Harriet Beecher Stowe believed in the restorative qualities of plants and flowers. She advocated healthful living, suggesting that household gardens and sunlight inside the home contributed to well-being. She also embraced naturopathy, an alternative medicine using plants as remedies.
Stowe created gardens at each of her homes, traded plants with friends and family, carefully transported seeds and cuttings from home to home and pressed blossoms into sketch books. In her final years, she could be seen gathering bouquets of wildflowers.
Her gardens inspired another of her interests. Stowe was a prolific painter and often led groups of like-minded Hartford artists in plein-air outings. Her floral paintings grace her Hartford home.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center sits in the middle of what was once Stowe's Nook Farm neighborhood.
The Stowe Center gardens are a combination of inspiration, interpretation and reproduction. Some of the plantings are historical and others are relatively new plants that we know or believe were here during Stowe's time.
Inspired by Stowe's love of plants and colors, offerings range from shade-loving perennials to colorful annuals, from single-color beds to a riot of shrubs and meadow flowers, from exotic elephant ears and castor bean plants to stately roses, and provide ever-blooming arrays from late May through September.
The gardens include Connecticut's largest Merrill magnolia and the Stowe Dogwood cornus florida rubra, a pink dogwood believed to be from Stowe's time.
The Stowe Center gardens and grounds are open for strolling. Please click here to download a self-guided garden tour. In season, Stowe House tours include the gardens and special garden tours are offered by reservation. Contact the Visitor Center Coordinator at 860.522.9258 ext 317 or e-mail for information about booking a special garden tour.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is part of Connecticut's Historic Gardens, a consortium of distinctive historic sites.