Grounds & Gardens
Mercy by the Sea is located on 33 acres along the shore of Long Island Sound. Current Garden Projects can be found here. It has a small yet diverse ecology, ranging from wetlands and woodlands to landscaped grounds and gardens. There are many gardens on the property including:
- A perennial garden bursting with blooms near the greenhouse.
- An organic vegetable garden.
- The Sacred Heart of Jesus garden in the courtyard.
- A Memorial garden planted in honor of a former program director, Kathleen Brennan.
- The garden labyrinth.
Starting in the spring, a veritable kaleidoscope of flowering plants grace the grounds, including daffodils, irises, old garden roses and day lilies. The garden blooms join their wild sisters–the dandelion, mint, jack-in-the-pulpits, bluets, buttercups and beach roses.
The previous owner, W.T. Grant, loved trees and so the grounds are replete with flowering trees and bushes such as lilacs, mountain laurel and rhododendron as well as maples, oaks, copper and weeping beeches, as well as more exotic trees such as the laburnum or golden chain tree.
In 2012, Mercy by the Sea was accepted as an outreach project of the University of Connecticut (UConn) Master Gardener Program. That year, three volunteers put in a vegetable garden, much to the delight of the groundhogs who live on the grounds. The following year, funds were set aside for a fence, plants and mulch and the furry varmints had to forage elsewhere.
Every year, 12-15 interns rotate through the UConn program and, as part of their internship, they spend time at Mercy by the Sea, tending the various gardens. Most years, several stay on to continue gardening at the Center. They help with removing invasive plants, mulching, weeding, planting and harvesting and restoring a shell path to the statue of Mary. They also care for the labyrinth garden, replacing the non-native boxwoods with small inkberry bushes. Mercy by the Sea is extremely appreciative of our volunteers who care for the grounds and gardens.