Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - July 2024

By Florence Goodman

My July article is used to share information about our Annual Garden Tour and a little history about the land on which these gardens are found. This year the Wolcott Historical Society will hold its tour on July 13th from noon to 4:00. The funds raised from this event are used for our yearly scholarship which is given to a graduating senior from Wolcott High School.  Five of the six gardens on the tour have not been viewed for several years so you will be able to see how they have grown and changed.

The gardens found at the home of Maureen and Jim Andrade are located on Spindle Hill Road. They were on the tour last year for the first time and they enjoyed it so much, they wanted to open their gardens again this year.  They have been developing their gardens for several years now and their hard work really shows. You will be in awe as you enter 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 originally 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 road from the Andrade's house you will find the home of Jill and Bill Dolan who live on Pembroke Hill Road. This development which is found off Long Meadow Drive was built in the early 2000's. The Dolans have developed their land and gardens into a tranquil place to relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. These gardens are best described as manicured and meticulous. Jill had a plan when these gardens were developed and it's obvious as you walk through the yard. Her use of ornamental grasses, day lilies, small shrubs, succulent ground coverings and so much more are perfectly placed to create beauty wherever you look. These colorful plant materials create a palate of greens, blues and yellows. The giant hosta used in her side gardens are exquisite. The backyard pool and patio area are so inviting you may not want to leave. The use of large, but perfectly shaped evergreens mingled with smaller evergreen shrubs creates privacy and beauty rolled into one. This land was probably part of Bill MacCormack's apple orchard. He had a cider mill that was located on the Mad River.

The next garden on the tour is located on Center Street and is at the home of Michele Pinette and Karen. These gardens are on the remains of an old farm, so the land has many large rocks jutting out.  It's great to see how they have built their gardens around these boulders or used them as borders. They have a variety of shade and sun plant materials, which include large hosta, astilbe, a variety of shrubs and day lilies.   There are also beautiful stonewalls bordering one side of the property and the backyard is fenced with a natural wood fence.  Their patio area has a pergola that is adorned with wisteria and many hanging baskets.  One end of the patio also includes a water feature while the other end has a cat hotel.   As you drive down the driveway you can't miss the fully enclosed raised bed vegetable garden, which is a great way to keep the creatures from eating your produce.  This yard and these gardens are a pleasure to meander through.

Another garden on the tour is found on County Road at the home of Shirley and Tony LoRusso. Shirley has been gardening for over 50 years and it shows.  She utilizes every bit of space on her property to create a palette of colorful beauty. The backyard gardens were created around an abundance of sun, shade and sloping land, but that has not stopped Shirley from filling it with plant materials that are a perfect fit. You will find a variety of perennials throughout her gardens.  She has roses, hydrangea, astilbe, spiderwort, lilies and so much more, placed in ways that invite you to take your time and "smell those roses".  You will love strolling through Shirley and Tony's beautiful yard and gardens.

Ellen and Brett Muccino's gardens which are located on Shelton Avenue have gone through some major changes over the past few years, especially the vegetable garden. These gardens are found in the southeast section of town better known as the Hitchcock Lake area. Their 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 beautiful and unique way. They also have an amazing, fenced vegetable garden and a new greenhouse.  You will not be disappointed when you view these wonderful gardens.

Last, but not least are the interesting gardens found on Todd Road at the home of Sandy Fitzgerald, not far from Tyrrell School and Garrigus Court. These gardens not only have beautiful plant materials, but some very creative garden features. You will also find lilies, iris and some evergreens shrubs throughout the yard.  Sandy's gardens also continue along her driveway to the front door with two large copper frogs climbing up the wall. A giant red hibiscus should be in full bloom, just in time for our tour.  As you enter her backyard gardens you will follow a path made of various shaped slate stone and under her new garden arch. There you will find hosta, ferns, hydrangeas and daylilies. Her backyard patio is a welcoming and relaxing area, which includes a water feature and several large garden ornaments.  Her use of raised beds in this area really adds to the beauty and is a great way to keep the weeds out.  There's a lot to see in this backyard paradise so you must walk slowly to enjoy it all. Look for the gecko tree that is also found in the backyard. This region of town is filled with a wealth of history. The Todd and Garrigus homesteads are just around the corner. Both families played an important role in the development of early mills in this region.

You will not be disappointed with this year's gardens! For a $10 donation you can meander through these six beautiful hidden treasures in our town. Mark your calendar for July 13th from noon to 4:00.  Tickets will be sold the day of the tour at the Center School History Museum at 154 Center Street from 11:45-2:00 P.M.  To purchase tickets ahead of time call Flo Goodman at 203-879-9818.

Maureen and Jim Andrade

The backyard garden found at Maureen and Jim Andrade on Spindle Hill Road.

Jill and Bill Dolan

Front walkway gardens at the home of Jill and Bill Dolan.

Michele Pinette and Karen's home

The backyard garden found at Michele Pinette and Karen's home.

Shirley and Tony LoRusso

One of the many hydrangeas found in Shirley and Tony LoRusso's backyard.

Ellen and Brett Muccino

The new greenhouse at the home of Ellen and Brett Muccino. Their fenced vegetable garden is next to it.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald's backyard patio garden.

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

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