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Sotterley Plantation in Winter

Updated on January 24, 2014

A December Walk Through Southern Maryland's Sotterley Plantation

Visitors may self tour Historic Sotterley Plantation's gardens and grounds year round. Admission is $3 per person.

A
44300 Sotterley Lane , Hollywood, MD 20636:
44300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD 20636, USA

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An outdoor tour may not seem like a good winter pastime at first glance, but the garden and grounds of Historic Sotterley Plantation have enough visual and historical interest to occupy even a chilly December afternoon.

The plantation, which overlooks the Patuxent River, is 300 years old. That's older than both Mount Vernon and Monticello!

Today, Sotterley consists of 95 acres of lovely rolling grounds with numerous interesting outbuildings, including a slave cabin. The plantation is also notable for its 18th-century plantation house and adjacent gardens.

The original house, built in 1703 by James Bowles, was comprised of only two rooms. The mansion today, which has 15 rooms, reached its current state during the 1800s and features a Chinese Chippendale staircase as well as alcoves shaped like shells in the drawing room.

It was also during the 19th century that the plantation became home to one of the largest communities of slaves in Southern Maryland.

Guided tours of the house are available from the first of May through the end of October, but the garden and grounds are open to visitors year round.

The gate at the back of the Sotterly Plantation manor house leads to its gardens, which are cared for by volunteers.
The gate at the back of the Sotterly Plantation manor house leads to its gardens, which are cared for by volunteers. | Source

Sotterley Plantation was first designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

The Patuxent River is visible from the plantation house & gardens of Sotterley.
The Patuxent River is visible from the plantation house & gardens of Sotterley. | Source

The Plantation in Winter

Even in winter, Sotterley's grounds are lovely and easily visible, almost in their entirety, from the manor house's vantage point.

The plantation home's long, narrow front porch overlooks sloping fields, verdant even in winter, that roll down to the Patuxent River.

Sotterley Gardens are at the back of the plantation house, and it is the house's rear and the garden gate that visitors first see when walking up the long gravel path from the public parking area.

A long, narrow porch fronts Sotterley Mansion, which overlooks the Patuxent River.
A long, narrow porch fronts Sotterley Mansion, which overlooks the Patuxent River. | Source

Like a beautiful face, a beautiful garden retains its grace and charm throughout the seasons.

A manor-shaped birdhouse fronts the low brick wall that separates Sotterly Garden from one of the lanes on the property.
A manor-shaped birdhouse fronts the low brick wall that separates Sotterly Garden from one of the lanes on the property. | Source

Sotterley Gardens

The gardens at Sotterley Plantation are beautiful even in winter, thanks in large part to the Sotterley Garden Guild.

A group of 40 volunteers, the guild meets at Sotterley nearly year round, every Wednesday and Saturday. It's goal? To maintain and improve the plantation's Colonial Revival gardens.

As any visitor can attest, the guild's efforts have been a resounding success. Sotterley's gardens feature many elements of interest even in December, including garden sculptures, a sundial, a birdhouse fashioned after the manor house and an English oak descended from those grown at the original Sotterley in England.

One of the flower beds in Sotterley's gardens.
One of the flower beds in Sotterley's gardens. | Source
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Greenery made by the Sotterley Garden Guild adorns the plantation's outbuildings and manor house in winter.This pretty gate leads to Sotterley's gardens.A side view of Sotterly Mansion from the garden.
Greenery made by the Sotterley Garden Guild adorns the plantation's outbuildings and manor house in winter.
Greenery made by the Sotterley Garden Guild adorns the plantation's outbuildings and manor house in winter. | Source
This pretty gate leads to Sotterley's gardens.
This pretty gate leads to Sotterley's gardens. | Source
A side view of Sotterly Mansion from the garden.
A side view of Sotterly Mansion from the garden. | Source
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The Sotterley Garden Guild

To generate money for the garden's maintenance, the Sotterley Garden Guild raises thousands of dollars annually through fundraising.

One of the guild's biggest money makers is its yearly Plant Sale and Free Plant Exchange. A real boon for plant lovers, the sale allows visitors to purchase plants that have been propagated from those grown at Sotterley. They can also bring plants from their own gardens and exchange them for plants that other gardeners have brought to the exchange.

To raise money for the gardens, the guild additionally sells handmade holiday greenery, examples of which may be seen adorning the Sotterley mansion as well as the plantation's outbuildings during the winter months.

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About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

© 2012 Jill Spencer

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    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      Sotterley Plantation is a great place to go if you like old houses and gardens! And if you haven't been down in a long time, you'll love what's been done at Historic St. Mary's City. It's really something else. Summerseat off 235 is nice, too, and Greenwell State Park has a cool old house and barns. And now there are all kinds of wineries, too, if you like that sort of thing. (I do!) Thanks for stopping by, Dolores. Take care. --Jill

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      We were just talking about going down to Southern Maryland, have not been for some time. And I love old house and gardens, so Sotterley looks like a perfect destination. Your pix are lovely. Voted up and tweeted!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Prasetio. It's great to be able to share in this way with people far away through HP. All the best! --Jill

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful place and I am glad to know this from you. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      Hey Randy! Nice to year from you & congratulations on your successful HP apprenticeship. We made it! (I almost didn't.) Hope your New Year is grand. --Jill

    • Randy M. profile image

      Randy McLaughlin 

      5 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Seems like a great place to visit. I really like the bird house and the fact that this is a site where there is a lot of community activity. Things that bring people together are great. And playing with plants and dirt is an earthy hobby. Nice article!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Happy New Year, Jill! I hope 2013 is a great year for you!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      The plant exchange really is a cool idea. I wish more organizations did it. Happy New Year, Kathy! --Jill

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This looks like an interesting place to visit. I'd love to be able to attend the Plant Exchange! Thanks for the tour.

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