Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - July 2023

By Florence Goodman

In July of each year the Wolcott Historical Society holds its Annual Garden Tour. The funds raised from this event are used for our yearly scholarship which is given to a graduating senior from Wolcott High School. I always use my July article to share information about the gardens in the tour and add a history of the land on which these gardens are found. This year we have two new gardens on our tour and several that have been regulars.

The first new garden on the tour this year is at the home of Maureen and Jim Andrade located on Spindle Hill Road. They have been developing their gardens for several years now and I have enjoyed driving by and watching their progress. I recently visited the gardens and was surprised to see their beautiful backyard gardens of daisies, coneflowers, day lilies liatris and so much more. They use various size containers to display colorful annuals which are placed in and around their perennial gardens. They also have a wonderful, covered patio area and deck. The land in the back of their home is bordered by Alcott Brook and that adds an interesting feature to the property. Their home also has an interesting history because it was built by Marian and Howard Kraft who moved to Wolcott during the depression, but lived in the old Thomas house on Peterson Lane which at that time was part of the Peterson Dairy farm property. As times improved the Kraft's first built a small structure on Spindle Hill that today serves as a garage but was used as their small home. They lived there until they were able to build the cape where Maureen and Jim reside. This property is historically significant because it was part of Peterson's Dairy farm which was originally Alcott and later Upson property. Just down the road from the house is our Constitutional Oak tree which was planted in 1902 by Representative Evelyn Upson. These gardens and their history won't disappoint you.

Further down the street from the Andrade's house you will find Peterson Lane and my house and gardens. This property is where the historic Thomas house is located. 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, iris, day lilies, hosta, and the coral bells. The coral bells were original to the property and can be found throughout. These gardens have changed over the years and several gardens have been removed because upkeep has become a challenge, but a small raised-bed vegetable garden has been added in the center of one of the backyard gardens. There are also tall blueberry bushes that are under a framed structure that have been covered to keep the hungry birds away. It is fun to see so many flowers in bloom in everyone's gardens.

The third garden on the tour is another new garden and is located on lower part of Bound Line Road. It is at the home of Sharon and Bob Zabbara. They have been developing their gardens for at least ten years and they have turned their property into something wonderful! The backyard gardens were created around sun and shade. The slope of the land has allowed them to create a path bordered by lilies that leads up to their pool. You will find a variety of perennials such as roses, hydrangea, astilbe, spiderwort, lilies and much more, placed in ways that invite you to take your time and as you walk throughout these gardens. On the far side of the property large boulders are used as a property line garden. These boulders add a uniqueness to this garden and the plant materials love the heat that is generated from these rocks. Historically this property sits on the dividing line of what was originally Farmington, and Waterbury would have been on the south side of the road. Remember Farmingbury settlement received its name from these two towns. All you have to do is cross the street and you can hike on the Mill Pond trail that surrounds the Woodtick Reservoir.

The fourth garden on the tour is another one that you visited last year, but gardens are everchanging, so you are always in for surprises when you view them. Just off Todd Road on Woodcrest Avenue you will find the gardens of Jim Hackett. I think that Jim should be named "champion of garden containers." He uses huge pots to show off his unique tropical plants and large annuals grown from seed. These are placed along his house and driveway and welcome you into his perennial gardens. One can meander through his property and enjoy glorious statues and water gardens filled with beautifully colored coy and water lilies. Jim has also created a unique composting area that is hidden by thriving hydrangea and hosta; he utilizes his garden space to the fullest. You will marvel at the size of the plants that Jim grows in the beautiful containers around his yard.

Two houses down from Jim are the gardens of Kathy and Tom Sullivan who are also regulars on the tour, and I do appreciate these regulars who are always willing to help us out when gardens are needed. As you enter this natural wonderland you are drawn into an array of colorful plant materials surrounding their home. Kathy and Tom have large areas filled with hydrangea, climbing hydrangea, lilies, ornamental grasses, daisies and other perennials and interesting shrubs vigorously blooming around you. They utilize shade perennials to their fullest extent and have also created various shade gardens that show off their garden creativity. As you gaze into their 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. Over the last few years, the Sullivans have made some major changes to their front yard and the gardens bordering their side yard. These gardens are always changing and it's always fun walking through them not knowing what new plant materials and designs you will find. Both gardens found on Woodcrest Avenue are truly "paradise found" and you must walk through each yard slowly to appreciate all that they have to offer.

These last two gardens are not far from Tyrrell School and not far from the property that was once owned by the Tyrrell family. Eva M. Tyrrell was the town correspondent for the Waterbury Republican American newspaper for over fifty years and was a charter member of many civic organizations in our town and Tyrrell Middle School was named in her memory. She was born in 1884 and her roots go back to 1750, the year her ancestors, the Hall's settled in our town.

You will not be disappointed with this year's gardens! For a $10 donation you can meander through these five beautiful hidden treasures in our town. Mark your calendar for July 8th from noon to 4:00. Tickets will be sold the day of the tour at the Center School History Museum 154 Center Street from 11:45-2:00 P.M. To purchase tickets ahead of time call Flo Goodman at 203-879-9818.

Anyone that would like to tour our Stone Schoolhouse Museum or Center School History Museum, please email me at our wolcotthistory.org website and I will gladly open up the buildings for you.Last month at the Congregational Church's 250th celebration planning meeting I was asked about the history of stone chapel on Nichols Road. This month I will revisit the history of the old and new Woodtick Chapel, which today is part of the Charles Rietdyke Senior Center.

Andrade's home

One of the backyard gardens at Maureen and Jim Andrade's home.

Howard Kraft garage

The small garage that Howard Kraft built on the property at the Andrade's home.

Flo Goodman's home

A front garden at Flo Goodman's home.

Zabbara's home

A side garden at Sharron and Bob Zabbara's home.

Jim Hackett's home'

A water feature found at the home of Jim Hackett.

Sullivan's home

A new concolor fir tree planted in the front yard garden at Kathy and Tom Sullivan's home.

To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.

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