The property that TLF now calls home has had a long history rooted in agriculture and local commerce. This parcel was originally the farmstead of the Chittenden family and was used as pasture, farm and orchard in the early 1800’s. During the early part of the 1900’s it was referred to as “ Chittenden’s Landing ” and was a favorite summer destination for the renting of boats on Lake Quonnipaug. From the small boat shed, original to the property , cold beverages and snacks were sold to visitors by it’s owner of that time, “Winny” Winfred Chittenden . When the Chittenden property was offered for sale in the 1970’s, it was purchased and operated as “Hillside Christmas Tree Farm”. We purchased the property in 2003, making a lifelong dream to start a small organic farm a reality . The “Chittenden boat shed” was renovated in 2011 and is now used as our farm stand. We are proud to announce it was just recently designated as a building of historic significance by Historic Barns of Connecticut.
The landscape has been greatly transformed since our ownership in 2003. The first years were focused on the “bones” of the property: building of terraced stonewall perennial gardens, organically amending the soil , erecting deer fences, raising the green post & beam barn that serves as my floral design studio, construction of the garden shed, digging a new well………and the list goes on. Next, native trees, shrubs and flowers were planted to soften the hardscape, attract birds, butterflies and pollinators with the goal of creating an aesthetically pleasing as well as a diverse and sustainable environment for wildlife. Symmetrically arranged raised bed vegetable and herb gardens , cutting gardens and gourd and dahlia beds cover the majority of the remaining rural landscape. Each season offers a new and changing scene of colors and textures as new blossom , herb or vegetable takes center stage. My favorite time to visit Trout Lily Farm is in Autumn, when the gardens are offering a spectacular and bountiful display.
When the property was purchased in the late fall of 2003, not much was in bloom. The landscape at that time was mostly deer ravaged patches of poison ivy covered evergreen trees left over from it’s Christmas farm days and some meager foundation plantings. But come spring that following year, along the sloping terrain of the property that borders Lake Quonnipaug , were drifts and drifts of bright yellow Trout Lilies. The Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), also known as Adder’s Tongue and Dog Tooth Violet is a native spring flower. It’s foliage resembles the skin of a fish, the blossom’s stamens a venomous reptiles tongue and it’s corm that of a canine’s tooth!
Although the description of the plant is rather strange and sounds like an entry from a medieval Bestiary, the plant is a cheerful, ephemeral wildflower and a welcome harbinger of spring . It signals the beginning of the growing season here on TROUT LILY FARM.