On Tuesday, May 22nd, the Sotterley Garden Guild was awarded a proclamation from the Historic Preservation Commission for preserving and maintaining the Colonial Revival Garden at Sotterley Plantation. Mr. Rob Gibbs nominated the Sotterley Garden Guild for this prestigious award, which was presented by the Board of County Commissioners.
Congratulations to the Sotterley Garden Guild! Sotterley's gardens are, without a doubt, magnificent and one of the main attractions here on site! All connected with Sotterley applaud you and are most grateful for each and every one of you!
The Colonial Revival Gardens - Past & Present
The land along the Patuxent which we know as Sotterley has been cultivated for centuries. However, the gardens we know today date from the early 20th century. When wealthy New Yorkers Herbert Satterlee and wife Louisa, daughter of J. P. Morgan, purchased a faded plantation in 1910, they found few clues about the personal gardens of colonial or antebellum predecessors except a few tool inventories and a blush noisette rose.
With the help of a landscape architect, the Satterlees divided the area of land just north of the manor house into geometric plots and developed what is known as a Colonial Revival garden for their pleasure and the pleasure of their guests. They established perennial beds, a cutting garden, a vegetable plot, and an herb garden. They installed boxwood, rambling roses, and the large peony hedge that continues to thrive along the north border of the garden.
Mabel Satterlee Ingalls took possession of Sotterley Plantation at mid-century. With attention to even the smallest detail, she devoted herself to the further development of these gardens. She added coral bells, more roses, Persian lilacs, and bulbs imported from the Netherlands. She entertained frequently, and her guests were treated to plantation-grown produce and a bounty of flowers from the cutting garden.
Lacking Mrs. Ingalls’ attention and resources after her death, Sotterley Plantation was placed on the list of Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These gardens, however, have remained a constant, thanks to volunteers who banded together to maintain Sotterley’s Colonial Revival heritage.
The gardens you see today at Sotterley depend on volunteers who are committed to the upkeep and improvement of the gardens. These volunteers work not only directly to maintain the flower beds and other plantings but have also been instrumental in repairing Sotterley’s sundial, restoring a long-missing flagpole, a manor-shaped bird house, and planting several pear trees and a direct descendant of the English oaks grown at Sotterley Hall in England.
Sotterley’s gardens still beckon, from venerable peonies and roses to cosmos and flowering sage, and remain a mecca for visitors of all kinds:
and for solitary wanderers.