Planting Fields Foundation and New York State Parks announce implementation of report recommendations

Planting Fields Foundation and New York State Parks announce implementation of report recommendations

Planting Fields Foundation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are pleased to announce that implementation of the recommendations from the Planting Fields Cultural Landscape Report, completed at the end of 2019, will commence in March 2020.

Exactly one year ago, the foundation engaged Heritage Landscapes LLC, a preeminent firm in the field of landscape preservation and stewardship with experience consulting on over 50 Olmsted landscape preservation projects throughout the U.S.

Heritage Landscapes developed the CLR for Planting Fields, which not only identifies the historic precedent and significance of the landscape but also sets forth a preservation and management philosophy to inform ongoing landscape stewardship. The report caps off more than a decade of work and collaboration between the foundation and state Parks that originated with the Planting Fields Master Plan, published in 1993. At the end of 2019, the Heritage Landscapes led CLR earned the Merit Award for Landscape Planning & Analysis in the 2019 Connecticut ASLA Professional Awards competition.

The CLR has recommended nine early-action steps, the first of which calls for the restoration of the Beech Copse, a central Olmsted Brothers design element located on the East Lawn.

On March 28th, the Long Island Arboricultural Association has arranged for 100 of its members to spend an entire day to remove 15 mostly diseased beech trees, an imperative and unavoidable preventive measure to protect surrounding, healthy plant life. A few weeks later, 22 new beech trees will be replanted in the same area by a volunteer team from Wonderland Tree Care, beginning “Earth Day” April 22nd and culminating with the Arbor Day Family Festival on April 25th and 26th.

“This deeply researched historic designed landscape report provides a basis for action to enhance the grace, beauty and horticultural interest of the Planting Fields landscape,” said Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes. “As an early project, the replanting of the Beech Copse is a significant step toward renewal. Today this feature, specifically requested by W.R. Coe after seeing copses in England, is much degraded. The trees were planted small and grew up together in a cluster. Removing the remaining declining trees and planting new ones gives us the opportunity to see this unique feature grow back, taking its central place in the scenery of Planting Fields lawn once again.”

Planting Fields Foundation and New York state Parks are working collaboratively on other early action steps outlined in the report, such as improvements to sitewide wayfinding and interpretive signage needs, with the goal of implementation by the end of 2020. Other early action steps include the restoration of the Main Entrance Drive, the Heather Garden rehabilitation and rehabilitation of the Carshalton Gates and Drive Landscape.

“With the completion of the CLR, we now have a clear roadmap for reasonably preserving and enhancing the property’s pre- and post-Coe family era landscape features,” states Gina Wouters, executive director of the Planting Fields Foundation. “These recommendations encourage us to carefully consider the property’s natural heritage value as part of a contemporary and evolving urban landscape. We believe these goals support the long-term preservation of the historic Olmsted landscape while providing opportunities for a more holistic visitor experience at Planting Fields and a more sustainable future.”

“The collaboration between the Planting Fields Foundation, NYS Parks and Heritage Landscapes is a pivotal moment that will have significant long-term benefits to the Arboretum,” adds Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park Director Vincent Simeone. “Preserving the integrity of the historic landscape and its integration with the more contemporary hardy and non-hardy plant collections is vital in keeping Planting Fields sustainable and relevant.  Planting Fields is an oasis for public horticulture, landscape design, history and architecture, and the CLR will help us meet both our short- and long-term goals in preserving and protecting these features.”

Submitted by Planting Fields Foundation

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