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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Greenport, North Fork, Long Island – a nature walk and birding by iphone at the Arshamomaque Preserve.

Warm days in April are some of the best times to walk the trails of the  Arshamomaque nature preserve on Chapel Lane in Greenport, Long Island, a two minute drive from the Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast on the way to Greenport village.

The preserve is 51 acres, part of the Long Island Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve and listed for protection because of its exceptional scenic, biological and recreational resources and at this time of year offers a rare and brief opportunity to see and photograph the Vernal ponds .

Reflections in a vernal pond

This week the weather was perfect, mild but with a crispness in the air, and as the trees had not yet leafed out there was nothing to restrict the view of the magical reflections in the ponds, which cover a large area of the preserve at the end of winter.

Swamp Cottonwood in early Spring

These expanses of water which only exist for a short time as a result of the snows and rains of winter will dry up entirely as the weather warms but not before the many animals that depend on them, especially for breeding will have completed one important cycle of their lives. Most of these animals such as frogs, toads, turtles, and salamanders spend a majority of their life in the nearby wetlands but migrate to breed or feed in these productive vernal pools. Fingernail clams and air-breathing snails live their entire life in vernal pools and must burrow beneath leaves and mud when the pool dries until the water returns. Fairy shrimp produce eggs that remain in the dry pool after the adult’s death and hatch after the pool refills.

Wood anenomes carpet the forest floor in April

Arial photographs indicate that sixty percent of the preserve was once farmed. Over time fields were left fallow and resulted in the mixed stages of plant succession that you can see as you pass along the trails. Some meadow like areas are at early stages of development and still dominated by grasses and perennial herbs, providing food and cover for white tailed deer, bobwhite quail and eastern cottontails.

A grassy meadow within the preserve

A large area is at the shrub land stage where eastern red cedar and northern bayberry prevail, providing cover for animals to sleep, roost and escape predators. Finally stands of black locusts, a fast growing deciduous tree represent a more advanced stage of succession, and these will eventually, in many years give way to beeches, oaks and hickories.

Reflections in the Marsh

The preserve also includes an example of a swamp cottonwood forest, rare in NY State, also mixed with other swamp hardwoods which support specialized bird and animal populations.

The short or the long trail- you choose

The blue trail will take you to the bird observation tower, a tree house like structure with a view over the marsh.

Bird spotting from the tree house blind

I brought my iphone with the ‘chirp!USA’ app, a bird song and photograph identification tool that I have used in my back yard to attract different species to my feeders. This time I played the Redwing blackbird song and sure enough, within minutes an interested male of the species was checking out the source – of  a rival or possible mate? – not being a bird, I really had no way to tell!

Male Redwing blackbird checking out my iphone

Arshamomaque is only one of many preserves on the North Fork which offer such quiet and tranquil beauty all year round including the National Audubon Society preserve just a few minutes from the Shorecrest . I will be writing about the others soon in this blog and reporting back as they change with the season.

Cattail Marsh from the bird blind

Cattail Marsh viewed from the bird blind

I hope you will find the time to visit and enjoy them too, and ask us about our special discounts for National Audubon and Garden Conservancy members for off season and mid week stays, and a private tour of the Shorecrest gardens.

March view from the bird blind

The Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast gardens are predominantly planted up with perennials and a generous dose of annuals, mostly self seeded from the previous year, to maintain color and fill in gaps when the perrenial borders aren’t quite up to par.

I’ll be writing about them in my next blog post  and following up with progressive articles as they change throughout the year

We look forward to welcoming you to Shorecrest soon and would love to be your guide and helper as you explore the natural beauty of the North Fork.

Spring has sprung and the gardens are in bloom on Long Island’s North Fork

Some of my Southold Neighbors enjoying the April Sunshine

I was in Manhattan last week on Central Park South the day that the temperature reached ninety degrees. I love this time of year in New York City. The leaves were already bursting into pale green on the trees, almost two weeks earlier than here on the North Fork where the temperature never rose above 75 F that day. The water that surrounds our area moderates the temperature all year round, giving us milder temperatures in the winter and always providing a welcome cooling effect in the dog days of summer.

The salt air really suits certain plants, like hydrangeas which can be spectacular later in the year. My garden has giant ancient specimens lining the walk leading up to the front door that were planted in the 1920’s. The daffodils on the berm in front of my house are putting on quite a show right now and I am looking forward to the sequential plantings of flowering perennials that will follow right through the fall.

Hydrangeas from the Shorecrest garden later in the year

I’m a bit of a Jackson Pollock gardener when it comes to design and layout. This is largely due to time constraints (running a BnB is a busy life) and the large amount of space I needed to fill quickly ( the front border that flanks route 48 is 20 feet wide and almost 200 feet long) when I  decided to turn the wild jungle that was here in 2005 into the kind of tapestry of floral textures and colors that I have today. Of course, I’m never done and my next big project is the dividing hedge I want to grow between the East Lawn and the roadside border, to give both  privacy to the side of the house and create another ‘garden room’. I’m also thinking of turning the vacant plot next to me into a meadow of wild flowers and grasses. Stay tuned to my blog for pictures and progress reports!

