Saturday, September 11, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm – Garden Conservancy Open Day in Little Compton, Rhode Island

Three beautiful gardens will be open for viewing in Little Compton, Rhode Island on Saturday, September 11, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.  For more information, log on to

The Atwater Garden (pictured below) is a country garden with the ocean glimmering in the distance, displaying the unique horticultural skills and knowledge of its owners.  Nate Atwater tends the vegetable garden and Berta Atwater, a judge of rhododendrons and Garden Club of America judge of horticulture, has designed and executed the other gardens, which are notable for their carefully pruned trees and shrubs.  Two rock gardens by Lloyd Lawton are surrounded by a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, ilex, hostas, dwarf conifers, grasses and Japanese maples.  The garden also contains rare plants not yet on the market.

Gioia Browne and Jim Marsh’s Garden, at 79 Peckham Road in Little Compton, features towering American elms and stonewalls framing the 17th century farmhouse on three acres.  The owners have enhanced the mature landscape by adding gardens and planting more than 150 trees and shrubs.  The woodland garden surrounding the 19th century barn is planted with ferns, jack-in-the-pulpits and hostas.  The enchanting summer house, used for tools and casual dining, overlooks the dianthus, gentians, ferns and dwarf conifers in the rock garden.  In the 75 foot perennial border, foxgloves, phlox, old roses, clematis, daylilies, dahlias, anemones, asters, and others bloom from May through November in shades of pink, purple, and blue.  Nearby are the shrub walk, hydrangea bed, and the geometric, cutting, and white gardens.

Sakonnet is an exotic cottage garden imbedded within a native coastal fields landscape. It is a long-term project of John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli, abetted by Addie Kurz (energetic sister), and Ed Bowen of nearby Opus Nursery. All are Rhode Islanders, with John (trained as a landscape architect and involved with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York), and Mikel with Façonnable in Nice. This garden began in the mid 1970s as a small clearing deep within a naturally grown tangle of local arrowwood and autumn olives. Now slightly larger than an acre, it is a whimsical series of spaces organically shaped within the thickets. Paths and walls were designed and thousands of rarely grown plants were added. Divided into a series of outdoor rooms, each space reflects ongoing experiments with lighting, space, color mixing, and growing rarely seen plants—many semi-hardy. High stone walls and hedges have enabled microclimate modifications that help exclude cold winds and create warm or cool pockets for growing Himalayan plants or southern plants like palmettos. One space, planted with soft yellows often seems to catch the sunlight on a gray, coastal Rhode Island day. A new Mughal treehouse is a centerpiece of “the tropics”. Sakonnet is an experiment in process to see what can be grown in coastal Rhode Island.  For a sneak peek, see

Admission to each participating private garden is $5 per person; children 12 and under are admitted free. Admission may be paid in cash or check. Tickets are not required to attend Open Days.

The Atwater Garden