Our first order of business at the charming Williams Preserve in Lattingtown, donated by Mary and Tim Williams, was to mow the areas along the driveway to facilitate access for maintenance. We then conducted an initial clearing of what will become a tiny parking area, to be installed once we have secured local approval. Since our last newsletter we began the long process of tackling extensive growth of undesirable vegetation throughout the property. A large volume of vines and invasive shrubs has been cleared mechanically, rescuing a number of native trees and shrubs (including a statuesque oak leaf hydrangea) in the process. In addition, a wall that was part of a formal garden designed by Ferruccio Vitale was uncovered. Much of the remaining clearing needs to be done by hand to protect the native vegetation that remains and access hard to reach areas along sensitive slopes and pond and stream edges.
Coincidentally, Ferrucio Vitale also designed the formal garden at the Rumpus House at the Humes property. Umberto Innocenti began his work as a landscape architect at the firm of Ferruccio Vitale and Alfred Geiffert, Jr. He left it in 1931 to start the firm of Innocenti & Webel which, over the following decades, became the preferred landscape architects for the Humes Estate.
Since the initial clearing was completed, our dedicated volunteers have removed vines by hand from the countless mature, majestic trees that are found throughout the property. They are beginning to remove invasive shrubs and vines from along the creek that goes from the property boundary and under the driveway into the pond. The spring ephemeral trout lily was observed on the bank of the creek in the spring; we hope to find more of this and perhaps other spring ephemeral’s as the property’s restoration continues. The creek is also lined with native jewel weed, which supports hummingbirds, so we are excited to learn more about the wildlife here.
A highlight of the work our workers and volunteers has done was the uncovering of a stone staircase installed decades ago to connect the future meadow at the top of the property to the pond below. While it will require a little “engineering” to fully make the connection and become safely navigable, it is a discovery we are very happy about!
We are working to develop a phased habitat restoration plan that will map out several natural communities – meadow, grassland, freshwater pond, stream and woodland – with implementation to begin next spring.
We welcome volunteers and look forward to the time when St. John’s Church parishioners and summer camp attendees can take a quiet stroll or eat a sandwich by the pond. With many thanks to the Williams family for their generous gift.