Gardening is a gift that keeps on giving – and this is especially true of the Planting Fields Arboretum, a jewel of a gift on Long Island’s Gold Coast.
William Robertson Coe, who made his fortune in marine insurance, built the mansion in 1921 in the style of a 16th century Elizabethan country home – but it’s the park-like 409-acre estate, designed by the Olmsted brothers, that brings gardening enthusiasts, walkers, brides, and myself back in time.
There’s a scene in the film Roxanne, in which Steve Martin, playing a fire chief who is nasally challenged, steps outside, sniffs the air, and announces that there is a fire. That’s how it is with me when I decide on a good day to rake the leaves of autumn. Today was one such day.
When I walked outside, the air was crisp and still, the faintest hint of ice on the edges of the fallen leaves — a fine day to take my new rake out for a spin. After years of holding onto my ancient aluminum rake, the one with the head that always fell off, I purchased a new model from Home Depot.
You can keep those extra large plastic tined rakes. They seem to only rake the surface of the grass, never getting between the blades and down to the soil. No, for me, it’s all about the metal, and the one I chose had plenty of it. Black metallic tines. Sturdy. A green rubber grip on the end of the pole. It seemed to say, “Buy me, and I will rake your lawn like nobody’s business. We can make make magic together — just you and me and all those leaves.”
Very early last Thursday morning, at about 2:00 a.m., I saw my garden from a whole new perspective. I was wheeled out, backwards, on a gurney. Joe decided to call the ambulance when I told him that I felt pressure on my chest and had difficulty breathing. As a heart patient with 13 stents, that is definitely a scary feeling.
The good news in all this is that I am feeling better, although I am still in the hospital. My heart is strong, but the doctors do not understand how my healthy liver produced enough enzymes to prevent my blood from coagulating. So I am closely monitored and feeling antsy. Joe brought up the laptop, and here I sit. Writing.
It’s been kind of strange the past few days, to be in this hospital room and not be able to walk around the garden, upload photos, update this blog, and visit the sites of so many people I have met through this exercise. How have I passed the time, you ask?