Welcome to The Mark Twain House & Museum's

Gardens and Grounds

Founded in 1929 and operating as a public museum since 1974, the Mark Twain House & Museum celebrates the life and legacy of Samuel L. Clemens as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures. The museum serves the public by preserving the historic Mark Twain House which has been meticulously restored over a period of many years and is designated a National Historic Landmark. The Museum also offers exhibitions and numerous educational and cultural programs for students, teachers, and the public.

When the Clemens family lived here, there was a large greenhouse on the lawn between their house and the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Olivia Clemens loved having fresh flowers in the house and the family employed gardeners who tended to the greenhouse plants and the many gardens around the property. The first gardener who worked for the family was Daniel Molloy. Olivia gave Daniel a book called Practical Floriculture which still exists. Daniel marked up this book in ways that give us some evidence of what might have been planted. The second gardener was John O’Neill. John was particularly well known in Hartford for growing beautiful flowers.

Today, the Mark Twain House gardens and conservatory are under the watchful care of University of Connecticut Master Gardeners. For over a decade they have worked with the plantings and landscaping on the grounds, combining a staggering amount of horticultural skill with an artist’s eye, and creatively incorporating historical hints and tributes into their work.

We have eleven gardens on the Mark Twain House & Museum property. These gardens are in bloom spring to fall each year with various seasonal plants.

Learn More About Our Gardens

The Mark Twain House & Museum is located in the historic Nook Farm neighborhood.

Learn More About Our Grounds

Like many upper-class late Victorian homes‚ the Clemens home had a conservatory. Theirs had a fountain and was filled with lush‚ thriving plants. Clemens daughters Susy‚ Clara and Jean called this room “The Jungle.”

Learn More About Our Conservatory

Help us map the different microclimates here at the museum! Use your observational skills to check off every plant you see blooming in our gardens.

Try One of our Garden Scavenger Hunts

“Nature's attitude toward all life is profoundly vicious, treacherous and malignant.”

— Mark Twain's Notebook, No. 34

“The laws of Nature take precedence of all human laws. The purpose of all human laws is one — to defeat the laws of Nature.”

— Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol., Dictated June 18, 1906

The conservatory, gardens, and grounds at The Mark Twain House & Museum are cared for by a team of University of Connecticut Master Gardeners and skilled volunteers. They keep our landscape and conservatory looking its best all year round. We want to take this opportunity to thank them for all they do.

 

Thank you to our

2022 Gardens and Grounds volunteers: Christie, Cindy, Ed, Gail, Jill, and Susan

and our

2022 Conservatory volunteers: Helena, Larry, Marianne, and Mary

 

Looking to build community and help the environment? The Mark Twain House & Museum is offering a unique opportunity to volunteer your efforts at our historic garden. Whether you are looking for something to do in your spare time or to earn your Master Gardener hours, at the Mark Twain House you’ll be working alongside a friendly team of master gardeners to preserve the plant life around the museum.
No skills are needed! Just bring your passion and some jeans!

To volunteer or request more information, contact:

Grace Belanger, Assistant Manager of Historic Interpretation & Volunteer Coordinator at (860) 280-3130 or grace.belanger@marktwainhouse.org

It is strange and fine — Nature's lavish generosities to her creatures.”

— Following the Equator

“It was Maeterlinck who introduced me to the bee... I mean, in the psychical and in the poetic way. I had had a business introduction earlier.”

— Samuel Clemens, speaking of the author of The Life of the Bee, a book in the Museum's collection

Latest News

Connecticut’s Historic Gardens is pleased to announce artist Christopher Thelin of Farmington, CT as the winner of the 9th annual Historic Gardens Day Poster Art Contest.  “Stanley Whitman House” is a pen and watercolor depiction of the garden on the west side of the house. This contest gives local and regional artists a chance to showcase their talents while advertising CT Historic Gardens Day, an important, statewide event. The group began the contest to encourage Connecticut artists to visit and capture these historically significant homes with beautiful gardens. They hope that these sites will provide inspiring subjects for their art.

Visit the CT Historic Garden's Website