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A Rare Look At A Private Sandy Hook Garden



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The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program opened its 2021 season earlier this month, and one local garden was among those participating in the first day of the national program.

Open Days provides opportunities to visit some of the country’s most exciting, creative, and innovative private gardens. Organizers have long said there is no better way to improve as a gardener than by experiencing a diverse range of gardens firsthand. Sandy Hook resident Jean Sander has welcomed that thinking by occasionally opening her gardens to the public through the Open Days program.

Despite high temperatures and humidity, Sander and her husband were greeted by dozens of visitors when they opened the gates to their property for four hours on June 5.

The couple lives in the historic Benjamin Curtiss House (circa 1748). The property now features an alpine/rock garden, garden structures and sculptures, and a woodland/shade garden, all created on the formerly barren property the Sanders purchased in 2002.

When ticket-holders first arrived on Saturday, Lincoln Sander welcomed them and began telling them about the antique trough that started the couple’s collection of animal feeders. He shared stories about its discovery and what went in to transporting the 3,000-pound stone piece to his home.

Leaving Lincoln to begin heading further into the property, visitors passed a barn that dates from the 19th Century. Rounding the corner from that building, most laughed in delight to discover an antique outhouse tucked among some trees.

“It’s a three-seater!” Lincoln called out repeatedly on Saturday.

Nearby, Jean Sander was between beautiful hedgerows, answering questions and pointing out flowering plants to others. Many gravitated toward the shaded path that meanders along the confluence of the Pootatuck River and Lake Zoar.

Visitors of all ages seemed to enjoy taking in the outbuildings, pathways, plants, and even the lush grasses they were allowed to view during the four-hour opportunity.

While the program was hosted by and generally benefits the Garden Conservancy, the Sanders had promised that partial proceeds from the day’s ticket sales will also benefit Newtown Historical Society.

Dozens of guests visited the gardens of Jean Sander in Sandy Hook within the first hour of the Garden Conservancy Open Days event opening at 10 am, June 5. The centerpiece of Sander’s troughery garden is a combination antique planter Sander has had for a few decades, coupled with a set of seven 19th Century stones that came from an estate in Maine. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Jean Sander listens to one of the visitors to her gardens on Saturday, June 5, when the property was open to the public for four hours. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Traditional cottage garden plantings, including foxglove digitalis, have regularly filled one section of Jean Sander’s English garden. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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