Having lived only a block from these famous gardens, I made a visit recently that took me back 70 years when I used to walk barefoot through this World’s Fair re-incarnated nursery exhibit.
Vernon Krider, founder of Krider Nurseries in Middlebury, brought his exhibit back home from the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair and had the forethought to re-construct it in 1935 directly across the road from his nursery business. At that time they were one of the largest employers in town and the reason Middlebury was able to secure one of the largest post offices of that time because of the volume of nursery stock that was shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.
Reconstructing the exhibit was not a simple task but one that took many, many days because of its grandiose and formal design. He wanted it to be a focal point for everyone visiting his nursery business and one that would give each person that wandered through it a sense of peace and amazement.
What made it so exciting back then were the unusual features throughout the stroll through the gardens. Every turn drew a new and unbelievable chill down the spine with little nooks of overhanging flowers or a secluded bench to rest.
As I recall, back then there were two large ponds, each had beautiful lilies with lily pads covering a good portion of the surface, but not enough to inhibit the excitement of watching the goldfish dashing about. Other pond plants enhanced the surface and perimeter with fountains spraying a constant and mesmerizing bounce off the water’s surface.
Inching one’s way along the formal design would bring sigh after sigh of the beauty. This was a showcase of everything the nursery had to offer and why it was so successful.
There was a large rose garden with all the favorites, as well as newer introductions of hybrid teas (the thornless red rose was their exclusive patent), perennials throughout including the latest developed varieties available, and an abundance of annuals to enhance every turn.