The Gardens of the Dwight-Derby House

Preserving and restoring the historic elements of the of the Dwight-Derby House landscape vista has been just as important to the Friends of the Dwight-Derby House as the house itself. Timothy Dwight had a large apple orchard on his twelve acre lot that extended almost to Dale Street.

On our East side yard we have incorporated an apple orchard into our landscape plan.

Today, we have an apple tree standing in this location. In the spring, you can experience the sweet-smelling scent of apple blossoms just as Timothy did.

The Landscape Plan
This part of the landscape plan was implemented by the Garden Continuum in 2011. It was fully funded by Garden Continuum, Ideal Concret Block Company Inc., Lovell’s Nursery, Van Berkum Nursery and D. F. Sullivan Site Contracting.


Seasonal Flora at the Dwight-Derby House


Peony  Only two varieties of peonies are native to North America. Ornamental varieties were brought to America by European settlers and in the 1830s Chinese variety entered the United States. By the 1850s many peony varieties were being carelessly propagated and sold in American nurseries. In 1904 the American Peony Society was formed to protect the cultivation of the peony plant.

PeonyMedicinal: In the eastern and western worlds, peonies have a vast history.  They were first used medicinally in the Far East and Europe more than two thousand years ago. Many parts of the plant are claimed to have medicinal properties. A pain reliever can be made from the root of a bush peony such as this one.
Naming: The Greek God of medicine, Asclepius, became jealous of his student Paeon. In an effort to save him, Zeus turns him into a peony flower. In the Language of Flowers (Victorian- era naming for use in Tussie-Mussies), the peony is given the meaning of shame or bashfulness because mischievous nymphs are believed to hide amongst its petals.
Location: Located in the west garden to the left of the driveway in front of the apple tree.


Bleeding Hearts or Dutchman’s Breeches  Native herb to Eastern United States woodlands. There is a western variety with a courser appearance with white blossoms.

Bleeding HeartsMedicinal The Indians used this herb to treat skin conditions and as a blood purifier. It has many alkaloids that are believed to have effects on the brain and heart. It has edible tubers but it can be fatal to animals if ingested.
Naming: Named because of its resemblance to a heart or upside down pair of breeches. Little Blue Staggers is another common name for this plant because if eaten by cattle it could cause drunken staggering. It contains narcotic and toxic substances that are also in the poppy family.
Location: This blossom is a must see… located in front of the Apple tree in the west garden.

Japanese Lanterns  This plant belongs to the nightshade family.  It is native to Japan, Southern Asia to Southern Europe. Portions of this plant are poisonous, containing solanine.  This is a substance also found in tomato leaves and green potatoes. Ingesting the leaves or unripe berry of this plant can be fatal.

Japanese LanternMedicinal: There are many medicinal applications for this plant. It is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, leishmanicidal and a liver corrective. The fruit can also be used for kidney and bladder disease. In Chinese medicine the calyx (paper-like coating) and fruits are used for sore throats, coughs, fevers and eczema. Europeans infuse the juice of the ripe berries in wine and vodka to make a tincture to treat bladder infections. It has also been used to treat malaria, bed wetting and to promote early labor. It is currently being studied for anti-tumor properties. In witchcraft these plants were used in love spells because of its believed association with Venus. Sometimes this plant is referred to as “Love in a Cage.” As part of the Bon Festival in Japan the seeds are given to lead the souls of the deceased.
Naming: Because it looks similar to the Japanese paper lanterns.
Location: At the Dwight-Derby House this plant is located on the left side of the driveway in back of the apple tree.


Winterberry  Winterberry belongs to the holly family that is native to eastern North America and southeast Canada. The berries are a food source to forty eight different species of birds and many small mammals. The leaves and stems are known to be grazed by moose, cottontail rabbit, snow shoe hares and whitetail deer. Even though these plants are a good source of food for wildlife the fruit are poisonous to humans.

WinterberryMedicinal: The Indians used the berries for medicinall use.
Naming: Winterberry is named for its ability to hold onto its bright red berries through the winter. One of its other names is “Fever Bush” deriving from the medicinal use by Native Americans.
Location: There is a large row of Winterberry along the east side of the barn. It is quite a stunning sea of red during the winter. It is definitely worth a look.