Sakonnet is a secret garden embedded within a native coastal fields landscape. At the diminutive scale of a cottage garden, it is conceived as an intimate place to explore, with multiple paths leading one onward to unexpected experiences.


Sakonnet began in the mid 1970’s as a small clearing deep within a natural tangle of Autumn Olives, Oriental Bittersweet and local Arrowwood Viburnums. Now larger than an acre, its labyrinth of spaces are carved organically out of the original thicket. Each outdoor room reflects the owner’s ongoing experiments with lighting, space, color mixing, collecting and growing wonderful plants.


It is a long-term project of John Gwynne (JAG) and Mikel Folcarelli (MF), abetted by Addie Kurz (energetic sister) and Ed Bowen of nearby Opus Nursery. All are Rhode Islanders, with John, trained as a Landscape Architect and involved with global conservation education and local meadow restoration plus Mikel, a store design and brand identity consultant, increasingly involved in project management and house interiors.

Semi-hardy, zone 7 plants grow outdoors due to Gulf Stream proximity and high hedges and stone walls which we hand built to enable microclimate modifications. This is our personal and quixotic test garden. Thousands of rarely grown plants have been planted, moved, coddled or weeded out in the last 35 years.

Sakonnet is an experiment in process to see what we can grow in coastal Rhode Island. We began this website (4/2010) to start disseminating the firsthand information we’ve learned and to begin to open the garden to interested gardeners.    (MAP)

In 2015 we added the 1 acre Pollinator Plus garden to support insect populations.