Planting Fields is a glorious Gold Coast estate that was transformed into an arboretum after being purchased by William Robertson Coe. The English style 65-room mansion, built in 1921, was considered extravagant even by Gold Coast standards. It has many unique features, such as the stained glass windows purchased by Coe from Henry the Eighth, the King of England, and Indiana limestone exterior in the sixteenth century Elizabethan style. The mansion is surrounded by 409 acres of gardens, woodlands, and greenhouses.
In Planting Fields there is Coe Hall, Manor House, Carriage House, Hay Barn, library, visitors center, greenhouses, gardens, and more. The park was designed by The Olmsted Brothers – the same landscape architechts that designed Central Park. In 1955 Planting Fields estate was transferred to the State of New York and became New York’s first State Historic Park in 1993.
(Click on any small photo below to view the photo gallery)
The first place I visited in Planting Fields was the Coe Hall. The mansion was inspired by 16th century English architecture and decor, popular during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Extra high ceilings and a magnificent chandelier in the Entrance Hall were impressive to the original visitors of the mansion as they were to me. All the original furniture, however, was taken by the heirs, but the replacements are valuable Elizabethan style antiques, many of which were donated to the mansion.
When visiting the palace of Henry the Eighth in England, William Coe was so taken with the stained glass windows, that he purchased them from the palace and brought them back to New York to install in the mansion. The stained glass windows you see in the mansion are the real windows from the palace, while the ones in the English palace are a replica.
An interesting fact about William Coe is that he was a chairman of the biggest marine insurance company – one that insured Titanic. The phone in the photo below was the phone on which they called Coe from the Titanic to inform him that the ship was sinking. There is a Titanic exhibition on the second floor of the mansion.
There are several greenhouses in Planting Fields. The main greenhouse, called Hibiscus House, features a beautiful tropical theme with exotic plants such as coffee, banana, passionfruit, and avocado. There are mini greenhouses within: Orchid houses, Cactus house, Begonia house, and others. It is humid inside and I was bitten by mosquitos, but it was totally worth it.
My favorite place is the Tea House. The Tea House is situated in a flowering garden by a pool with fountains and mini statues. On the opposite side of the pool there is a Medieval type gate with spikes and rotten heads on it. Just kidding, no heads. Through the gate you can see the mansion.
There are many nature trails and gardens: rose garden, lily garden, dahlia garden… In Synoptic Garden there are more than 400 species of flowering shrubs and small trees. The Arboretum Center offers short courses in spring and fall with over 10,000 pressed specimens available for studying!
There is a library where you can find hundreds of books on gardening, available for reading. The visitor’s center has a gift shop and a cafe. I recommend bringing your own food though.
I walked around for about two hours, but the estate is immense and there is so much more to see. I will be coming back…
Information for visiting Planting Fields
The admission to Planting Fields is free, but you have to pay $8 for parking until November, 18th.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
1395 Planting Fields Road
Oyster Bay, NY 11771
9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily
Coe Hall (mansion) Hours and Fee:
Fee $5, children under 12 free
11:30 am – 3:30 pm 3/27 – 10/2 daily
October: Weekends only
Tours are self-guided, but sometimes volunteer tour guides are there. I recommend a guided tour, as it is very informative.
For more information contact the Arboretum @ (516) 922-8600
Enjoy your visit!
Yours, Natasha Pea.