September 9, 2011

Bayard Cutting Arboretum

A few weeks ago, on a warm Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a drive to the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY. Strolling on nature trails and through flourishing gardens has always been one of my delights and this unique landscape did not disappoint. Once inside the main gates, I immediately heard the cries of hawks on the treetops. I followed a sign marked "Holly Walk" that led me into a maze of berry-filled shrubs that had me reminiscing about Christmas mornings. Another twist in the path brought me to a series of formal gardens--the sight of so many brilliant flower faces swaying in the breeze tickled my vision. The scent of pine hung heavily in my nose as I continued along the trail over rolling hills covered with a variety of conifers--fir, spruce, pine, cypress, hemlock, yew, just to name a few. The path then delivered me down to the rocky banks of the Connetquot River; I encountered many species of fowl as I walked the water's edge. I soon discovered a bridge that took me over to the tiny Breezy Island, where an entire labyrinth of bamboo awaited. I had a great feeling of adventure as I ran through the wooded tunnels. It almost seemed as though I would stumble on to a hidden treasure chest...

William Bayard Cutting began the landscape's development in 1887. Set in the middle of the arboretum is a 68-room mansion called Westbrook that was the country home of Mr. Cutting and his wife. As I stepped into the house, I found ornate fireplaces, a lavish dining room, intricately-detailed staircases, an old-world kitchen; one room toward the rear of the building even showcased a display called the "Trotter Birds." 

Some time after W. B. Cutting's death in 1912, the arboretum and mansion were donated to the Long Island State Park Region with a mission "to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting."

I would have to say that the mission has been a success.


"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect."

~1 Peter 3:15