Welcome to Promisek garden

Garden tours to be offered Sunday in Bridgewater

When Promisek was established in 1978, its members knew it was something special.

The Catholic lay center at Three Rivers Farm in Bridgewater will welcome visitors Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. to tour the Beatrix Farrand Garden.

The garden was designed in 1921 by Farrand, a noted landscape architect, for Dr. Frederick Peterson.

The beds along the stone-walled perimeter contain perennials in pink, purple, white and blue, Farrand's signature colors.

The inside beds have roses in pinks and reds, lemon verbena and more.

Peterson imported species from his trips to Japan and China including Japanese lilac trees.

Farrand, a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, included touches similar to gardens she had designed at her aunt Edith Wharton's famous home, The Mount, in Lenox, Mass.

Sunday at 2 p.m., Colleen Plimpton will present a dramatic, 45-minute, first-person presentation about Farrand.

By the time Promisek had purchased the property in 1978, the walled garden was overgrown, but the hardscape remained. Volunteers cleared the growth, revealing flagstone pathways and stone walls.

In 1992, local garden historian Pamela Edwards researched and rediscovered Farrand's garden plan.

Today, a team of garden volunteers maintains the garden, making every effort to stick to the original plan.

"Pamela discovered us and, thanks to her, we discovered the jewel that we had," said Phyllis Beauvais, the Promisek president.

"When we got here in 1978, the garden was so overgrown and covered with wisteria that had engulfed everything, we literally used machetes to cut through."

Irene Sybailo is the head gardener at Promisek. With her staff of volunteers, she is continuing to refurbish and maintain the garden.

"We had a small garden, but didn't realize its historical value until Pamela," Beauvais added.

"Irene is an incredible treasure. She has taken ownership of the garden and, in return, it is giving back."

Skybailo noted "a lot of Farrand's gardens have been destroyed because they were private gardens.

Still remaining are Eolia in New London and Hill-Stead in Farmington.

Promisek at Three Rivers Farm, located at 694 Skyline Ridge Road in Bridgewater, will be open Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. for garden tours. Admission will be $5.