Garden Guild

For many visitors, a stroll through the Historic Sotterley’s Colonial Revival Gardens is a stroll through time. The gardens, cared for by an extraordinary group of Garden Guild volunteers, are a tribute to the lives of those who came before. The dedicated volunteers who spend hours planting, mowing, trimming and weeding work throughout the year ensure visitors are still able to experience the tranquility and joy these spaces offer.


Historic Sotterley’s garden is thought to date back to the 18th Century. Just prior to the Civil War, Sotterley was a working plantation, a self-sufficient community which raised and preserved most of its own food including vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, and berries. After the Civil War, when the enslaved were freed, the Briscoe family no longer had the hands or the need to restore and maintain extensive pleasure gardens.


In the early 1900's Herbert L. Satterlee purchased Sotterley from the Briscoe family when it was in a state of physical and financial neglect, with few large trees and no gardens. With the help of experts and a landscape architect, a Colonial Revival Garden was created which included vegetable and herb gardens, fruit and nut trees and an array of flowering plant including lilacs, roses, phlox, chrysanthemums, poppies, columbines, bleeding heart, and portulaca.
Today, features of the garden include:
  • A central stone Venetian well, topped with a structure of filigreed wrought iron.
  • A large sundial, the base of which was a gift to Mr. Satterlee in about 1925.
  • A grape arbor with a stone bench beneath.
  • A small Children’s Garden tucked into the northeast corner.

Join the Garden Guild

The Garden Guild is a crucial part of Historic Sotterley. Their volunteer efforts, knowledge, and passion keeps our gardens beautiful for visitors year-round. If you enjoy being outdoors, learning about plants, and getting a little dirty, you can be a part of our Garden Guild, too! Just fill out the volunteer form below and we'll contact you with more information as soon as we can.