About Cider Hill Gardens & Gallery

In 1974, Sarah and Gary Milek created a lifestyle around plants and fine art, inspired by the natural beauty of the woodland plants and wildflowers that surround them. They designed and constructed their home, the gardens, greenhouses, and art gallery on an abandoned apple orchard, that lends its name to the business. Together their vision is to delight your senses and increase your love of the whole earth’s garden. 

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The Horticulturist

Whenever my hands were in the dirt, gardening, I felt grounded and peaceful. I knew that gardening would be my goal in life
— Sarah

Sarah Milek attributes her passion for gardening to her family; growing up—when she wasn’t spending time in her family’s large vegtable garden—she would accompany her godmother on long walks in the woods. Her godmother would show her all the beautiful plants and each of their respective names. Even as a child, Sarah always knew her love for the outdoors would keep her there.

As the co-owner of Cider Hill Gardens, Sarah manages the greenhouses and display gardens. When designing her gardens, Sarah draws on her background in art and dance to lyrical floral displays throughout the grounds. A constant gatherer of herbs and perennial information, she is ever ready to share her passion and knowledge of gardening.

The Artist

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For Vermont Artist Gary Milek, painting has always been part of his life. As a child he knew that he wanted to be a professional artist. Born in 1941 into a farming family in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Gary has retained his farming roots and now resides in Windsor, Vermont with his wife, Sarah. Together, they own Cider Hill Gardens & Gallery.

At a young age, Gary began studying art at the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, and received an art scholarship to Syracuse University. He attended the Boston Museum School of Art and obtained a grant to study painting in Holland at Rijks Academy, at the famed Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the largest museum in the Netherlands. It was there that he became acquainted with the 15th century techniques of preparing gesso panels, egg tempera mediums, and guilding with gold leaf.

After two years of studying in Amsterdam and copying the works of the old master painters, Milek returned to New York City during the 1960's - a time when abstract art was at its peak and most artists were painting in imitation of the New York School. Influenced by these trends, he painted in oils in the expressionist style, but unfulfilled, he returned to nature for his inspiration and themes. It was at that point in his career that he chose egg tempera as his medium and moved to northern New England to paint his passion. 

Apple Trees & Stone Wall in Winter Egg Tempera, 12” x 20”

Unlike many of today's artists, Milek does not rely on photographs, preferring instead to work from sketches. He takes his drawing materials into the field, be it to their extensive flower and herb gardens at Cider Hill Gardens, or the old apple orchard on their property, surrounded by gnarled trees and dense woods, or to the pastoral landscapes that distinguish his work. He then paints watercolors based on the sketches, which are sometimes finished paintings in themselves. These "notes in watercolor", as he terms them, are the basis for later egg tempera paintings.

Gary Milek has lived his commitment, becoming a family supporting artist, and earning the respect of artists and collectors nationwide for his intimate and detailed landscapes in egg tempera, including the use of gold leaf, and watercolors of flowers.