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CAPRILANDS: The Memory Won't Die
   by Janice Gurshin


Adelma Simmons
Adelma Grenier Simmons
December 16, 1903
- December 3, 1997

 

  Have you ever heard of a place called Caprilands, a herb farm located in Coventry, CT? The Hartford Courant ran a story about it in August, a sad story indeed. Years ago, Caprilands was THE place to visit and to enjoy the most perfect herb gardens, listen to wonderful lectures and have the most delicious luncheon made entirely with the herbs and flowers from the farm in the owner's 18th century farmhouse.

Caprilands
Photo: Hartford Courant

   The owner, Adelma Grenier Simmons, was quite a character, but widely known as the "first lady" of herbs that brought many stars and tourists to the 69 acre piece of property. She's written more than 40 books and pamphlets. She always wore a cap and a cape and tons of articles were written about her and she appeared many times on national television. I visited there many times and I can't tell you just how beautiful and unique the place was.

Caprlands
Photo: Hartford Courant
Caprilands
Photo: Hartford Courant
Caprilands
Photo: Hartford Courant

Caprilands
Photo: Hartford Courant

   Well, Adelma passed away at 93 in 1997, and unfortunately, Caprilands has suffered decades of decline due to being stuck in probate court limbo. Visiting it today would break your heart if you had ever had the pleasure of visiting it in it's heyday. Her third and final husband, a chemistry professor at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, desperately wants to restore the property. He's worked hard for years trying to create the Caprilands Institute to continue the legacy but because of the probate problems has been prevented from doing anything.

   Adelma's funeral was also featured in the Hartford Courant. Interestingly enough, her body was placed in a horse drawn carriage for her trip through the streets of Hartford!

Editor’s Note:

   Janice Gurshin’s email intrigued me to the point where I felt I had to know more about Caprilands, which I’d never heard of before. If you Google “Caprilands,” the first thing that comes up is an internet warp, an undated About.com New England Travel feature that calls Caprilands ”a marvelous place to shop, to stroll among the herb gardens.”  The article raves about the Gift Barn, Greenhouse Conservatory and Dried Flower Shop and reports that they are open “10 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round.” Below this is posted an article that appeared in the Hartford Courant on August 17, 2014,”The Spirit of Coventry’s Caprilands Still Alive.”  As I dug deeper into the myriad of memories people have posted online about their experiences at Caprilands I was impressed with the vehemence of many people’s feelings about the place, how it needs to be brought back to its former majesty. The website for the CaprilandsInstitue says “As Caprilands transitions toward complete non-profit, only our gardens are open presently,” which seems to infer that things are in the works, that Caprilands can, and most likely will, rise again.


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