in mind. Although I could not specify where these gardens might have been planted in town, I failed to mention that many people who lived in rural areas usually planted family gardens. Since the establishment of the Farmingbury parish in the mid 1600s, settlers needed to till the soil to survive; thus farming has always been woven into our history. Ten years ago I wrote a series of articles about the forty plus early farms in our town and I thought it was time to revisit this topic.
Sarah and Mike Daley's beautiful backyard patio area.
These beautiful raised-beds are found at the home of Ellen and Brett Muccino.
The home where Seth Thomas was born and the gardens of Flo and Terry Goodman.
The unique garden art and tropical plants at the home of Paula and Bill Ronalter.
The creative use of machinery found in Kathy and Tom Sullivan's yard
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.