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Story and photographs by Christopher Gurshin
Hollister House
Hollister House

  In traveling the picturesque countryside of Litchfield County in northwest Connecticut, you’ll find a unique place in the town of Washington called the Hollister House Garden. The town was named in honor of George Washington who traveled the area during the Revolutionary War times. I hadn’t known of the Hollister House Garden, but my wife Janice had and was anxious to experience it, so we took a trip there and discovered this wonderful place on Nettleton Hollow Road. What began in 1979 by George Schoellkoph and what has resulted after thirty-five-plus years, are beautiful, rambling gardens with an English feel, designed with his own special vision to complement the 18th century saltbox home situated  on 25 acres. After a visit to England and seeing the classic gardens Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and Hidcote, the seeds began in his mind to create, in his own image, these special gardens for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.

Pool side
Poolside at the Hollister House Garden
Janice in the English Garden
The author's wife Janice
in the English Garden
   When we first opened the gate to enter, I couldn’t get over the size of the large elm tree so close to the front of the house and wondered that maybe even George Washington saw it when it was first planted. I always consider it special to see a mature old elm tree, as so many in New England have succumbed to the Dutch elm disease. I also noted a collection of old horseshoes hanging in the beams of a nearby barn as “found” reminders of the vast amount of digging that went on to create this special place. As we continued on, there were so many delightful areas to see. We walked along terraced gardens and pathways of old granite and cobblestones that were salvaged from Hartford as we listened to the peaceful sound of water trickling through the Sprain Brook. The variety of old granite stones, steps, pathways, and walkways along with the various heights and hedges created settings of “rooms” with a wide array of flowers and rare and natural plantings that blend together as a whole presentation to experience. Hollister House Garden
Hollister House Garden
Flowers Flowers
Flowers at the Hollister House Garden

The Hollister House is jointly owned by George Schoellkoph and Hollister House Garden, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, and education of the house and garden. If you like gardens, especially with an English flair and want to experience this national treasure take a trip to historic Washington, Connecticut or go online to to learn more of their special events and hours of operation. 

   Christopher Gurshin is a self-taught artist raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts where he developed a distinctive, well-recognized style of painting Old New England. He currently lives in Glastonbury, Connecticut with his wife, Janice. They reside in a 1740 cape next to the Old Cider Mill on Main Street. They welcome visitors and collectors to the gallery/ studio post-and-beam barn. Please call ahead before visiting. For more information , visit

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in A Primitive Place & Country Journal, a magazine that has become a leading national platform for period design. Each issue features five tours of primitive or colonial homes, along with recipes and craft tutorials. A Primitive Place & Country Journal can be found at Barnes and Noble bookstores or on the web at


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