Planting Fields was the first up and the drive over from the hotel gave us our first dose of Long Island rush hour traffic. Originally I'm from the Boston area so I'm no stranger to traffic but after living in central Connecticut where my commute to work for the past 18 years has been on residential and secondary roads, I've become less immune and alot more impatient. Impatience can be a virtue but in traffic not so much. Don't get me started on the usefulness (or frequent lack thereof) of GPS or we'll be here all day.
Back to the regularly scheduled program...Planting Fields Arboretum is a former estate now an historic state park located on it's original 409 acres. A foundation established by the original owner, works in conjunction with the State of New York to manage all aspects of maintaining and staffing the property. Based on how clean and well manicured everything was, my guess is the foundation isn't hurting for cash.
|Coe Hall, a 65 room Tudor revival mansion at Planting Fields Arboretum|
The beautiful pool area was set in a sunken garden. On this warm, sunny day that water sure looked tempting. I wonder if anyone ever takes a dip?
Impeccably maintained and well designed raised perennial beds surrounded the pool. Formal gardens are not usually my style but everything about the pool design appealed to me.
Nepeta edges a walkway through a section of the rose garden.
A dead espaliered fruit tree being used as a creative natural garden sculpture.
For the tropicalesque afficionado, the main greenhouse was a sight to behold. One of my traveling companions, Kathy, has already written a blog post about the Planting Fields greenhouse HERE. She spent more time poking around and her pictures are infintely better than mine.
One of my friends took this picture of me in the main greenhouse. Do I look like Alice in Wonderland or what?
This well designed small shady space located right outside the greenhouse entrance made great use of foliage texture and color. Even with out the Fuchsias, it would be interesting all season.
Other areas surrounding the greenhouses were planted with interesting arrays of tropical foliage and annual color.
A Lantana standard...access to winter green house space can turn horticultural dreams into reality.
Finding food on the go for a dozen people on these trips can be a challenge. Usually we book hotels that offer free breakfast to save time in the morning and I must say the breakfast at The Hampton Inn was decent. We were disappointed to learn that the Cafe at Planting Fields (offering food advertised as homemade and gourmet) was not open during the week.
Meal skipping is not allowed on this trip so fortunately Westbury Gardens also had a cafe. More like a snack shack in a wooded setting, it was counter service and picnic tables. Food choices were limited and despite the light midweek crowd they were running out of items and seemed overwhelmed. Although I've had better, my lunch was good.
Westbury Gardens is listed on the National register of Historic Places is another well preserved former estate. In my quest to find out more than what was provided on the official website, I came across an excellent article on a travel site called The History Trekker. If you're nosy like me, check out the article
|Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens|
|View of the South Allee from the South Terrace of Westbury House|
Hey, I think I know these people!
Doesn't my friend Lisa look like she belongs here?
A former playhouse, this thatched roof cottage is now part of the children's garden. Usually a children's garden is no place for me but on this day the children were elsewhere.
On the day of our visit, legions of people were hanging these battery powered lanterns all throughout the garden in preparation for an upcoming evening event. Given the number of lanterns I saw, I'll bet the effect was pure enchantment.
My favorite part of Old Westbury was the Walled Garden. Brick and limestone walls, similiar to those used in the house, surround the garden which is divided into six large sections by walkways and planted in an English mixed border style.
At the time of our visit I was suprised to see Astilbe used as the predominant blooming plant in just about every bed in the Walled Garden. Don't get me wrong-I love Astilbe and the effect was absolutely gorgeous but in my garden Astilbe blooms for maybe a couple of weeks then over time the foliage dries up and goes to complete crap. I know there are many cultivars and some are more drought tolerant than others but before touring this garden I never looked at Astilbe as a front and center plant. My bad maybe.
The main focal point in the Walled Garden was this lotus pond and beautiful pergola structure.
I read that the balustrades were inspired by ones in the Boboli Garden in Florence. In 2004 I was lucky enough to visit the Boboli Gardens during a trip to Rome and Florence.
What a relief to see my friends had the good taste to match their outfits to the roses.
More amazing drifts of Astilbe. Honestly, I would love to see what this garden looks like in August. But Old Westbury wasn't the only garden we visited on this trip that relied heavily on Astilbe. Of all places, the High Line...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We finished garden touring with a little time to spare before dinner. Monique, our trip planner extraordinaire suggested a stop at Peconic River Herb Farm. An upside to driving to an IU is being able to shop without the dealing with the logistics of how to get your purchases home. Don't be fooled by the name. Peconic River is a fully stocked nursery-the plant selection was first rate-everything from trees and shrubs to perennials to annuals. I found a couple of plants I'd been looking for so naturally they came home with me.
|The Gift Barn at Peconic River Herb Farm|
No pictures but I want to give a shout out to the Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead for setting up and accomodating a dozen people for dinner on less than an hour notice. Fabulous food, quaint old building, riverside dining, BYOB...if I lived in the area this would be a frequent haunt.
What a day! Seven days down. Only three more days of this frivolity to go and I've already gotten my second wind.