During the warmer months, you can enjoy the sight of lush greenery and colorful flowers blossoming in public gardens on Long Island. Whether on the grounds of former Gold Coast mansions or set across acres of carefully planted arbors, you and your friends or family can relax and stroll as you admire nature’s colorful creations. Here’s a sampling of gardens on Long Island.
Now a New York State park, the Bayard Cutting Arboretum was a former estate, created to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for those who delight in outdoor beauty. With acres of fir, pine and other trees, the arboretum boasts some of the largest trees of their species in the area. In spring and summer, wildflowers dot the green expanses crisscrossed by ponds and small streams.
In the manor house, the Hidden Oak Café, facing the Connetquot River, serves sandwiches. Or experience a traditional Victorian tea with mini sandwiches and freshly brewed tea.
When businessman Frank Bailey built a house on 43 acres in Lattingtown, he wanted it to be “a living, growing museum…of trees and shrubs,” and gave it the whimsical name “Munnysunk.” A self-taught horticulturist, Bailey grew native and non-native trees including the exotic Dawn Redwood. This species was rediscovered in China in the mid-20th century, long after experts thought it had gone extinct. Now listed as “critically endangered,” 20 of the seedlings Bailey obtained and planted still survive. One is thought to be the widest such tree on earth.
First opened to the general public in the spring of 2009, Bridge Gardens was created by gardeners Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens. Working for 20 years on the five-acre property, they created fantastic topiary, lavender beds, a garden maze, an herb garden, a hidden bamboo room and other lush delights. Now owned and operated by the Peconic Land Trust, Bridge Gardens is open to visitors from May 1 through September, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon-4 p.m. on Sundays. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the gardens have additional opening hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon-5 p.m. and on Fridays from noon until dusk.
Clark Botanic Garden opened in 1969 as a living museum and educational facility. Visit its 12 acres to stroll through collections including butterfly plants, medicinal plants, native wildflowers, roses, rock garden plants and more. The garden is known for its daylilies and is listed as an official Daylily Garden by the American Hemerocallis Society. There are only 325 such gardens listed in the United States.
Hofstra University doesn’t just grow a love of learning. On its 240-acre campus, there’s also an arboretum. Who knew? Over 12,000 trees representing over 600 species, stand tall at the university, and it’s open to the public. In addition, the Friends of Hofstra University Arboretum have turned two campus acres into a bird sanctuary.
Step into this tranquil space and you’ll leave behind any memories of traffic on Oyster Bay Road. Opened to the public in 1987, the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden was originally commissioned in 1960 by a former U.S. ambassador to Japan and his wife to remind them of the calm oasis they experienced when they lived in Japan. The four wooded acres are filled with deep green plants and trees, against a backdrop of white sand and gravel and dark-hued stones. With Buddhist and Shinto elements, the stroll garden includes an authentic Japanese tea house amid flourishing bamboo, evergreens and water elements.
Famed textile artist and collector Jack Lenor Larsen had LongHouse Reserve built to resemble a 17th-century Shinto shrine in Japan. With 16 acres, LongHouse Reserve’s mission is to blend art with nature, and this idea is reflected in the sculptures adorning the gardens.
Programs include Twilight Tours, Sound Meditation, changing art exhibits, poetry reading and more. Group tours for schoolchildren can be arranged
In 1919, industrialist and patron of the arts, Henry Clay Frick, gave his son, Childs Frick, and his bride, Frances, a wedding present in the form of a sprawling, 200-acre estate. Today that property, with its Georgian mansion and landscaped surroundings, is the home of the Nassau County Museum of Art.
When Mrs. Frick lived at the estate, she commissioned Marian Coffin to design the formal gardens. The original design’s walkways and shrubs still remain. Some of the other gardens have been partially restored and maintained.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Old Westbury Gardens was once the home of financier John S. Phipps and his family. The mansion is surrounded by 200 acres of formal gardens, woodlands and lakes. Stroll through the former estate to see rich greenery, fragrant flowers like roses and lilacs and a tranquil pond. In season, there are outdoor concerts. Throughout the year, there are adult and family programs.
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Also published on Medium.