In the early 1980s we started gardening in an area behind the bungalow garage with old-fashioned peonies and a few other heirloom perennials taken from Nancy’s parent’s gardens in Wisconsin. In the ensuing years, this little garden has grown to a series of fruit, vegetable and flower gardens stretching from a salt-tolerant seaside garden in front of the bungalow to a bird-friendly planting at the edge of the woods behind the main house.
There is a cottage-style garden in front of the schoolhouse, enclosed by a picket fence copied from an artifact at Old Bethpage and featuring herbs in its center section. Nancy, the head gardener at Winds Way, has planted the surrounding borders thickly with sun-loving perennials such as echinacea’s, rudbeckias and various species of goldenrod and aster. A similar picket fence in front of the main house encloses another garden laid out formally with two large squares and boxwood balls delineating the walk to the front door, but planted informally with perennials in the center beds, and surrounded by borders integrating ornamental shrubs and shade tolerant herbaceous plants.In the spring, this garden is full of tulips. Over by the barn is another enclosed garden, featuring twelve varieties of hydrangeas interplanted with viburnums, dogwoods, roses and other shrubs that maintain the red-blue color scheme.Blood root, trillium, anemone and other wild flowers set the stage early in the season.
Between the house and school is an orchard, featuring twenty apple varieties, mostly antique types such as the Esophus Spizenburg favored by Thomas Jefferson and the old English standby, Cox’s Orange Pippin. There are also peaches, cherries, pears, blueberries and a quince. Some of the trees are espaliered on a fence surrounding the orchard, along with roses.
In front of the school is a wild-flower meadow, containing goldenrods, Queen Ann’s lace, and milkweeds for the monarch butterflies, butter and eggs, common mullein and Jerusalem artichokes. Next to that is the main vegetable garden and beyond that an area devoted to small fruits such as red and black currents, gooseberries, blackberries and various types of raspberries. There are also smaller gardens devoted to woodland plants and ornamental shrubs and there are benches everywhere to encourage sitting and watching the world go by.
Our east hedgerow is an historic “eleven o’clock line” that dates to 1661 when it marked the eastern boundary of the four allotments granted to John Budd by Southold Town in the first “Aquebogue Dividend.” In the nineteenth century, this hedge was the eastern boundary of Richard’s great-great-grandfather Edward Young’s farm. Some of the old split-rail fence posts, likely placed by him well over a century ago, still stand in the hedge line. Many of the oldest trees in that hedgerow probably sprouted along that fence line.
This hedge supports a large variety of flora. According to experts in England, where hedgerows have been carefully studied, the larger the number of species found, the older the hedge. We have identified native red maples, red cedars, white oaks, post oaks, sassafras, black cherry, locust, hickory, and hackberry trees – all Long Island natives – in addition to mulberry, sour “pie” cherry, apple and the ubiquitous Norway maples that are crowding out native species in so many local woodlands. There is a very large red cedar at the southern end of the hedge. Beneath the trees is an understory of brambles creating a natural habit for birds and small animals.
Richard’s nephew Christopher Wines farms this piece in conjunction with the main part of the family farm on Sound Avenue. The two fields are currently planted in a mixture of alfalfa and grasses, which Chris generally harvests monthly from May through September to use as winter feed for his herd of dairy cows.
Woodland and Wetlands
We believe the woodland on the southeast corner of the property is about a century old. Before that, this area was most likely used as pasture land by Richard’s great-great-grandfather. There is a string of older trees, mostly oaks, along what was probably an old fence line dividing the upland from the salt hay in the wetlands beyond. The woods are predominantly red cedar, Norway maple and a sprinkling of hickory and three kinds of oak:red, white and post. There are a few apple trees and Chinese elms along the edge. The understory includes native holly.
The extreme southeast parts of the property are salt-water wetlands edged with bayberry, salt spray roses, groundsel, beach plum, poison ivy and marsh elder.