Opened in 2005, Irwin Park is best described as a people sanctuary, with benches and chairs scattered among its vast lawns, fields and orchards. An environmentally friendly Flexi-pave trail, funded privately by the community, loops for almost a mile around the Park’s 36 acres offering a safe place for residents to walk, jog, ride bicycles, and even cross-country ski. The Great Lawn provides a wonderful place to simply relax – pack a picnic and sit among the thousands of daffodils added annually by the New Canaan Garden Club (NCGC). Dogs are welcome and must be leashed at all times. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk.
In 2019 the NCGC committed to a ‘Friends of Irwin’ fundraiser to complete the final loop of the Flexi-Pave trails creating a continuous path around the Park. The NCGC collaborates with the Park and Recreation Commission, the Office of Selectman and the Public Works crew on the maintenance and beautification of Irwin Park.
The NCGC manages ongoing conservation and beautification projects at the Park aided by a generous endowment from the Irwin family. As stewards of this varied habitat, we continue our efforts to sustain the rich biodiversity of Irwin by adding plantings and trees to help protect the environment and the endangered Monarch Butterfly. Irwin Park provides an opportunity for people of all ages in our community to connect with nature and enjoy the changing seasons.
Improvements and new projects have been undertaken using the endowment funds. New benches, chairs, picnic benches, a gazebo, thousands of daffodils on the great lawn and numerous trees have been planted to the delight of all who jog, ride bicycles, walk their dogs and stroll along the paths and on the Great Lawn beyond the apple orchard. Additional open space provides playing fields for sports on weekends and a special Children’s Mushroom Maze Garden is tucked in near the charming, old barn. Bluebird houses have been placed around the property throughout the meadows.
The NCGC has partnered with the Town of New Canaan to bring goats to Irwin Park to help eradicate the highly invasive Japanese knotweed. Nicknamed “Godzilla weed,” knotweed, with its deeply-penetrating rhizomes, is steadily overtaking sections of Irwin Park threatening native species and encroaching on the Flexi-pave path. As a greener and more environmentally friendly alternative to the use of herbicides, the NCGC has hired Green-Goats to rid the Park of this noxious weed. As the goats continually eat the plants, they weaken the root systems, ultimately killing the invasive plants.
The Gores Pavilion, which was the original pool house on the property, was designed by Landis Gores, one of the famed “Harvard Five” architects, has been independently restored by the New Canaan Historical Society. The Gores Pavilion provides exhibition space for photographers on a rotating basis and is open to visitors Friday through Sunday, May through October from 11:00-3:00 pm.