Grounds & Gardens
Mercy by the Sea is located on 33 acres on the shores of Long Island Sound. 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, planned along with kitchen staff
- The Sacred Heart of Jesus garden in the courtyard
- Memorial garden planted in honor of a former program director, Kathleen Brennan, outside of Shalom, and
- The garden labyrinth
Starting in the spring, a veritable kaleidoscope of flowering plants grace the grounds. From a profusion of 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 and 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 to 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:
- Removing invasive plants
- Planting the vegetable garden in spring and harvesting produce in summer and fall
- Restoring a secondary shell path off the labyrinth to the statue of Mary, where gifts, both hand-made and natural are often left as an offering to Our Lady.
They also care for the labyrinth garden. When the original boxwoods didn’t do well, small inkberry bushes replaced the boxwoods, which are a non-native species.
Mercy by the Sea is extremely appreciative of the volunteers’ care of the grounds and gardens.