Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Tree-Hugger Runs Amok

   Imagine living on an estate like the one pictured below.

   There are many such places on Long Island, complete with mansions (summer homes) built and landscaped for the wealthy tycoons of the late 19th century. Some of these fabulous estates, once owned by people with names like Vanderbilt, Marshall Field and August Belmont, have been  donated to the state of New York  and have become state parks, open to the public.

   One such place is the Bayard Cutting Arboretum on the South Shore of Long Island. The estate was built by William Bayard Cutting,  an avid horticulturist and collector of plants and trees, in 1887.   The landscape design for 'Westbrook,' as the  property was called,   was done  by  Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect for New York City's Central Park.

   We spent a day there last weekend and it was a most peaceful and enjoyable experience.

   My favorite part of the day was walking underneath a massive weeping beech,  through a tunnel to a secret cave within the old tree's branches.   It was cool, dark and quiet and I felt a keen sense of kinship with the old tree.   The weeping hemlock was similar and seemed to welcome me into its embrace for a view of ancient gnarled trunk and branches.  The experience was a singular moment and I felt the presence of God.


Paths wind through about 300 acres

This old specimen has character

Idyllic places perfect for wandering 

A close-up of one of many evergreens in the Pinetum

This fading hydrangea is still lovely

A young egret poses for a photographer

Under the ancient weeping hemlock

The trunk of the weeping hemlock

Gingko leaves  

Butterfly garden

A stunning weeping beech

Under the branches of the beech

Path through the rhododendron garden

A place for quiet reflection

One of the old trees I wanted to hug!

Ferns decorate the floor of the woods

Mrs. Cutting's tea house stood on this site at one time

A bit of bird-house whimsy near the farm

The front lawn looks out onto the Connetquot  River


 Let's see, we had   perfect weather, a long walk with many   photo-ops,  lots of trees and flowers,  and a few truly sacred moments during the day.   What more could one ask for on a summer Sunday?



  1. This arboretum has such a timeless, ageless feel, and you captured its cool, restful feel. The mature trees and wandering paths and hidden pond are calling to me!

    Amazing that these places were once private summer homes.

    1. And that they can now be shared by all!!

  2. I've been trying to figure out where you live! A wonderful place with ancient trees! Thanks for sharing. Wish I was closer. xxoo Nancy

  3. I can feel a certain serenity in just looking at the path, lush greens and stillness of the woods. Your photos with the depth of field and the closeups capture are enjoyable to look at. The egret likes the place. I would too.

  4. thanks for your dear comment :) your pics are also wonderful!

  5. What a glorious place to wander.

  6. What a blessing to walk in such a beautiful place among those trees! Thank you for those pictures.

  7. I loved seeing these stunning old trees. It reminds me of many of the old trees on the grounds on the mansions in Newport, RI. Weeping Beeches are a favorite of mine.

  8. Dear Barbara,
    Thanks for your visit, which led me to this overwhelmingly fine post.
    What a generous sharing of your wander throught these magnificent gardens. I walked along with you throught your images.
    It was uplifting to learn that these lovely places are now open to the public and F.L.Olmsted is a person I have always admired. He came to England and met up with Joseph Paxton,the chap that designed fabulous greenhouses over here as well as the huge glass exhibition hall called Crystal Palace. They got on well and learned from each other.Paxton had just completed Birkenhead park, the first public park in England. This inspired Olmsted to design his Brooklyn version as well as Central Park.
    Your photographs are so clear and sharp.

    1. So happy you visited and enjoyed this. It came out of the experience of a truly wonderful day! Thank you for your kind words and information on Olmstead. I didn't know he did any designing in England.


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