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Planting Fields Arboretum

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park is one of the most loved places on Long Islandís Gold Coast because it appeals to so many interests.  The 409 acres of woodlands, trails, rolling lawns and fields, and cultivated gardens provide a wonderful setting for the Tudor-Revival mansion Coe Hall, greenhouses, and other historic buildings.  The entire property is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts.

In truth, the mansion and the landscaping compete as equals for the visitorís applause, thanks to the vision of William Robertson Coe.  He bought the lands and the first house on the estate in 1913, and in 1918 began to build the present sixty-five-room mansion in a style of architecture reflecting what was popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1.  Outstanding craftsmanship and meticulous detailing can be seen in hand-carved chimneys, stonework, and woodwork.  The period rooms are fully restored and reflect a gilded age of grace and luxury.  Coe Hall is open for guided tours from April through September.  The tours run from noon until 3:30 P.M.  The fees for the tours are $5.00 for adults, $3.50 for seniors, children 7 to 12 are $1.00, and under 7 are free. For more information call 516-922-9210.

For the walker, 200 acres of historic landscape can be explored.  Designed by the Olmsted Brothers in the period from 1918-1944, the arboretum offers a spectacular display of trees and shrubs, many imported from abroad.  The sweeping lawns boast majestic beech and linden trees, as well as cedar, fir, elm, tulip, maple, holly, oak, and magnolia trees.  Beyond the lawns and formal gardens are native fields and forest, with laurel, rhododendron, and dogwood prominent along the drives and trails.

Specialized garden areas and shrub plantings, including rose, dwarf conifer, rhododendron, and synoptic gardens, and extensive annual, perennial, and bulb plantings provide inspiration and information for the gardener.  Then there is the magnificent Main Greenhouse for specialized collections and seasonal displays, such as poinsettias and Easter lilies.  The Camellia Greenhouse contains the largest collection of Camellia trees in the Northeast. 

There are many different ways to enjoy the Planting Fields, and the simple one of wandering at will across the lawns, through the gardens, and along 7 miles of woodland paths provide numerous options to explore.  Practically every area and season has something to offer.

Planting Fields is managed by the New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and is open every day of the year (except Christmas) from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  The greenhouses are open from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.  Admission to the grounds is $5.00 per car all year on weekends and holidays and on weekdays between May 1 and Labor Day.  Volunteer opportunities for both grounds and the museum are available.  To reach Planting Fields, turn north off Route 25A, on Wolver Hollow Road, following it until it ends at Chicken Valley Road.  Turn right and follow Chicken Valley Road for just over 2 miles and then turn right (shortly after you pass the magnificent Carshalton wrought-iron gates) on Planting Fields Road to the entrance.  Be sure to check out their website at www.plantingfields.org.

Hiking Long Island endorses buying a friend an annual membership as a lovely gift idea.

Short Nature Walks on Long Island revised and edited by Kenneth Kindler

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Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782
Ken@Hike-LI.com

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