The warm weather tempts the blossoms to emerge from hibernation and show their faces, bring brightness to the atmosphere and perfume the air with the unique, recognizable New England fragrance. There are many iconic parks and gardens in the greater Hartford area and other parts of Connecticut, both private and public, that give off the sense of an English garden. The area lives up to its name, echoing the seemingly uncultivated, natural profusion of gardens that are so visible in even the smallest of English dwellings.
Elizabeth Park Conservancy
1561 Asylum Ave.
Hartford, CT 06117
Elizabeth Park is a 102-acre city park located on the border of both Hartford and West Hartford, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A tranquil oasis on the fringes of a heavily populated urban area, it is a park of unparalleled beauty and whimsical imagination, comprised of duck ponds, featured with bridges, dotted with greenhouses, traversed by walking paths and spotted with picnic and play areas. The highlight is the gazebo and the iconic Rose Garden, the oldest municipal rose garden in the country with over 800 varieties. June is the best time to visit, but the blaze of color and subtle and spicy fragrances last well into August among the roses and wildflowers.
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The Dogwood Festival
Greenfield Hill Congregational Church
1045 Old Academy Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Dates: May 3-5, 2013
Spring is heralded in Connecticut with the blossoming of thousands of dogwoods. These grace gardens, highways and byways are celebrated and welcomed as the ushers of warmer weather. The Greenfield Hill Congregational Church has held its gala Dogwood Festival annually in May for 77 years. Its approach is transformed into an avenue of pink and white star-like blossoms. Starting on the designated weekend in May, events are kicked off with a luncheon on Friday, a barbecue and dance on Saturday evening, children’s crafts and games. Budding athletes can indulge in the Dogwood Dash, a two-mile fun run, and dashers between two and seven years will enjoy the Dogwood Mini-Dash. The Plant Tent offers a wide variety of incredible perennials, herbs, potted plants and hanging baskets for sale, along with gardening accessories for the ‘green thumb.’
Meriden Daffodil Festival
Meriden, CT 06451
Dates: April 27-28, 2013
An incredible 600,000 daffodils sport their glory every year to honor the annual Meriden Daffodil Festival. Connecticut’s most vibrant celebration of spring, in its 35th year, is held every April. The vista includes unending seas of fragrant yellow and white daffodils. The atmosphere is nature at her finest, announcing the end of winter, the start of spring and the anticipation of summer. Entertainment is laid on in the form of music, arts and crafts, food, fireworks and carnival rides for all ages. Highlights of the weekend’s festivities include a parade and continuous musical entertainment on three stages.
1329 W. Middle Turnpike
Manchester, CT 06040
The most unique feature of this beautiful park is its mosaic of different-themed smaller gardens embedded within its 250 ornamental acres. In spring, it is a horticultural voyage with variety, surprises and floral visions from around the world. Different areas are in bloom all season long. Lilac and cherry walks lead into the garden, meandering into the rose walk and the hydrangea corner. One thousand feet of hedges, hundreds of shrubs and roses and perennials round off the delights of this garden. The Oriental Garden has its eight acres decorated with oriental structures and statues. The Lotus Garden is centered around a fountain, a classical oriental pagoda and various unique structures at the north and south entrances, festooned by Japanese lanterns. The prime location of the Cabin Garden, commanding the zenith point of the park, its arbor and gazebo overlooking the spectacle of Hartford spread out below, makes it a scenic venue for celebrations. The Wetlands Garden is a newer addition to the park. Its natural, unmanicured acres are traversed by boardwalk trails, viewing benches, interpretive signage and native wetlands flora. The Rhododendron Garden, a later entrant to the family, is a visual feast each spring with its innumerable species of rhododendrons and azaleas. The Sensory Garden is the most unique area of Wickham Park. Inaugurated in June 2008, its six areas reflect the five basic human senses as well as a “sixth sense” of imagination.
Bina Joseph, a resident of Glastonbury, CT is a freelance writer covering all things travel-related in Connecticut. A passionate veteran of the travel industry, Bina has visited more than 40 countries, giving her a unique, global perspective. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.