Garden Conservancy Open Days program

Each month brings it’s own special glory in the garden and a great treat for me is to visit private local gardens that open to the public once a year as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program. Apart from the visual treat I learn a lot from these visits and often get some great ideas on plant combinations and what will and will not grow well here.

On May 1st there are several gardens open in Suffolk County ‘s Hamptons on the South Fork. Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast is delighted to offer special rates to guests who would like to visit these gardens and also spend some time on the North Fork enjoying our spectacular countryside, beaches, wineries and farms. We are just a ferry ride from the South Fork so please call Shorecrest  (631 765 1570) or visit our web site for more information on our ‘Garden Conservancy’ package which includes a private guided tour of our own acre garden.

Below is a list of the open gardens in May in Suffolk’s  East end. For directions and information on tickets please visit the Garden Conservancy web site. We’ll be posting more on gardening and gardens on the North Fork and the June Schedule for Open Days soon.

Open Gardens on the East End of Suffolk county New York On May 1st 2010

Abby Jane Brody

44 Glade Road
East Hampton, New York

This is primarily a woodland garden in which the native oaks are the upper story. It is a plant collector’s garden with a special emphasis on rare or unusual flowering trees and shrubs as well as herbaceous plants. The half-acre site has something in flower, often fragrant, almost every day of the year. In early May, the last of the camellias and hellebores may be in bloom, as well as daphne, epimediums, and hundreds of other woodland plants.

Margaret Kerr

1006 Springs Fireplace Road
East Hampton, New York

The garden, designed by Kerr, surrounds the house and studios on two acres that extend down to the wetlands of Accabonack Harbor. Kerr’s brick rug sculptures, inspired by tribal Middle Eastern carpets, are placed throughout the garden. One, a brick prayer rug, lies in a contemplative glade below her studio. Kerr collects plants grown in the Middle Ages in a courtyard around a fountain and lily pool highlighted with espaliered pear trees. In the spring, drifts of thousands of daffodils bloom in the fields around the house and are left unmown until late fall. Native grasses and wildflowers make islands of meadow during the summer.

Biercuk/Luckey Garden

18 Sayres Path
Wainscott, New York

This four-season woodland garden under a high oak canopy shelters a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, kalmia, pieris, understory trees, perennials, bulbs, and tropicals in season. A mostly sunny, rear corner contains a pool designed as a pond with a waterfall and is surrounded with plantings which peak mid-July through October. Winding paths and stone walls enhance a sense of depth and elevation change on a mostly flat acre. There is something in bloom every season.

The Garden of Dianne B

86 Davids Lane
East Hampton, New York

Idyllically located between the East Hampton Nature Trail lovingly known as the ‘Duck Pond’ and an impressive apple orchard, this evolving new garden exists on a charmed acre. A grand magnolia and other splendid old trees provide the anchor, as well as hiding places for Dianne’s trove of odd woodland plants—especially her beloved jack-in-the-pulpits. This is a garden where layers of variegated plants, big circular leaves, unexpected sculptures, twisted trees, and weepers of all kinds provide much more drama than what is in bloom. Fritillaria are her specialty among thousands of spring bulbs and extraordinary tree peonies. It sets the stage for her garden website, her Hamptons Cottages and Gardens column, and embodies all the principles from her book, DIRT.

Golf on Long Island’s North Fork: Island’s End in Greenport

As the name suggests, Island’s End Golf Course is at the far end of the North Fork, just a few miles from Orient Point and a five minute drive to the east from Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast, in one of the most beautiful spots on Long Island. You can golf here year round, except for Christmas Day and public players can book tee times 7 days in advance. The golf course and country club is semi private and includes a Pro Shop, driving range, practice putting green, sand trap and chipping areas. You can rent clubs, take private and group lessons, and refreshments are available at the restaurant and bar or beverage cart on weekends.
Island’s end has a great reputation for the quality of the course and its natural beauty. For a spectacular sunset view, plan on playing the 16th hole, which extends to the bluffs looking west over the Long Island Sound, towards the end of the day. If you play earlier, you can always be back at the Shorecrest in time to stroll across to our own beach and toast the sun as it dips behind the horizon with a glass of wine or a beer sitting in one of our Adirondack chairs. Ask for some crackers and cheese to take with you and we will be happy to oblige!
Island’s End is located on route 25 in Greenport, and like Shorecrest, a reasonable drive from any part of Long Island. But positioned as we both are, in the North Fork’s most rural and bucolic area, you feel that you have entered a different world from the largely urban or suburban landscape you will find on the rest of the island. Driving from New York City or the west, as you approach Riverhead, take exit 71 north, then turn right onto Sound Avenue. You will avoid traffic bottlenecks of the Tanger outlets and immediately enter farm country. A half hour drive past miles of wineries and farms, where almost every country road or lane will eventually take you to a secret beach or quiet harbor, will calm the mind and get you ready for your North Fork getaway.
Shorecrest is offering special packages for our golfing visitors. During April, add only $40 for each person golfing to the cost of your stay and we will include a pre-booked T time with golf cart and free club rentals should you need them (you can demo the latest from the golf shop!)
For more golf packages including massage and spa options for the non golfer, dinner packages, to go breakfasts and picnic lunches check out ‘specials and packages’ on the Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast reservation and availability calendar, or call us with your special requests. We will be delighted to help make your stay a memorable one!