In Elizabeth Park, Hartford, Connecticut can lay claim to one of the most historic and elegant public garden-scapes in the United States. It’s not called “The Flower of New England Parks” for nothing.
As a guest of ours at the Goodwin Hotel, you’re just a few miles from this remarkable greenspace. An afternoon amid its verdant beauty and tranquil atmosphere is just what the doctor ordered for a little calm and rejuvenation.
Elizabeth Park: One of Hartford’s Historic Gems
Established in 1897, Elizabeth Park encompasses 101 acres of spectacular formal gardens, greenhouses, vintage buildings, playgrounds, and ballfields. The grounds encompass the historic estate of Charles Pond, relics of which include the circa-1875-vintage Caretaker’s Cottage located in the Farmstead area. Noted Swiss-American landscape architect Theodore Wirth designed Elizabeth Park, the name of which honors Mr. Pond’s wife.
We’ve also got the Elizabeth Park Conservancy to thank for this historic landmark: This stewardship organization formed as the Friends of Elizabeth Park in 1977, when, faced with a shortage of funds necessary to manage the property, the City of Hartford was genuinely considering demolishing it.
Elizabeth Park Attractions
Amid the meticulous landscaping of Elizabeth Park, the Rose Garden serves as something of a centerpiece. Opened in 1904, it’s the oldest public rose garden in the country and one of the largest. From the flowerbeds of its foundational square to the semicircular North and South additions, the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden showcases 800 varieties and better than 15,000 rosebushes: arches of climbing roses, long-blooming shrub roses, modern hybrid tea roses, and more. Given the number and diversity, the garden’s rosebushes put on an extended bloom from late spring through fall.
Also here are the raised-bed rock plantings of the Shade Garden, the springtime pizzazz of the tulip beds, the panoramic views of the Sunrise Overlook (which encompass the Hartford skyline), the dreamy Laurel Pond, and many other lovely sections. Spare some time to appreciate Elizabeth’s Park grand old trees, too, which include both natives and rare exotics; many predate the establishment of the park.
The Pond House Café
If all that happy ambling and botanical appreciation have inspired an appetite, you needn’t leave the Elizabeth Park grounds to satisfy it: Head over to the Pond House Cafe, which sources many of its ingredients from its very own produce and herb garden.
There are few better ways to spend an afternoon in the Hartford area than by making a leisurely visit to the Elizabeth Garden. The interplay of foliage and flower, green lawn and shimmering waterway, stonework and greenhouse, has delighted parkgoers for more than a century—and let’s just say the appeal hasn’t dimmed one bit.