The Garden Club of America, Zone III (NYS) Tour & Talk

Keynote speaker Charles Birnbaum

Enthusiastic delegates from 22 New York State chapters of the Garden Club of America (GCA) were in Westchester this week. Green thumbed horticulturists, historians and civic volunteers from Rochester, Millbrook, Binghamton, Bedford and more – along with officers of the GCA including the Chairs of Conservation and Scholarship attended the Zone III Annual meeting aptly themed “Seeds of Rye.” The 3 day event hosted by the Rye Garden Club and The Little Garden Club of Rye showcased our city’s most treasured gardens and open spaces including the National Historic Landmark Jay Estate. At their visit to the Jay Heritage Center on Wednesday morning, everyone first heard a stimulating talk by Charles Birnbaum, Founder and President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Charles engaged the audience with a dynamic presentation about the challenges and opportunities facing stewards of America’s designed spaces – how do we protect and interpret “What’s Out There” and make it relevant? Advocacy, dedicated research and active dialogue are some of the effective tools that TCLF offers.

The lecture was followed by walks around the Jay family property; guests were then treated to tasty box lunches served on the veranda overlooking the meadow abuzz with dragonflies. The best reveal was saved for last – a private tour of two of three stone walled garden spaces slated for future rehabilitation and community use. On Wednesday evening, JHC was further honored by the Garden Club of America with a prestigious Zone Historic Preservation Award in recognition of its new public private partnership with NY State and Westchester County Parks. Other Westchester organizations receiving accolades and commendations were the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College and Untermeyer Gardens in Yonkers which received a special Commendation for Historic Preservation.

Photos by Cutty McGill

Delegates in the first garden room noting invasive Japanese stiltgrass and Norway maples
Delegates look at JHC’s “wish list” for the Jay Estate landscape – restored gardens, an elm allée, native meadow and apple orchard. The elm tree in the photo is one of the oldest on the property and the last survivor of an elm allée of more than 16 trees – the others fell victim to invasive multiflora vines and Dutch elm disease.
Delegates heard about plans to transform an abandoned swimming pool into a reflecting pond surrounded by a sensory garden
Nancy Everett and Linda Fraser tour the Jay gardens
Kathy Stradar studies archival images of the Jay gardens especially parterre images donated by the Palmer and Devereux families of Princeton
Charles Birnbaum and Suzanne Clary
Chris Murray takes a photo for the history books!
Attendees purchased copies of Birnbaum’s Pioneers of Landscape Design
Following the program at the 1907 Van Norden Carriage House, delegates headed to the Jay Mansion for a tour and lunch
Rye Garden Club and Little Garden Club volunteers put together box lunches for all attendees
Incoming GCA President Anne Copenhaver and GCA President Katie Heins
Suzanne Clary introduces Charles Birnbaum
Archival photos of Grace Talcott in the Jay Gardens were posted for all to see
Charles Birnbaum and incoming GCA President Anne Copenhaver
The weather cooperated with abundant sunshine
JHC Advisory Board Member Arete Warren and Suzanne Clary
Lunch was served on the Jay veranda
Everyone got a tour of the mansion