“Italian Gardens in America” Opens at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay, New York

June 19, 2010

Italian Gardens, Courtesy Planting Fields

Italian Gardens, Courtesy Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announces the special ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the re-opening of the Italian Garden at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York. The ceremony takes place in the Italian Garden located on the southwest side of Coe Hall.  Commissioner Carol Ash and special guests will unveil the completed restoration of Planting Fields’ gorgeous Italian Garden.

In the garden the pool tiles and water glisten, the lawns are gorgeous, the twelve recreated tubs, or caisses de Versailles are very fine and the new plantings are magnificent. It is a triumph to behold. All this is thanks to the work of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the additional generous funding and work of Planting Fields Foundation trustees Peter Tilles, G. Morgan Browne and Richard Gibney. Further funding was generously provided by The Gerry Foundation and many other contributors.

The garden has been restored to replicate Mr. and Mrs. Coe’s original vision for the space.  The sunken terraces create privacy, while the reflecting pool, statues, ornamental urns and new plant collection create an Italian atmosphere. Originally built in 1916, the garden was redesigned in the 1920s by the famous Olmsted Brothers landscape firm.

More than any other part of this park, the Italian Garden was the creation of Mai Coe, who jointly bought and owned the property with her husband, William Robertson Coe.  Since the middle of the 19th century well-to-do women who did not have to work or do household chores turned to the enjoyment of planning gardens.  In many such places, groups of women met informally for tea and to look at each other’s gardens, like the Italian Garden at Planting Fields.

The recently re-created murals in Mai Coe’s bedroom also reflect her passion for horticulture.  The huge bay window in her bedroom looks out toward the Italian Garden, which was her flower garden.  The vivid landscape painting compliments the real garden outside, creating an intoxicating visual relationship.  Visitors to Coe Hall can experience for the first time in eighty five years the design Mrs. Coe intended.

To further celebrate the opening, Planting Fields Foundation, with Premier Sponsor Ferrari, is holding an Italian Garden Gala.  Guests will walk through the garden while listening to music of the Chamber Players International Quartet and sampling Italian food made by special guest host, Lidia Bastianich, celebrity chef and author. The event will also include a silent auction to raise funds for the preservation of the restored garden.

July 8th, 6:30 pm, $15 non-members, members FREE.

Twilight Tour of the garden by Vincent A. Simeone, Director of Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, meet at Coe Hall

July 11th, Vivaldi concert in the garden, performed by The Chamber Players International, $35 per ticket.  The Concert begins at 2:30pm and includes wine and cheese.

July 18th, 2:00 pm, Coe Hall, $10 for non-members, members FREE.

Slide Lecture by Constance T. Haydock, “Edith Wharton and the Villas of Rome”

The lecture is an introduction to the fascinating world of Italian gardens as they were studied by Americans about 100 years ago, and their re-creation on great American estates.

The exhibition “Italian Gardens in America” is open to visitors in the Manor House on June 18th.

Planting Fields State Historic Park open daily, 9:00am-5:00pm

Parking Fee $8.00


June 18th – September 30th

The Manor House

11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Daily

FREE Admission to garden



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