Tucked away off State Street is Cider Hill Gardens. It’s easy to get to. Just hop onto State Street and when you get to the Y at Country Road continue straight up the hill on Hunt Road for about three minutes. It’ll be on the left and there’s a nice big sign to guide you.
- Beautiful display gardens
- Plants to purchase
- An art gallery
I drove up the winding dirt driveway and parked on the left. I was greeted by one of the owners, Sarah Milek, who provided me a map and told me more about the gardens and art gallery. Cider Hill Gardens specializes in hosta, day lilies, and peonies: providing the area with the most variety in the Upper Valley. People even come on bus tours to view the gardens. How lucky are we as locals to be able to view them for free. I couldn’t believe how vast and full of variety the property was and was excited to wander. I knew I was in for a visual treat.
Right as you arrive you are greeted by a beautiful shade garden. Tall plants sway in the breeze together: a mix of fuchsia and canary yellow. Low to the ground cobalt colored flowers dip to greet the ground. I can’t help but snap a picture.
I enter the art gallery and I’m greeted by soothing nature scenes. The painter is Gary Milek, who paints these realistic scenes throughout the year, inspired by his surroundings. He paints floral still-lifes and landscapes in egg tempera and gold leaf. As I look at the winter and summer scenes I am reminded at all that I love about the Upper Valley. He captures the simplicity in the beauty around us and encourages us also to pause and soak it in. Next time I’ll stay longer.
After visiting the gallery, my son and I started on the left and made our way to the beautiful hostas. Layers of green blanket the garden bed in all different shades. I was surprised at how a simple foliage plant could command such a striking presence.
As I continued along I stopped and admired the towering sunflowers. I don’t often see sunflowers, and certainly not that tall. They looked so happy bobbing in the breeze. I even saw a sculpture dedicated to the flower as well.
I felt like I was on a mini adventure exploring the unknown flora world. If you’re someone like me who doesn’t know plant names, you’ll be happy many are labeled. So now I’ll know that flower I always liked but couldn’t recall its name. The plants that aren’t labeled I’m sure the lovely owners would be happy to tell you.
As I wandered I continued to find unexpected treasures: a winding staircase, a quiet place to sit and admire, and a frog fountain. There was a hint of apple in the air as I walked, looking down I saw the gardens were surrounded by apple trees and already the apples were falling.
While walking I felt such peace. The owners, Sarah and Gary, really created a place of tranquility. What a wonderful gift to the public: to open their yard and talent for us to visit, admire, and purchase their products. They allow us to share in their slice of quiet paradise and encourage us to be inspired and take some plants home to make our own.
I hope you’ll go and explore the art and gardens too. I know I’ll be back to see the roses, ferns, peonies, and primroses I missed on my visit. They’re open May-November: Wednesday through Sunday, May-June; Thursday through Sunday, July-September; and Friday to Sunday, October and November. The gallery is open in the winter by appointment.