The seventh annual GardenFest at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme is a ten day celebration of the site’s historic gardens, featuring special events, displays, demonstrations, and family activities. From June 3 through 12, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities for all ages and interests. Most events are included with Museum admission. Children 12 and under are always free.
This year’s exhibition provides the perfect accompaniment to the Museum’s historic landscape, gardens, and the activities surrounding GardenFest. The Florence Griswold Museum is the only New England venue for the exhibition, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920. Organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Artist’s Garden tells the story of American Impressionists and the growing popularity of gardening as a leisure pursuit at the turn of the 20th century. After enjoying the exhibition, visitors can walk the Museum’s thirteen acres and through the restored 1910 garden. “Miss Florence’s” lovingly tended garden was a favorite subject for many of the artists of the Lyme Art Colony who stayed at her boardinghouse. One of the paintings on view in the exhibition, William Chadwick’s On the Piazza, ca. 1908 shows a female model posing on the side porch of the boardinghouse. A walk to the Lieutenant River provides further examples of vistas painted by the nature-loving artists.
A favorite event during GardenFest is Blooms with a View: A Display of Art & Flower. From June 10 through 12, visitors can enjoy a display of stunning arrangements created by 15 talented floral artists that interpret works of art in the special exhibitions, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement. These floral interpretations play off the colors, line, shapes, and subject matter of the artwork in masterful ways. Blooms with a View is included with Museum admission.
GardenFest includes a variety of activities for families. In addition to the weekly Discovery Sunday activities, when visitors are given supplies and invited to paint in the gardens or down by the river and then pick a project from the Art Cart for further fun and exploration, during GardenFest visitors of all ages can enjoy fun garden-themed events. On Saturday, June 11 from 11am-3pm have fun with everyone’s favorite faerie, Tinkerbell. Enjoy sweet treats and garden and flower-based crafts while awaiting Tink’s arrival at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm when she will share stories and song before posing for pictures. On Sunday, June 12, from 1 to 4pm, watch Connecticut Impressionist Dmitri Wright create an Impressionistic painting in the gardens of the Museum. Working “en plein air,” Wright will demonstrate the steps involved in going from blank canvas to a garden rendered in color and light. These events are included with Museum admission.
Other events include:
GardenFest Plant Sale
Friday, June 3, 9am-3pm and Saturday, June 4, 10am-2pm
Join the Museum’s Garden Gang for a sale of beautiful plants and garden specimens, featuring heirloom perennials, roses, herbs, and succulents.
Special Guest Appearance: The Importance of Bee-ing: The Value and Wonder of Bees
Friday, June 3, 10:30am-12pm
Kim Kester, 2016 Honey Queen
Come meet the Honey Queen at 10:30am; talk in Landscape Center at 11am
Cost to attend: Included with Museum admission
Kester was crowned in January by the American Beekeeping Federation and is traveling across the United States to share the value and wonder of bees and the importance of creating habitats that will nurture this vital component of a healthy planet. Come meet the Honey Queen and learn more about bees and beekeeping.
Presentations and Marketplace: Flowers, Fields, and Farmlands: Getting to Know Connecticut’s Historic Gardens
Saturday, June 4, 1-4pm
The Museum hosts the other 14 members of the Connecticut Historic Gardens to share the state’s historic garden resources with the public. Representatives from various institution host information tables to answer questions and distribute materials. Mark you calendars for the annual Historic Gardens’ open house day scheduled for Sunday, June 26, 2016.
Lecture: Producing Pictures without Brushes: American Artists and Their Gardens
Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historic American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Exhibition
Sunday, June 5, 2pm
$7 (members $5)
Join Marley, the curator of the original version of the exhibition, for a discussion of the role American artists played in both the stylistic development of this American version of Impressionism as well as their impact on the Garden Movement.
Hands-On Photography Workshop
Craig Norton, Photographer and Master Teaching Artist
Tuesday, June 7, 6pm-9pm
$12 (members $10)
Join photographer and master teaching artist Craig Norton for a digital camera photographic workshop focusing on the gardens. Working in the golden light of pre-twilight, participants will learn the basics for mastering images of the garden before taking their own images for constructive critiques. Come learn all your camera can do. Light refreshments included. Participants should bring their own digital camera.
Presentation: Herbs for Hearth and Health
Leslie Evans, Historian and Museum Director, Avery-Copp House Museum, Groton, CT
Wednesday, June 8, 10:30am-2:30pm; presentations at 11am and 1pm
Cost to attend: Included with Museum admission
Join historian Leslie Evans for a presentation on the historic importance of herbs in cooking and medicine as well as how they can be used today. Participants in the presentations will learn the historic uses for both common as well as lesser-known herbs before creating their own herbal vinegar and fragrant sachet. Herbal infused snacks and beverages will be available for tasting. Between presentations, Evans will be available to answer questions and offer additional information.
Lecture: Gardening with Kids: Opening Eyes and Doors
Karen Bussolini, Garden Coach, Writer, and Photographer
Thursday, June 9, 2pm
$7 (members $5)
Our yards – gardens, landscaping, and wild places – offer boundless opportunities for learning through the senses. At a time when so many children – and adults too – suffer from “nature deficit disorder,” obesity, ADHD, and other problems, connecting with nature is more important than ever. Typical suburban landscapes don’t supply the needs of either wildlife or children and can be downright toxic to both. In this talk Bussolini shows – and gets people to think about – easy ways to make the whole yard a safe place rich with sensory stimulation, with rich opportunities for imaginative play, discovery and just plain fun.
Garden lovers are invited to enjoy Café Flo Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11:30am-2:30pm and from 1-3:30pm on Sundays. Menu items are garden-fresh and family friendly. Dine on the veranda overlooking the Lieutenant River or pick up a basket and blanket and picnic along the river.
GardenFest celebrates the Museum’s historic gardens and orchard that are the subject of so many paintings by the Lyme Art Colony artists. Landscape Historian Sheila Wertheimer guided the Museum in the restoration of the gardens and site to its appearance circa 1910. Miss Florence’s garden can be characterized by what is referred to today as a “grandmother’s garden” in which masses of flowers were informally arranged in bordered beds close to home. Varieties of hollyhock, iris, foxglove, heliotrope, phlox, cranesbill, and day lilies were among the many perennials that made up her garden. The Museum is located on a 13-acre site in the historic village of Old Lyme at 96 Lyme Street, exit 70 off I-95. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 students, and free to children 12 and under. For more information, visit FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org or call 860-434-5542 x 111.
An additional garden event…
Connecticut’s Historic Gardens announces the twelfth annual Connecticut’s Historic Garden Day, Sunday, June 26. These fifteen delightful places, scattered throughout Connecticut, offer visitors an opportunity to explore many types of gardens while their historic homes further delight and educate. A variety of special events and activities are planned for the day. Hours, activities, and prices vary by location. At the Florence Griswold Museum, besides strolling the historic landscape and gardens, visitors are invited to pick up supplies to paint in Miss Florence’s garden or down by the Lieutenant River. The can also enjoy the Museum’s Art Cart, filled with outdoor activities that encourage exploration of the historic landscape. Outdoor activities are free from 12 to 4pm. Museum admission applies to House and Gallery, $10 adults, $9 seniors, $8 students and children 12 and under are free. The House and Gallery are open from 1 to 5pm.