Throughout the Mystic Seaport Museum’s 19 acres you will find a diverse collection of gardens, trees, and shrubs which are labeled indicating both the common and botanical name. Our gardens contain hundreds of different varieties of plants that accentuate the beauty and historical context of the Mystic River, ships, and 19th-century village.
The Museum’s gardens are educational tools used to create interest in plants and gardening. They are designed to motivate and excite visitors about horticultural history and our heritage as New England gardeners.
Mystic Seaport Museum has re-created two 19th-century gardens, the Burrows House garden and the Buckingham-Hall House garden, that portray the social order, economy, and cultural pursuits brought about by the Industrial Age. Most plants used are heirloom varieties, many of which are popular today. Additional gardens can be found throughout Museum grounds, including a Children’s Zoo garden featuring plants with fun names—like elephant ear plants—to appeal to future gardeners.
The pond next to the Museum’s North Parking Lot may not look special, but it is especially significant. During the redesign of its parking lots, Mystic Seaport redesigned the adjoining wetlands. Opposite the main entrance, a small tidal marsh was rebuilt with plantings native to Connecticut salt marshes. This freshwater pond covers part of the site of a pasture pond in Greenmanville. It has been reshaped and replanted with native species to filter the storm water that runs off the nearby mill roof and parking lot, delivering clean water to the Mystic River. From bacteria to birds, it has become a little preserve of local nature. In summer you may see a “fountain” in the pond, which is an aerator to ensure that the water is well oxygenated so the pond can perform its purifying function.