In Our Own Backyard ~ A Daytripper's Adventure
Nature enthusiast and Landscape Designer Rose Young, highlights inexpensive daytrips into gardens and natural wonders at local New England State Parks, Land Trusts and Universities.
Let's take going green a little further . . .
Nature hotspots are closer than you think. Daytrippers will find beautiful locations that the whole family, even the dog will enjoy. Ask yourself, "How much time do you spend outside?" If you find yourself a little cramped up, maybe you have cabin fever.
It's time to get out and smell the fresh air and take an adventure. Not far, maybe it is just a little drive from where you live. Bring a friend, the dog, or your bike and discover what is lurking, 'In Our Own Backyard.'
Harkness State Park
Rt. 213, Waterford, CT
What more could you ask for... A huge mansion, formal gardens, great expansive lawns and views out to the Long Island Sound. Huge ancient trees, a bird sanctuary and trails galore adorn this amazing park. Numerous picnic tables with barbecues attract large family gatherings on the, 'never seem crowded' lawns. Kite flying expeditions are common on the weekends as everyone gets together to have fun.
on Long Island Sound
Here we are facing west towards the tidal channel and bird sanctuary. Due to nesting habitats, dogs are not allowed on this portion of the beach, yet they are allowed in many other areas.
The conservatory, in the Harkness Mansion, Eolia, is one of the many delightful rooms you can look into and admire. The ceiling and walls are handpainted in a lovely floral design. The mansion is rented out for functions regularly.
Formal Gardens - Hollyhocks in the foreground are accompanied by blue salvia, golden rubeckia, and numerous perennial and annual flowers. In the background is a ornate pergola supporting vines with quiet places to sit and breath in the beauty.
Blue Globe Thistle and White Asiatic Lilies
Many wonderful volunteers care for these gardens every year.
Clipped boxwood in a refreshed
formal terrace are steps down from the grand garden area. An ornate ironwork fence was just installed. The old grandeur is back.
This garden stair leads from the mansion and formal gardens down to the great lawn.
Below, the lawn, is a grand kite flying theatre in threes seasons. Kite flying enthusiast from around the country meet here at least once a year. I happened upon this event one weekend and was blown away by the size and design of some kites. There was a 20ft+ scuba diver flying 300ft or so overhead! It was spectacular!
See the associated kite flyer 'Link' on the left.
Many picnic tables and barbecue stalls edge this grand lawn. You can watch the ferries, cruise ships and even the occasional submarine will be seen coming and going from the mouth of New London's, Thames River .
This is the bridge that leads from the great lawn to the beach. Tall grasses surround you in softness as you head toward the view of Long Island Sound and the sand dunes.
The east end of the beautiful beach has what I call 'Mermaid' rocks that adorn the shore. At sunset you can imagine them here combing their long hair.
In the spring Harkness is a glorious place.
A huge field of daffodils and narcissus are at the base of a multi-stemmed 'family' of Purple Beech trees.
This Beech tree and field are in the center of a large paved track that joggers, roller bladers, young bicyclists, parents with strollers and the casual walker all use for excercise.
Dogs are often seen here on leash with their owners. I once saw a dog party where a certain single brand of Terriers all met with their owners.
Here is a tree climbing friend in the same Purple Beech.
Families galore enjoy this park. I've seen huge family gatherings from many ethinic backgrounds, grilling their own recipe of delicious foods. The smells are intoxicating as you pass by and see blankets sprawled on the lawn and many type of games being played.
This 'grande alee' of Horse Chestnut trees are on the west side of the park. Isn't this inviting? It is also near the field path to the bird sanctuary wetlands, where you can view the birds from a little hut.
In the gardens by the old Carriage House are several gorgeous, Japanese Threadleaf Maples weaving in and out, dancing in the sun. Isn't this unique?
A pet cemetary from days gone by has Annie, Peter, and Little Annie's names on the stones.
At all times of the year a little walk will clear your mind. Harkness is one of the best combinations of a daytrip - nature outing that you can have. Can you tell I love this place? I hope you find yourself there someday.
Your appreciation of nature, will help keep awareness and alertness of our partnership with nature alive. Happy Daytripping!!!