I seem to find more and more places to explore in Long Island these days. I had never heard of this place until I caught sight of a sign while passing through Oyster Bay one weekend. Planting Fields is considered a State Historic Park, but definitely not a place that I would normally think of as a park. It is more of a horticultural center that happens to be on a vast tract of grassy fields, complete with a mansion to drool over. The property was founded by English tycoon William Robertson Coe, a maritime insurer whose company happened to do the insurance for the Titanic, among other ships. His wife was an heiress of the oil industry. Certainly, this kind of money allowed for a very impressive abode on the historic Gold Coast of Long Island.
The grounds are 409 acres, but much of what you want to see is a walkable distance from the estate. There are two greenhouses. The main one has various wings that lead you through a sensory overload of colorful vegetation.
The other greenhouse, called Camelia House, houses camellias, of course. Sadly, they are not in bloom this time of year so all you see are just the green parts of the plants.
Nearby, there are a number of gardens to stroll through. One garden that was particularly beautiful was the dahlia garden. They come in so many different colors – more than I would have imagined!
Coe Hall, the mansion on the property, is a stunner with a dark, gothic interior and beautiful plasterwork everywhere. The various kinds of glass panes on the windows are also worth noting from room to room. There are only two guided tours per day. We made do without a tour and wandered at leisure. In some of the rooms, a staffer kindly told us about the history of the items within.
Oh how I would love to live in a place where I can summon a butler (or maid) with the press of a button! These were in one of the bedrooms by the door.
The park is open from 9 to 5 every day. There are two separate fees – the entrance fee is $8 per car, while the fee for the house is $3.50 a person. Admission to the grounds is free in the winter. If music concerts are your thing, they host the occasional concert on the grounds – visit their events page for specific dates. No bikes are allowed.