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In 1978, before I moved away to the craziness of New York, I was living in the little village of Coventry, Ct. As a poet, photographer and singer/songwriter, I have always drawn much of my inspiration from nature. I had visited Caprilands several times and been enchanted by the smells of all the herbs on the grounds and in the gift shops. One memory stands out in particular, which has since become a Proustian memory for me.
When the sun came out a day or two after the February Blizzard of 1978, I decided to cure my cabin fever with a long walk. I took my camera, put on my boots and winter layers and proceeded to walk from Coventry village up to Caprilands Farm. The bright winter sun was shining on the huge snowdrifts, creating those bluewhite shadows on the fields and in the woods. When I passed Caprilands, I realized I still had some of the little anise pastilles in a tin that I had purchased a week earlier on a visit there. I popped a couple of them in my mouth, and as the licorice flavor exploded in my head, the sights of the sun-filled snowy day and the subtle yet powerful taste of the anise pastille imprinted themselves in my brain. Now whenever I taste an anise pastille - or even think of that taste, my mind is flooded with wonderful memories of Caprilands, of my life back in 1978, of writing a ten minute song called "Bluewhite" about the snow in Connecticut hills (which I finally recorded thirty years later on my 2010 album "An American Record"). And I can see the stone walls of Caprilands, the barns, the gift shops, the herb gardens. the dining room with its Christmas tree adorned with fragrant herbal garlands. And I smell the overwhelming symphony of all the herbs. And I can see Adelma Grenier Simmons' smiling face, presiding over it all like a guardian angel. Thanks, Adelma - for your gift of Caprilands!
- Grayson Hugh, Danbury Ct.
Caprilands herb farm was a wondrful place to visit. My first experience with herbs came when I visited 30 years ago. and many of the herbs in my garden came from those gardens including the little bay tree I purchased from her. What a magical place indeed! I remember the teas I atended in the old house were always so much fun. The classes held by Adelma were wonderful as well. Her personal tours of the gardens were delightful. She had great storeies to tell and was always explaining about the wonderful herbal vinegars she made and hoped we would as well. WE purchased many of her books over the course of time and she signed all of them.
One year Margret Hamilton (the bad witch from the Wizzard of Oz) was Adelma's guest of honor. What a special day that was. All the girls who worked at the farm wore red and white striped stockings and big witch hats. My 2 neigbors and I brought our young children --1 boy and 2 girls. The girls wore witch hats as well. How happy we all were when Ms Hamilton allowed us to have them hotgraphed with her. It was such a fun day as we were fortunate enough to score tickets to the luncheon. Ms Hamilton presented a book to Ms. Simmons on the making of the Wizzard of Oz which had gone out of print. The entire atmosphere was directly out of the now popular Harry Potter!
Years later I found some pictures of the 3 children taken at Caprilands including the one of the 3 of them with Ms Hamilton. My husband and I made a special trip to Caprilands but the place was not the same as it was. We encountered Adelma sitting quietly indoors in a big chair. I was a bit startled as I did not realize at first that she was in the room. I then introduced myself to her and spoke about the times when I first visited the gardens, and my herb garden. She gave me wonderful advice on my lavender. At that time we spoke about the time Ms Hamilton visited and I then gave her a copy of the picture of the 3 children taken together with Ms Hamilton. I remember that she graciously accepted it saying she had remembered when they were there--- I think that they were actually the only 3 kids in attendance at the luncheon.
Time goes on. Now my neighbor just informed me that she read that the farm is no longer in operation--how sad for the old "goat" farm ----- Adelma would say that her family raised goats. I know that the farm had fallen on hard times but am sad to learn that it is no longer opened.
Are there any plans for the "foundation" to reopen it? The NY Botanical Gardens has a program this summer ----ends in October ---called the Edible Garden. They have vegetable, flower and herbal gardens and also have had cooking demonstrations all summer. One of the ones I attended was on herbs. It was informative and I was reminded of the Caprilands. Perhaps gardens such as these would be interested in Adelma and there might be people who could help. Are ther grants available?
If it is true that Cprilands is now closed, I hope that one day someone will have the vision and can secure the funds to redo the place> HMMM...an extreme redo----restoring the landscape and home---TV home/makeover garden crews where are you?
On May 27, 2008, LavendarLovage Bristol, CT wrote:
I'd always meant to visit and finally Memorial Day 2008, I made it.
A merchant at a local garden shop (Edmunson's) pointed me in the right direction with a warning that the place had fallen on hard times.
