Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, CT 06385
Best Mansion By The Sound
Formal gardens border the park’s Roman Renaissance mansion, both open for weekend tours. Cross the wide lawn to walk barefoot along the Long Island Sound surf.
Sure, the 230 seaside acres are magnificent, as is Eolia, the former summer mansion of philanthropists Edward and Mary Harkness. But the perennial borders, designed by famed landscape architect Beatrix Farrand (who was, by the way, the niece of novelist Edith Wharton) and full of vintage statuary, are what pull green thumbs away from their own beloved patches of earth. The lovely 1920s-era layout is one of just four Farrand gardens still in existence. Note the curving shapes of the flower beds and the soul-soothing colors, as well as the plants we think of as old fashioned: creamy yellow hollyhocks and spikes of blue veronica, rambling wisteria vines and sweet-scented heliotrope (Mrs. Harkness’s favorite).