Just one day before historic blizzard Nemo hit Fairfield and Westchester, almost 120 landscape lovers attended the 1st Annual Hort Lunch at the historic Jay Estate in Rye on Thursday, February 7, 2013. Bundled in scarves and many wearing gardening “wellies,” they braved temperatures in the low 30s to take a good look at New York State’s oldest man managed meadow and imagine its future. The event was organized by Karen Kelsey Thomas, Chris Duncan and Liz Dowling. The signature Hort Lunch logo was created by Peter Thomas.
After sips of hot chocolate outside on the Jay veranda, the crowd then walked back to the 1907 Carriage House for a cozy box lunch and iced tea in mason jars. They heard opening remarks by Charles Birnbaum, Founder and President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation who commended the Jay Heritage Center and local garden clubs for their vision to preserve the landmark park. Next, well recognized meadow expert and landscape designer, Larry Weaner described his own ideology about fitting the right plants to a site’s natural soil conditions over force-fitting the wrong species. Weaner advocates a scientific approach to managing the Jay meadow, one that first takes inventory of the native and invasive plants that grow there now before selecting a “community” of desirable wildflowers and grasses that can be established successfully and attract a greater diversity of wildlife.
Brilliant additions to the pre-blizzard program included a display of boots decorated with everything from faux fur to ladybugs and filled with bunches of calla lilies, daisies etc. as well as a bike raffle and 3 prizes for most creative wellies worn by a guest. One of the winners? A pair of tan hunter boots with John Jay’s portrait emblazoned on them! After signing up for upcoming volunteer days at Jay, everyone went home with a notebook full of midwinter garden dreams and rustic wood pencils to record them!