So glad I made the effort as my car wasn't working too well and I almost didn't bother.
Really, how many old farms can you roam around at will and enjoy a beautiful day in the country with no one bothering you and no pressure to hurry.
I took many photos and this is a place I can't recommend enough to the amatuer or pro photog. You just can't take a bad picture here, the compositions are out of this world.
As a passionate herbalist (a hobby), it was great fun to try and identify plants and wander about seeing where help was needed and where progress was underway.
I think it is harsh to be critical of this place in any way...after all, property is hard to maintain under the best of circumstances and it is in the natural life cycle for places to have times of neglect and deterioration and times of rising and peaking.
Even in dishevelment, Caprilands was a truly magical place that feels like coming home.
I spoke briefly to a guy there who seemed to be the proprietor, I guess he was pretty busy and gets asked a lot of dumb questions, so I didn't get to engage in real conversation about the place. I'd love to know more. I think there should be a "dish" where people could throw in a few dollars donation and some literature about ways to contribute. Maybe I missed this, as I never found the shop...I guess I got sidetracked.
Anyway, a wonderful place, don't hold its once glorious past or currently rambly personality against it.
We were camping in the Willington, CT area and decided to be typical tourists, gathering literature and visiting any place that sounded interesting. We actually hoped for a visit to a gift shop and a dinner at the restaurant. We were unaware of Adelma's dream and of her passing and felt sadness, yet a glimmer of hope for what some assistance there could do. I hope to dialogue with Dave about some ideas I have that might bring Caprilands back up to a busier level of function, yet retain the image created by Adelma. She did a lot of work there and invested herself in her dream. I can still sense her essence of positiveness and reaching out to help others through her gifts and her great love of what she was doing. We could have left the shop feeling discouraged...the supplies there have been somewhat depleted, yet we found some items that were new to us. We found some literature of the sort that I will treasure. We did not find an operating restaurant.
What was bustling a few years ago is somewhat dormant now as people put their lives back together and get a new start. A new start does not mean that Caprilands will be lost; instead, it means that if folks join together, Caprilands can be rejuvenated. Let's read what Adelma wrote, let's dream with them and be creative in our thinking. What they have there would be so difficult for most of us to re-create, but we can lend a hand in bringing Caprilands back. Adelma meant for it to last...let's help her...and Dave....let's help bring it back.
I'll be back here again soon with some suggestions, but I want to toss things around with Dave a bit before I post those.
It has been many years since I have visited Caprilands, but I still have the wonderful books and recipes Adelma provided me with, I wish to keep my good memories, therefore I dont think I will be visiting "the new Caprilands" although I know things must change. I wish you luck in renovation and all the success in running the "new Caprilands"
On Jul 31, 2006, pinkroses8852 Suffield, CT wrote:
As one of my favorite places on earth, I too have been loyally visiting Caprilandís, quite literally, every single year for OVER 25 years now. And like others, I have seen her in her prime and I have missed the wonderful, magical place that it was. These sad visits over the past decade or so have been much the same experience as the two most recent reviewers here. BUT this is by no means intended as a criticism. I have simply been waiting and hoping for this restoration that is obviously being carried out now and I could not be more delighted to hear of it. I am certain many, many others share this feeling of excitement. But it might just be missing the point to challenge whether this visitor actually drove an hour or less than an hour to see her. The point is, people still love Caprilandís, still remember her magic and people will still continue to come.
We are all rooting for her, you seeÖ
Have you thought of publicly appealing to people in an effort to recruit volunteers to help restore the gardens? For the many who remember, it would be a labor of love. And for those who have never met her, a magical learning experience.
On Jun 23, 2006, Snomittens West Greenwich, RI wrote:
My Mother and I have been wanting to go to Caprilands for some time now. I have seen photos of Caprilands in many of my herbal books. When we decided to go I went online to find out when they were open and what they had to offer. I found this comment section and read them. So today I went up there with an open mind not knowing what to expect. Yes, it is very obvious that there is a lot of work that needs to be done but there are only two of them doing it so it is slow going. They have had to get things settled financially first and now they are starting to concentrate on the gardens and getting things back to normal. The lady that we spoke with at great length was very helpful and knowledgeable. I will be going back to see their progress. It is well worth the trip.
I have dealt with the herb farm for about 25 years now and find it to be most exciting each time I visit. Adelma G. Simmons books are so informative and sweet. The oils are exceptional. Love this place.