The Sands Point Preserve Conservancy unveiled a new garden that Executive Director Jeremiah Bosgang said is an extension of its mission of fostering the natural landscape: a native, sensory garden.
Bosgang said the project began about two years ago when the preserve’s original rose garden, encompassing about 1,500 rose bushes, was infested with rose rosettes disease. The disease, which only targets roses, is irreversible.
“All you can do is remove the rose bushes and plant something else,” Bosgang said. “But that was the whole signature of the rose garden… if you take the roses out of it, what is left?”
He said it was then decided by the board of the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy to seek out a different solution instead.
The solution? A native species sensory garden.
“Which is a very different look and feel from the rose bush approach,” Bosgang said. “But there are many benefits.”
The Sands Point Preserve is located on 216 acres of land, of which 140 acres are native forests to the land’s natural ecosystem, Bosgang said.
He said the route to implement a native sensory plant garden was inspired by the conservancy’s ultimate mission as a nature preserve since a native garden would be an extension of the natural ecosystem already there.
“It could become a habitat, an extension of the ecosystem, to support all these other sorts of pollinators and insects – welcomed insects – and butterflies and hummingbirds and honey bees and that then in turn helps to spread and strengthen the ecosystems outside of the sensory garden,” Bosgang said.
Nearly 40 native species are planted in the garden, including ruby slippers oakleaf hydrangeas, purple lovegrass, white swan coneflowers and limeglow creeping junipers.
Another added benefit of the new garden is that it has a longer blooming period than for just roses.
“There will always be something in bloom, or extending the timeline of the bloom period to stretch over 9 1/2 to 10 months as opposed to having a two-month window,” Bosgang said.
The sensory garden also expands the visitor’s experience in the garden, providing a diverse array of colors, textures and fragrances that will also develop and change as the seasons progress
“You could come and visit our garden in July and it’s going to be a very different experience than if you come in November,” Bosgang said. “And not just because things aren’t growing, it’s because of different colors and it’s changing. It will actually look different.”
Another addition to the garden are concrete benches, which Bosgang said has changed how visitors interact with the garden, allowing them to sit down and enjoy the garden at their own leisure.
The preserve worked with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, a highly regarded landscape architect firm, to design the brand new garden from the soil up.
While the garden was designed by the landscape architects, Bosgang said the plantings were done by landscapers Calabrese & Sons based in Port Washington, who historically worked with the preserve.
The overall garden cost approximately $250,000, Bosgang said.
Bosgang said despite the shift away from roses the garden has been received well by visitors. He said some visitors had strong traditional sentiments about the original rose garden, but even those who loved the roses have come around to enjoy the new native plants.
He described the original rose garden as “stately” with a manicured collection of rose bushes and boxwoods. It was important for the preserve as it became a sought-after garden for weddings, parties and events.
Even if the preserve wanted to plant more roses, Bosgang said it would be impossible due to the irreversible disease.
One consistent aspect of the garden is the boxwood edge, which was preserved from the original rose garden.
The new garden, which Bosgang said is not nearly as manicured as the rose garden, creates a diverse and natural look while still being intentional.
As the preserve is a nonprofit, Bosgang said individuals can help support the preserve and its new sensory garden by dedicating benches, planters or fountains or even engraving bricks. Additional information can be found on the preserve’s website.