Long Island Parks: Planting Fields Arboretum
Round Pool at the Planting Fields Foundation
Planting Fields Arboretum
P.O. Box 58
Oyster Bay, NY 11771
Phone: (516) 922-9200
Overview: Everyone can enjoy the former Gold Coast estate of the W.R. Coe family that has over 400 acres (c. 1.6 square kilometers) of rolling lawns, gardens, woodlands, and nature walks. The Camellia Greenhouse displays the largest collection of camellias in the northeast, and the Main Greenhouse has extensive collections of hibiscus, orchids, succulents, and seasonal displays. Coe Hall is the Tudor Revival residence of the Coe family and is open for guided tours from April to September. Guests sample the formal lifestyle of the 1920s and see stunning craftsmanship and impressive collections of furnishings, paintings, stained glass, and decorative arts. In addition to the mansion, visitors will experience a wide variety of gardens, specimen plantings, and charming outbuildings that make Planting Fields truly unique.
The arboretum is a lifetime gift for people who enjoy nature and who wish to research all that goes on in the physiology of plant phyla. Professional landscape artists program fresh planting, nurseries and cultivation so thoroughly that the grounds of the Park are a visual delight and heady experience almost throughout the year. The cavernous collection of both historic and conventional species is a taxonomist’s delight. The Park also offers a pleasant and desirable option for events normally held in tiresome and impersonal interiors. Events especially weddings and exhibitions of splendid flowers proceed with the enthusiasm of just-born butterflies, while classes for people eager to learn about the Plant Kingdom hum with practiced efficiency in the background.
History: The name “Planting Fields” originally came from the Matinecock Indians who cultivated the rich soil in the clearings high above Long Island Sound. The present-day property on the popular Gold Coast of Long Island began between 1904 and 1912, when Helen MacGregor Byrne, wife of New York City lawyer James Byrne who’d bought six properties collectively referred to as “Upper Planting Fields Farm”. It was also once home of William Robertson Coe, insurance and railroad executive, and his wife Mary “Mai” Huttleston Coe, the youngest daughter of millionaire industrialist Henry H. Rogers, who had been a principal of Standard Oil. Two gigantic beeches, with root balls thirty feet (nine meters) in diameter, were ferried across Long Island Sound in mid-winter. Roads were widened and utility wires temporarily removed to make way. Only one of the two trees survived the journey. Unfortunately, the second beech tree has died, and was taken down in February 2006. However, the “Fairhaven Beech” will live on. Seedlings were collected from the tree from 2000-2005.
Facilities: 409 acres; 4.5 miles of nature trails and 150 acres of landscaped plantings, including rhododendron and azalea displays. There’s also a synoptic garden, a rose garden, a main greenhouse with exotic plants year-round, a camellia greenhouse and a gift shop (with plant sales).
Seasons/Hours: The park is open year-round 9 a.m.-5 p.m., except Christmas. Greenhouses close at 4 p.m. Admission: Memorial Day-Labor Day $6 per car, Sept.-May $6 per car on weekends and holidays only. Coe Hall is open daily, except holidays, for guided tours April 1 thru September 30 from noon to 3:30 p.m. Admission: $5.00 adults; $3.50 NYS seniors and students with I.D.; $1.00 children (7-12)
Pets: No Pets Are Allowed.