UPDATE 8/29/13: Click here for some updated pictures and additional information about this location.
Every so often I stumble upon a place by such a ridiculous twist of fate that I marvel at how I might have otherwise gone on with my life in complete ignorance of its existence. Jessica’s Garden in Marlborough is one of those places.
A while back, I used an advertising insert from them as an available scrap to hastily jot down a phone number being rattled off on my answering machine. Then I pinned the flyer to my fridge and forgot all about it. Fast-forward to Mother’s Day 2011. My first Mother’s Day. My husband and I were trying to figure out something fun we could do that would be a treat for us, but also something that our then 9-month-old Boo would enjoy as well. And, most importantly, it had to be doable between morning and afternoon nap. Wait a minute, I thought, what’s this Jessica’s Garden place on my fridge? With the pond and the flowers and the lobster rolls? That’s right. Lobster rolls.
One visit and we were hooked. We couldn’t wait to go back (which, happily, we finally got to do a few weekends ago). Now, this might not be a place to spend an entire afternoon, but it is a great place to take your kids for a quick yet delicious lunch and maybe even cross a few items off your outdoor to do list. Here’s why we love it:
1. Fast ordering at the food shack window and then the delightful staff will bring your food out to you.
2. Hello! They have fresh lobster rolls. Served up hot or cold. Under twelve bucks. Enough said.
3. Picnic tables spread far apart means no worries that you’ll get the stink eye from the couple at the table next to you if your child is not on his/her best behavior.
4. Plenty of visual stimulation to entertain the little ones.
5. Lots of fun nooks and crannies for the older ones to explore.
6. One stop shopping for all your outdoor gardening needs (plants, shrubs, decor, even mulch).
7. Homemade ice cream from Robb’s Farm!
Most of these eclectic lawn decorations are for sale.
Boo was obsessed with this gazing ball. Seriously, he would not leave it alone no matter how far away we tried to um, relocate him. For a while there, we really thought we were going to have to buy it to avoid total meltdown!
The first time we visited, Boo was still happy to be rolled around in his stroller, which is entirely possible with a little elbow grease. However, the parking area is gravel and the picnic area is grass, so this probably isn’t a job for your $20 umbrella stroller unless your baby enjoys being rattled around like an astronaut during a shuttle launch (I learned that the hard way).
These days, Boo’s theme song is “Don’t Fence Me In.” This also applies to straps, belts, harnesses and anything else that comes with a buckle. So the stroller was out. Since Boo had already enjoyed his lunch at home, we hadn’t really thought much about how he would sit with us at the table. We ended up holding him half the time, and chasing after him the other half of the time. Fortunately, lobster rolls only require one free hand. In retrospect, I am thinking this might have been a good time to use one of those
hook on baby seats, like this one. We don’t actually have one, so I’m not entirely sure how (or if) they would fit on a picnic table, but if anyone wants to do a little reconnaissance and report back to us, that would be super.
After lunch, we strolled around the pond.
Then we all enjoyed poking around in the garden shop. Look at all these adorable plant holders!
I wanted to take this one home with me. How cute is it? Hubby, if you’re reading, I have a birthday coming up soon. Hint, hint.
Shortly after, Boo started showing signs that he was ready for a nap (hopefully one long enough that I could catch up on some TiVo viewing before all the season premieres start recording and wipe out my stash of “Gilmore Girls” reruns—best show ever), and we resisted the urge to get two more lobster rolls to go.
Once again, it was a lovely afternoon at Jessica’s (not-so-secret-anymore) Garden.
198 East Hampton Road, Marlborough, CT
Get directions here:
Starting in the spring, Jessica’s Garden is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. They do extend their garden center closing time during the summer and also stay open late with the Lobster & Ice Cream Shack. If you plan to go late, it’s probably best to call ahead and verify closing times. Jessica’s Garden closes for the season after Halloween.
Jessica’s Garden accepts the following major credit cards at the shop AND the shack: Visa, Master Card and Discover (no American Express).
There is a public restroom tucked away in the back of the garden shop, but it is very, shall we say, basic. By that I mean all the requisite plumbing appears to be there. Not much else. Be prepared to change your wee one elsewhere if necessary.
For more information about the garden shop and food shack, including a full menu, please visit http://jessicasgarden.net
A WORD TO THE WISE:
Jessica’s Garden is not, nor does it profess to be, a playground. Many of the lawn ornaments have sharp edges and/or rusted surfaces, and the stone figures are indeed made of stone. Meaning they are heavy. And sometimes easily tipped over. PLEASE, please be prepared to tail your child closely while letting him/her explore.
A stroller, baby carrier or hook on chair to keep your child safe and comfy while you eat.
Sunblock/hat for baby (Only a few tables are in the shade.)
Camera (You’re going to want to snap some pictures here, I guarantee it.)
A very lightweight stroller
A booster seat (Unless you have figured out how to safely strap it to a bench with no back.)