About Us

To download a copy of our latest brochure, click here.

Chelsea Botanical Gardens is a 501(c)(3) organization managed by a volunteer board of directors that meets monthly.

Currently, the Gardens consist of 80-acres of prime, native land in Norwich's historic 400-acre Mohegan Park. During the past several years numerous studies have been financed and completed: an archeological dig, environmental and transportation studies, marketing report and legal review, wetlands mapping, and flora/fauna survey.

The Master Plan of the Gardens, completed by Denig Design Associates, Inc., of Northampton, MA, will be developed in five major phases. It is estimated that the Gardens will take 20 years to construct, with various areas phased in as funding allows.

Drawings of Phase 1A, prepared by CLA Engineers, Inc., of Norwich, were accepted by the Gardens' board of directors and presented to the Norwich City Council in October 2010. Phase 1A will cost $18 million to $20 million. 

Funding for Phase 1A will be generated through grants, endowments, corporate and private donations, bonding, and fundraising events. As the permitting phase nears, an updated, more concise business plan will be developed. Phase 1A should be completed in 2 years.

The importance of Chelsea Gardens to Norwich and surrounding areas cannot be underestimated:
  • The direct economic impact for Phase 1A is estimated at $2.7 million annually with projected admissions of 175,000-200,000 during the first year.
  • Area restaurants, motels, and other service industries will be direct beneficiaries of the tourist influx.
  • Plantings, garden and construction supplies will be purchased from local businesses whenever possible.
  • Full-time and part-time help will be hired from within the community.
  • An international gardening school will provide myriad employment and educational opportunities.
  • The gardens will be compatible with the local climate and topography of the park.
  • Aesthetic value is vitally important in enhancing quality of life.

Board of Directors:
Hugh Schnip, President
Robert Reed, Past President
Brandon Hyde, Vice President
Peter Maneri, C.P.A. Treasurer
Laurie Eng, Secretary
John Bilda
Mary Edgar
Ben Lathrop
Jennifer Johnson
Kathryn Lord
Theodore Phillips II, Esq.
Linda Turner

Chelsea Gardens' Timeline

1993  *Chelsea Gardens Foundation incorporated by State of Connecticut
          *Board of Directors appointed by Norwich City Council
          *Bylaws adopted

1995   *Lease executed for 80 acres in Mohegan Park

1998   *Chelsea Gardens’ sign erected on Rockwell Street. This site will not be the entrance to the gardens; it was chosen for its proximity to the actual site and because of the volume of street traffic

2001   *Memorial and stock accounts established

2003   *City Council approved resolution to allocate $48,500 to Chelsea Gardens to be applied toward landscape architectural fees and administrative expenses

2004   *Technical tests/surveys nearing completion (archaeological dig, environmental analysis, legal review and research of 80 acres, marketing study, wetland identification and mapping, flora/fauna study, transportation study, topography mapping and site analysis report)

           *Web page designed and up

           *Six responses received from landscape and architectural firms in response to Chelsea Gardens’ Requests for Proposals

2005    *Chelsea Gardens’ Board of Directors selected Denig Design Associates of Northampton, MA, to prepare the master plan of the botanical gardens     

           *Funds of approximately $387,000 and over $150,000 worth of in-kind services or goods have been donated to date

2006    *Denig’s Design’s master plan presented to public at City Hall on January 25

                *Items removed from Masonic Temple and stored for future use in Chelsea Gardens’ buildings and landscape (with OK from Mohegan Tribe)

2007   *Chelsea Gardens sponsored booth at Connecticut Flower and Garden show in Hartford

          *Denig Design’s master plan for Chelsea Gardens earned merit award for landscape analysis and planning from Boston Society of Landscape Architects 

          *“Dream Vacation,” a fundraising raffle, held (through King Travel)

          *Contract signed with Chuck Carberry, former Executive Director Roger Williams Park Botanical Gardens and owner of a landscape design company in Rhode Island, for Feasibility Study and Business Plan

2008  *Business Plan received from Chuck Carberry

          *Rosemary Alexander, founder of the English Gardening School, spoke at Slater on invitation from Chelsea Gardens

          *First Annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

          *$40,000 awarded by Sachem Fund for civil engineering work by CLA Engineers

          *Paul Tukey, editor of People, Places & Plants magazine spoke at Slater on invitation from Chelsea Gardens

          *Rosemary Alexander provided inside and outside space dimensions for potential site of English Garden School on Chelsea Gardens’ site in Mohegan Park

2009  *Chelsea Gardens sponsored booth at Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford

          *Denig Design reconfigured master plan as per CLA’s findings

          *Second annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

          *Tours of 18-private gardens and Memorial Rose Garden fundraiser held

          *$35,000 awarded by Sachem Fund

2010   *Chelsea Gardens sponsored booth at Connecticut College Home Show

           *Third annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

           *Drawing of Phase IA plan adopted as prepared by CLA Engineers

2011   *$50,000 awarded by Sachem Fund to cover final cost architectural drawings

           *Fourth annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

2012   *Inland Wetlands Commission accepted CBG plans

           *New web site designed by Easy Web; up and running except for Donate Page

           *PKF to conduct market analysis

           *Fifth annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

2013   *Cost of Permitting Plans waved by city of Norwich

           *CBG joined Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT

           *Feasibility study for permanent butterfly pavilion done by Kallima Consultants

           *Sixth annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

2014   *Mission Statement rewritten

           *Seventh annual Butterfly Pavilion fundraiser held

           *Flowering spring bulb sale fundraiser held

2015    *Logging on six acres at Chelsea Garden’s site

            *Second annual flowering spring bulb sale fundraiser held

            *Garden plans presented to Norwich City Council

            *Rockwell sign replaced; fence repainted

            *Chelsea Gardens sponsored booth at the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce auto show at            Dodd Stadium

2016     *Third annual flowering spring bulb sale fundraiser held
              *Issues re: logging on six acres at Chelsea Gardens' site in Mohegan Park litigated and resolved

2017      *Part-time Director of Community Engagement hired for period of six months