Newsday, October 7, 2001
By Barbara Shea
Towering trees including Long Island's largest dawn redwood
and black walnut seem poised to brush away any clouds that happen
to drift over Lattingtown's Bailey Arboretum. Another skysweeper
-- an elegant black locust, its trunk swathed in a summer-white
cloak of climbing hydrangea blossoms -- stands watch there, too,
just off the paved walk behind the main house.
These rare specimens are among the more than 600 varieties of trees and shrubs from around the world that dot the 42-acre former summer estate of New Yorkers Frank and Louise Bailey -- who wryly referred to it as "Munnysunk. But their passion for collecting exotic plants was clearly money well spent -- in view of the pleasure they gained from their pasttime and in the continuing enjoyment of visitors to the property since 1968, when it was acquired by Nassau County.
In addition to trees such as dwarf Nikko firs from Japan, blue atlas cedars from North Africa, Chinese dawn redwoods and Korean pines, there's also a three-season flower display. Annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs -- highlighted by irises, roses, rhodendrons, azaleas and chrysanthemums -- make an impressive splash against the manicured lawns (beware of strolling in new shoes, however, as the profusion of Canada geese has created a minefield, of sorts).
The estate house, built in the mid-1800s, isn't regularly open to the public but is available for use by garden clubs and conservation-related organizations. Beyond the manicured yard with its international transplants, the grounds remain in a natural state -- with trails winding through woods distinguished by centurian tulip, oak and maple trees that are Long Island natives (the map/brochure also pinpoints the island's largest tricolor beech). In spring, the forest floor is as colorful as the backyard -- carpeted with violets, trout lillies, trilliums, May apples and Jack-in-the-pulpits.
To complete the something-for-everyone design, a raised sensory garden featuring plants that can be experienced not just by sight but also by smell, taste and touch is located just off the parking lot.
Bailey Arboretum, Bayville Road and Feeks Lane, Lattingtown; 516-571-8020; Tuesday-Sunday mid-April through mid-November (hours vary seasonally); Nassau County residents $1, nonresidents $3. Occasional special events.
Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.