Art and Inspiration at Hollister House Garden

Painting by artist Agnes Wnuk. Photo credit: @aawnuk

Here in Washington, one of our “can’t miss” gems is Hollister House Garden. This American interpretation of a classic English garden was begun by George Schoellkopf in 1979. Hollister House Garden opened to the public in 2006 the same year it was designated a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy.

Today, the garden unfolds in successive layers of space and color with delightful informal vistas from one section to the next complete with a winding brook, a large pond, and an abundance of color in blooming flowers and plants. The walls, hedges and changes in level create a magnificent backdrop to the garden’s exuberant plantings. Hollister House Garden attracts gardeners and garden lovers from near and far. A program of classes attracts artists and photographers who are inspired by this breathtaking scenery.

Photo credit: @sandradesautels

We’d like to share what artist Agnes Wnuk had to say about her experience painting in Hollister House Garden during “Plein Air Painters and Photographers” sessions. Thank you Agnes for sharing your experience at Hollister House Garden with us!

What is the most inspiring part about Hollister House Garden?
The layout of Hollister House Garden is most inspiring. Its design forces you to move methodically from one area to another; from lawn to terrace; from sunny beds and borders to bowers; from formal to woodland in succession; with immaculately trimmed hedgerows, stone and brick wall enclosures momentarily hiding from view each forthcoming herbaceus and ligneous enchantment.

How long have you been visiting the garden?
I have had the pleasure of visiting the garden for several years but this is the first year that I come weekly to sketch. The venue tour has changed. One used to park at the top of the property and began with the shaded formal parterre, working one’s way either through the informal woodland area or the formal walled areas, finally giving way to open lawns and vistas across the river. This year one parks at the bottom of the grounds and is welcomed with the view of the open areas first; one moves from wide expanse to intimate enclosures. I am glad to have had the opportunity to sample both experiences, as they each engender a wholly different feeling.

Artist Agnes Wnuk’s sketchbooks. @aawnuk
Plein Air Painting session at Hollister House. @aawnuk

What is your favorite painting that you have completed while in the garden?
I relish sketching the different garden “rooms” in early morning light, each Wednesday, this summer. But frankly, sketching other artists who stand or sit patiently, capturing the beauty around them is a joy. It fascinates me to see what captivated them most, as I try to capture them, the garden around them and that one moment in time that we all share.

What would you say to anyone who has still yet to visit?
Regardless of distance, I would encourage anyone to travel to experience and enjoy the visit to Hollister House Garden. They will not be disappointed and will, I am sure, repeat the visit. This holds true for the artist in search of inspiration, the garden enthusiast or horticulturist as well as the casual tourist, as Hollister House Garden has something for anyone and everyone. The entire surrounding southern section of Litchfield county is worth exploring.

Hollister House Garden in the afternoon light.

Visiting Hours and Events:

New and returning visitors are welcome to stroll through and get inspired during our visiting hours: Wednesdays and Fridays 1-4pm and Saturdays 10-4pm. Take a look at special events happening in the coming weeks:

Plein Air Painters and Photographers sessions are held on Wednesdays from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. Please fill out and submit this contact form before coming and make a $5 donation at the garden.

Evening in the Garden will be held on Friday, September 4th from 5:00pm-7:00pm for a chance to enjoy the garden in the cool of the evening during these special open hours. Come see the garden in a different light! There is no admission charge but donations are always appreciated.

Smartphone Photography in the Garden workshop will be held on Friday, September 11th from 9:00am – 2:30pm. Spend a day with noted photographer Thad Kubis at Hollister House Garden and learn how to stop taking pictures and start creating images.  Registration is required.

Learn more:

For more about Hollister House Garden, go to: 

Read our interview with Hollister House founder George Schoelkopf