Trade Secrets

Outsiders are "in," at Connecticut's exclusive plant show, which gives the public access to specialized dealers in plants and antiques.





Shoppers in the tents set up for Trade Secrets at Stone Lion farm


Launched by Bunny Williams 12 years ago when she had some excess plants to sell, Trade Secrets expanded into an elite annual garden sale. By 8 a.m. people who’d come from as far away as Toronto and Bucks County were lined up for the early bird admittance. Among them were Martha Stewart seeking costis at the Broken Arrow booth and Nancy Kissenger shopping for woodland azeleas. At past sales there has been rain and even snow, but this year was bright and mild, only photographers complained that the sunlight was too harsh.

Shoppers browsed through piles of linens at Marston House and admired the collection of antique lawn sprinklers at Dawn Hill. Hunter Bee sold a set of molded plastic French daisy petal chairs from the sixties, and people crowded the Privet House booth to see the merchandise, which inspired the boutique’s recent collection sold at Target. Harney Tea created a special "Trade Secrets" blend for the show and Michael Trapp's booth parted with an electric green beaded box from Sumatra and dozens of distinctive green and aqua pillows.



Garden-theme toys for youngsters


Carolyne Roehm made a point of stopping by the meticulously handcrafted-wooden furniture at Hoffman and Woodward. Her classic book Passion for Flowers was on sale at Johnnycake Books besides with a copy of Martha Stewart’s original Entertaining, – her “breakthrough book,” for $125. In the Opus booth nearby Martha was scolding herself for spending $500 on two trays of tiny plants.



Plants for sale at the Mid Summer Farm booth at Trade Secrets

In conflicting complaints shoppers wailed both that the prices were too high – and that everything was already sold! Money raised goes to Women’s Support Services which offers counseling and rescue to women in distress, the group originally designated 12 years ago by co-founder Naomi Blumenthal. Hundreds of volunteers manage the box office and truck purchases in garden carts to the delivery area.

Held in the beautiful setting of Lion Rock Farm in Sharon, the show is monikered “Trade Secrets” because it gives the public access to outlets normally limited to landscape designer professionals. Still carefully curated, the show is selectively exclusive according to its founder:   "This is the couture of plants," Bunny Williams explains.

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