The CT Unit Herb Garden is located within Elizabeth Park, Hartford. The park is on the Register of Historical Places and houses the oldest municipal Rose Garden in the country. The park land was given to the City of Hartford by Charles Pond in the late nineteenth century at a time when there was little open space in Hartford for ordinary citizens. He and his wife were interested in gardens and he requested that any park be named for his wife, Elizabeth.
The park is open daily to the public, year round, and is maintained by the Elizabeth Park Conservancy and the City of Hartford.
The growing zone is probably zone 5, however, the garden is located in a micro-climate between two greenhouses which block it from severe winds. The beds are raised which enable them to warm up earlier in the season. The soil is relatively sandy and is amended from time to time with compost.
The garden is laid out with wide walkways and is casually divided into four quadrants for dye, fragrance, culinary and medicinal herbs. A Medlar tree anchors the culinary garden and Vitex shrubs provide structure for the medicinal and fragrance areas. Large Genista shrubs balance it out in the dye garden. A collection of Lavenders on either side connect the gardens. Much of the garden is carpeted with a variety of creeping Thymes. Two benches allow for respite and reflection. An iron ornament stands in the center of the walkway, and is believed to be one of the few remaining artifacts from the original mansion garden. Most recently, a granite based sundial was installed to honor our member, Betty Stevens for her many years of service to the CT Unit. A presentation was made to her at the 2014 CT Unit annual meeting.
The garden is maintained by able members who are required to volunteer at least one work session per growing season. The paths are maintained by park staff who also aid with any construction needs. Money is allotted in the regular yearly budget for replacement plants or other expenses. There is no paid personnel. The cleanup work usually begins in early April and continues to mid-October.
The garden was the dream of member Anne Pinto who grew up being carried through the park by her father. She became the founding president of the Friends of Elizabeth Park. Her dream of an Herb Garden in the park became a reality in 1998. It was developed jointly by the CT Unit and park staff, who constructed the raised beds and laid granite block edging. It was named the Anne Pinto Memorial Garden when Anne passed away shortly after its completion. It was designed by member Betty Cleghorn and park supervisor, Paul Condon and many of the original plantings remain in the garden though many others have been replaced or refurbished. In 2014, a team of members researched the plants and updated or replaced all labeling. In 2015, the Unit will re-launch a series of public garden talks to be held informally in the garden monthly. The CT Unit holds its Symposium yearly at the Pond House, a meeting facility and restaurant which is located within the park. Many concerts and other cultural programs are held in the park as well as seasonally spectacular floral display gardens and is highlighted in June during Rose Weekend. The CT Unit Herb Garden is visited by many people each year due to these events as well as those who come just to walk among the herbs and gain knowledge and information from members during work sessions.