Gardens

Welcome to Stanley-Whitman House garden, where you can experience the sights, fragrances, and tastes of early America. Gardens from two centuries allow you to examine and imagine the pleasures and challenges of English gardeners in the new world.

17TH-CENTURY ENGLISH SETTLER’S DISPLAY AREA

The two raised beds in the entry courtyard contain representative plants of Farmington’s earliest English settlers, who migrated here from Hartford beginning in 1640. The town was then know as “Tunxis Plantation,” named for the Native people who called this area home. Men cultivated primary crops along the fertile banks of the Farmington River, while women and children planted kitchen gardens close to their rudimentary homes. Those gardens contained plants cultivated from seeds and roots brought from England, as well as plants native to North America.

DYE BED & HOPS

The long narrow bed along the south side of the house contains plants used for dying fiber and cloth during the Colonial period. Thomas Smith, an English-trained weaver and the house’s first occupant, would have cultivated these plants near his home to use in his trade. Hops were grown near every home, to provide the ingredients for one of Early America’s most treasured beverages, beer. Until tea gained popularity in the early 18th century, settlers began their day with a mug of hearty homemade ale.

18TH-CENTURY DOORYARD GARDEN

The dooryard garden of the 1700s was an essentail component for the success of the largely self-sufficient Colonial household. This garden, along with agricultural fields along the Farmington River, was expected to provide many of the foods, seasonings, herbal medicines and dyes needed by the family.

A written guide to the plants in all these gardens is available at the museum, in both interior and exterior locations.

Stanley-Whitman House is a member of “Connecticut’s Historic Gardens,” a consortium of fifteen premiere historic gardens in the Nutmeg state. For more information, go to www.CTHistoricGardens.org.

The historic gardens are planned and maintained by the museum’s Dooryard Garden Society, a group of hale and hearty volunteers. For information about joining the group, please contact Lisa Johnson, Executive Director, at lisa@stanleywhitman.org.