Jun 7, 201106:39 PMLitchfield
Peony Heaven blooms at Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston
By Katherine Bucaccio
Jun 7, 2011 - 06:39 PM
The Annual Peony Festival at Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston is one of the best places for a summer outing in Litchfield County. Every week for six weeks, different varieties of peonies bloom on the seven-acre nursery, nicknamed Peony Heaven. Husband and wife David and Kasha Furman are behind the beautiful blossoms. They live on the premises, and have tended to the flowers for over twenty years. It all began in 1988, when David wanted to combine his interests in China and gardening by starting a peony nursery. However, with China’s trade restrictions, Chinese tree peonies were hard to come by. Furman found a seller who had one stipulation—that he buy at least two hundred plants. Furman took a chance and created an expansive peony garden in his own backyard. Son Dan Furman, who helps manage the business, says, “The hobby turned into a passion which turned into a livelihood.”
Cricket Hill Garden now houses 400 varieties of tree peonies. As these peonies bloom around mid-May, the flowers on display now are primarily the herbaceous and intersectional peonies. There are blossoms of every color, soft pinks and vibrant reds, delicate whites and cheery yellows. Charming Chinese parasols shade each plant, helping the blossoms to last longer. Throughout the garden, there are also eye-catching glass sculptures by Old Saybrook artist, Mundy Hepburn.
During the festival, which runs until mid-June, the garden can attract around 1,500 visitors on a busy weekend. The Furmans also sell container plants and merchandise at the nursery, which account for about 30% of their revenue. The remaining 70% comes from their online garden center, where visitors can purchase all three types of peonies in many colors and styles, along with gardening books and supplies. The garden has also hosted multiple events, such as a Wine, Jazz and Peonies fundraiser for Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association as well as one for the Thomaston Public Library. Cricket Hill will be open until June 19, with Late Bloomer week June 7-12. Especially warm springs have caused an early end to seasons past, so visit the garden soon for a chance to explore Peony Heaven. If you’re interested in learning more about peonies, the Furmans will be speaking at “The World of Peonies” slide show and talk at Savvy Tea in Madison, CT this Friday, June 10th from 6-8pm.
Cricket Hills Gardens is located at 670 Walnut Hill Road in Thomaston, CT 06787. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-4pm until June 19. For more info, visit their website or check out their blog for more peony photos.