Wethersfield welcomes Jeffrey Lynch

Jeffrey Lynch at Wethersfield.

Hillary Henderson

Wethersfield welcomes Jeffrey Lynch

AMENIA — Wethersfield Estate & Garden has announced the appointment of Jeffrey Lynch as its new head gardener.

His first day on the historic grounds will be Monday, March 18. Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, to a father who was “a big vegetable gardener, which was definitely an influence,” said Lynch, he has always had a deep love of the natural world.

After college, Lynch took part in the Professional Gardener Training Program at Longwood Gardens outside of Philadelphia.

“Back then, they would take 14 people for a two-year program, so it was very competitive to get in,” he said. “That was an intense two years. And then, actually, Longwood hired me when I got done with that program, so I stayed there. I was there for a total of 16 years.”

After his tenure at Longwood, Lynch went on to work on a very large, private garden project in Pawling. It was in Pawling that he heard about Wethersfield. “I just read about it,” he said. “It had limited hours that it was open, but I came up and saw it with some friends and it was just an incredibly magical place. Just phenomenal. It’s really a hidden gem.”

Lynch and his wife raised their family in Cornwall, Connecticut. “All three of my kids are graduates of Housy,” he said proudly. Lynch spent the next 10 years at Cobble Farm in South Kent, Connecticut, before moving back to the Philadelphia area to become the senior member of the horticultural team at Chanticleer Garden in 2014.

With expertise spanning various facets of horticulture, including ornamental and native plants, arboriculture, greenhouse management and organic farming, Lynch brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role at Wethersfield. He is also an accredited organic land care specialist and an advisor to the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Horticulture.

Wethersfield Estate & Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The founder of Wethersfield, Chauncey Stillman, wrote a letter to his family outlining the vision for the estate and gardens. He wrote, “My first desire for Wethersfield is that the whole place remain an unbuilt-over sanctuary or refuge for the animals and birds indigenous to the region.”

The Wethersfield Foundation has been carrying out his intentions to promote responsible land stewardship, habitat protection, sustainable farming and innovative horticulture, and to share the beauty of the property and classical gardens with the local community.

A 2023 Cultural Landscape Report on Wethersfield, conducted by Heritage Landscapes — with the generous support of The Garden Conservancy — stated that no other landscape in Dutchess County more defines the look and feel of this beautiful agrarian community than Wethersfield, whose historic and cultural significance is crucial for future generations.

“Chauncey Stillman was way ahead of his time,” said Lynch. “How he treated the land — he put it in a conservation easement ages ago just because he saw land being developed. He was doing that a lot earlier than most people. His conservation ethos is for present-day people, current, but he was way ahead of his time.”

As Lynch prepares to assume his role at Wethersfield, he acknowledges the challenges ahead, particularly in mitigating the impact of climate change and invasive species on the estate’s ecosystem.

“They’re having problems with certain tree species either because of climate change or invasive insects,” Lynch said.

Despite the challenges, Lynch is optimistic about the future of Wethersfield Estate & Garden and is eager to contribute his expertise toward its preservation and enhancement. “I always intended to retire in the area,” Lynch said. “I saw this opportunity, but then, you know, the cherry on top is getting me back to the area a little earlier.”

When asked what he’s looking forward to upon his return, Lynch said: “Just the natural beauty of the area. I’m a big hiker and biker. That’s really what I enjoy in the area. And also, the people. I think there’s a really good group of like-minded people that seem to be up in the Northwest Corner, Hudson Valley, Berkshires.”

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