One of the many wonderful things on the East End has to be the amazing diversity of phenomenal, old and majestic trees. When driving down the oldest roads and lanes and passing the original farmlands, you can’t help but notice the still standing noble trees that shaded these homesteads well before air conditioning or even electric fans!
We all have our favorite types of trees. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite, although I would put the giant redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument in Northern California, outside of San Francisco up highest on my list. According to the Muir Woods official park website, redwoods have been growing in that location for 20 million years! It’s a very special place.
The oldest trees of Long Island are scattered all over the island, with many in the Stony Brook area and on the North Fork. I know of many outstanding old trees on the South Fork, usually near the farmhouses south of Route 27 in Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Wainscott, Sagaponack, as well as the oldest homes of East Hampton Village, Southampton Village and Amagansett. There are many beech, oak, maple, sycamore, and elm trees. The eastern white pine is native to Long Island, as is the eastern red cedar, along with pitch pine. Now there are many types of pines planted over the years by homeowners.
In the spring, it’s great to see the trees blossom in their unique colorful ways. Then slowly those colorful flowered buds give way to the serene green leaves for the duration of the summer season. The most planted tree on Long Island is the Norway maple tree because they require only occasional trimming and pruning. Every now and then you see a bunch of white birch trees, and of course, the apple trees, the cherry trees, and the hickory trees. Not too many weeping willows like in Connecticut, but there are some notable ones like around Old South Cemetery in East Hampton Village.
It is reported that the Bostwick Forest of Gardiner’s Island may be the “oldest and largest old growth forest on the northeastern coast of the U.S.A.” That forest is dominated by mighty oaks that you can observe from sailing in Gardiner’s Bay. I would love to walk through it just like Prince Charles did with his father Prince Philip. Not sure if that will ever happen, but I did once stand on the Island, just below them for a few minutes. Recently, American Bald Eagles have been observed nesting there, as well as in Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island which is open to the public all year-round. This preserve has wonderful trails and fun terrain. It’s a great place to cross country ski after a huge snowfall!
Everyone who lives, vacations or just visits the East End have special places they go out of their way to just drive through. Most of these roads have the old trees on display as one motors bye. It’s wonderful to drive through arches of sycamores like on the famous Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton Village, off the Atlantic Ocean.
I once owned a home in Pelham Manor on Oak Lane. The official village of Pelham Manor was founded in 1668 and the oaks on my property were huge and hundreds of years old. When I was teaching my girls to ride a two-wheeler bike for the first time, I pointed up to the trees and told them, “When I was your age, I rode my bike under these trees every day.” They looked up and understood what I was saying. That’s the magic of the old trees. They witnessed the history of the area they grow in. Many of the oldest trees were gazed at by the Native Americans, the early settlers and now by us. If only they could talk.