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Jillian Gardens, New Hartford – Open Day July 29 10:00 am until 4:00 pm

by on July 13, 2012

© Sharon Wilbur 2012

Vigues and Wilburs go way back, on the girls’ side waaaay back, to probably 50 years ago.  Our husbands met in the 70’s when Dwinal and I moved back home after returning from Texas at the end of Dwinal’s Air Force service.

After sitting and drawing garden plots over cups of coffee, learning about canning, preserving, raising animals, going “back to the land” as we called it, the guys became part of it, and became partners in business.

While we both still garden vegetables and Dwinal does some flowers, Bob and Jill have created a flower and plant garden paradise around their Town Line Road home.   

Following is just a tease, I’ll admit.  On the property there is a formal garden, with topiary trimmed evergreen plants and flowers, a Zen Garden complete with oriental framing, a bubbling urn and a Buddha.  You’ll find several small ponds and waterfalls, complete with water plants, and occasional bullfrog noises (those are real). 

Jillian Gardens has been in the making for quite a few years.  They moved in back in 1978, and probably started the following spring.   I believe the Wizard of Oz’s “Yellow Brick Road” was one of their first theme gardens.  You can see the yellow bricks to the right of the sign.  They amble around a group of plantings and artifacts reminiscent of the famous trip to Oz. 

At one point in the walk you actually see the talking tree’s face (an apple tree in the movie that throws apples), not shown here; you’ll have to visit on their open day.

© Sharon Wilbur 2012

I’m told that it’s a team effort.  Jill or Bob come up with an idea (the beach garden below was Jill’s idea) and they put it together.  Design and horticulture seem to come naturally to them.   This is not to make light of the amount of work they spend on the gardens every year.   One walk around the property will give you an appreciation for the amount of work put in to planting, weeding, mulching, edging, trimming, etc.

The new area is the beach garden.  It sports a Tiki Bar, complete with thatched roof, beach chairs, and misters that spray a fine mist to help keep you cool while you’re relaxing and digging your feet deep into the sand that was trucked in to an area that they dug out and rounded with rocks.  Rosa Rugosa and grasses are planted outside of the sand fence.  They play ocean sounds that would make you swear that waves were crashing in back of the fence. 

© Sharon Wilbur 2012

Bob & Jill are members of The Garden Conservancy which has since 1989 been recovering and preserving some of America’s most famous and beautiful gardens for enjoyment by the public.    A trip to their website (address below) will give you an idea how many gardens have been preserved and opened to the public. 

To encourage the public enjoyment of gardens, and raise funds for their work, they have a program called “Open Days,” where hundreds of members’ private gardens open their space to the public for a day. 

You can’t just  pop in on one of these marvels, you have to show up on the scheduled day.  Tickets are available at the Garden Conservancy website at, or can be purchased at the property the day of the event for $5 per person.  All proceeds go to the Garden Conservancy.  They are held rain or shine. 

The schedule of open days is at, and you’ll notice more than a couple of gardens in Connecticut are on the list. 

You’ll find Jillian Gardens of New Hartford at 70 Town Line Road, listed on Sunday, July 29.  The hours are 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.; tickets will be available on site.   Put this on your calendar and catch it while you can.

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