Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park Bench - Upper Brookville, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Feature #146 > May 28th, 2013 Journal Entry

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, which includes the Coe Hall Historic House Museum, is an arboretum and state park covering over 400 acres (160 ha) located in the Village of Upper Brookville in the town of Oyster Bay, New York.

Near the end of America’s Gilded Age, the estate named Planting Fields was the home of William Robertson Coe, an insurance and railroad executive, and his wife Mary “Mai” Huttleston (née Rogers) Coe, the youngest daughter of millionaire industrialist Henry H. Rogers, who had been a principal of Standard Oil. It includes the 67-room Coe Hall, greenhouses, gardens, woodland paths, and outstanding plant collections. Its grounds were designed by Guy Lowell, A. R. Sargent, the Olmsted Brothers, and others. Planting Fields also features an herbarium of over 10,000 pressed specimens.

The name “Planting Fields” comes from the Matinecock Indians who cultivated the rich soil in the clearings high above Long Island Sound.

Sargent created The Italian Blue Pool Garden between 1914 and 1918, with the Tea House built in 1915 to designs by Guy Lowell. Historically this garden was planted with spring-blooming perennials such as delphiniums, irises, peonies, and poppies. It is currently being restored to this original form.

After the unexpected death of A.R. Sargent in 1918, the Coes appointed the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, with James Frederick Dawson as chief landscape architect, who brought their signature “naturalistic” look to the north side of the property. They completed additions to the Main Greenhouse and Camellia Greenhouse, as well as the Beech Copse, Main Lawn, West Lawn and Heather Garden.

The Green Garden features a circular pool. Nearby Azalea Walks and Vista Path show hundreds of varieties of Azalea and Rhododendron. The Rose Arbor and Rose Garden contain over 680 Tea, shrub, and miniature roses.

The Synoptic Garden displays over 500 types of tree and shrub, arranged in alphabetical order by botanical name.

The Magnolia Collection contains over 80 types of deciduous and evergreen Magnolia.

The Rhododendron Collection shows over 1,000 types of azalea and rhododendron.

The Camellia Greenhouse (Lowell & Sargent, 1917; revised and extended by Olmsted Brothers, 1917–1922)3 was built specifically to house the Camellia collection, originally of 114 full-grown plants; currently the collection consists of over 300 plants. It was James F. Dawson’s idea to sink the tubs directly in the ground, rather than trundle them out seasonally, the usual procedure for camellias grown in greenhouses.

The Main Greenhouse (Lowell & Sargent/Olmsted Brothers) was constructed between 1914 and 1929, with a Hibiscus House added in 1929 for the Coes’ Hibiscus collection. Today, the Main Greenhouse offers large collections of orchids, cacti and succulents, houseplants, ferns and Begonias, as well as seasonal displays of Chrysanthemum, Poinsettia, Hydrangea, Coleus, etc.

The North Border features the Holly collection, Dwarf Conifer Garden, Conifer Trail, Heather Garden, and Species Rhododendron. The Holly collection includes over 100 different types of evergreen hollies such as English, American, Asian and hybrid forms. The Dwarf Conifer Garden features dozens of varieties of spruce, fir, Chamaecyparis, Juniper, Pine, etc. The nearby full-scale conifers can reach over 60 feet (18 m) tall, and include Sequoia, Dawn Redwood, Larch, Fir, Spruce and Pine, with a large assortment of Rhododendron species under the canopy. The Heather Garden features low growing heaths and heathers, as well as Rhododendron, Azalea, and other flowering plants.

The Dahlia Garden offers several hundred varieties of show-quality Dahlias.
Finally, there are over 200 acres (81 ha) of woodland at Planting Fields, with miles of walking trails through the woods. Before some recent losses the Long Island Horticultural Society reported that eighteen of the trees at Planting Fields were the largest of their species on Long Island.4”Read more”:

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