Sotterley’s gardens beckon,
from venerable peonies and roses to cosmos and
flowering sage, and are a mecca for visitors of all
enthusiasts, photographers and artists, lovers of
nature and natural beauty.
Tending to Beauty
The Sotterley Garden Guild consists of
talented and dedicated volunteers, who nurture and
lovingly tend to the breathtaking Colonial Revival
Gardens. Every Wednesday and Saturday, whether
braving the extreme heat and humidity of a Maryland
summer’s day or bundled up with thermoses by their
sides in the bitter cold, they are here on site.
Thanks to the dedicated care of many volunteers,
Sotterley's gardens thrive.
Because of a passion for
beauty, their fundraising efforts have brought in
tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to their
annual Plant Sale
& Free Plant Exchange, they also create and sell
gorgeous greens during
Family Plantation Christmas.
Tradition of Peace & Beauty
The land along the Patuxent which we know as
Sotterley has been cultivated for centuries.
However, the gardens we know today date from the
early 20th century.
When wealthy New Yorkers
Herbert L. Satterlee and wife
Louisa, daughter of J. P. Morgan, purchased
a faded plantation in 1910, they found few clues
about the personal gardens of colonial or antebellum
predecessors except a few tool inventories and a
blush noisette rose. With the help of a landscape
architect, the Satterlees divided the area of land
just north of the manor house into geometric plots
and developed what is known as a Colonial Revival
garden for their pleasure and the pleasure of their
guests. They established perennial beds, a cutting
garden, a vegetable plot, and an herb garden. They
installed boxwood, rambling roses, and the large
peony hedge that continues to thrive along the north
border of the garden.
Mabel Satterlee Ingalls took possession of
Sotterley Plantation at mid-century. With attention
to even the smallest detail, she devoted herself to
the further development of these gardens. She added
coral bells, more roses, Persian lilacs, and bulbs
imported from the Netherlands. She entertained
frequently, and her guests were treated to
plantation-grown produce and a bounty of flowers
from the cutting garden.
Lacking Mrs. Ingalls’
attention and resources after her death, Sotterley
Plantation was placed on the list of Most Endangered
Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic
Preservation. These gardens, however, have remained
a constant, thanks to volunteers who banded together
to maintain Sotterley’s Colonial Revival heritage.
The gardens you see today at
Sotterley depend on
volunteers who are committed to the upkeep and
improvement of the gardens. These
volunteers work not only directly to maintain
the flower beds and other plantings but have also
been instrumental in repairing Sotterley’s sundial,
restoring a long-missing flagpole, a manor-shaped
bird house, and planting several pear trees and a
direct descendant of the English oaks grown at
Sotterley Hall in England.
Tickets & Admission
/ Hours of Operation
Map of Sotterley
General Visiting Information
Things to Do at Sotterley Plantation