Fifty years ago, in January 1969, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden formed a satellite garden in the Town of North Hempstead.
Today, the 12-acre garden is the town’s Clark Botanic Garden on IU Willets Road, a popular destination among residents and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the natural world, celebrate horticulture and participate in the town’s many programs.
The garden’s golden jubilee will see programs all year long commemorating the anniversary of its founding and celebrating the town, as well as planned improvements and new attractions.
“Whether you are a master gardener, or someone who just likes to stop and smell the roses, there will be a multitude of opportunities to learn about and enjoy our botanical paradise right here in North Hempstead,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a news release.
The garden is still managed in part by the Fanny Dwight Clark Memorial Garden nonprofit group, and the organization as well as the town have put together programs for the anniversary.
A monthly distinguished speakers series will feature experts giving lectures on horticulture and home gardening topics. In September there will be a 50th anniversary gala, including the dedication of a new moonlight garden to the Clark family, followed by music from the ’60s and an alfresco cocktail party, according to the garden’s website.
Seasonal morning walks will be guided by the garden’s two resident horticulturists. Throughout the summer, there will be weekly concerts in the garden and evening walks.
The town is accepting photos of the garden until Jan. 18 to exhibit in a photo gallery in the Clark House this spring. The town’s NHTV cable channel also has a documentary in the works about the history of Clark Botanic Garden, with release planned for the spring.
The garden also had several projects in last year’s and this year’s town capital plans. According to a town spokesperson, a study was conducted last year to determine what improvements could be made to the garden in the ensuing fiscal year.
This year $150,000 will be spent on an engineering study to determine the status of the pumps and pipes that aerate the garden’s ponds. Next year $1.5 million is allocated for the planned improvements to those ponds, town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said.
Also part of the town’s capital plan for the garden is the creation of its first sensory herb garden.
The sensory garden, designed by students Michelle Callagan and Dona Damaltis and professor Michael Veracka from Farmingdale State College’s department of urban horticulture, will feature a 25-foot-by-10-foot space that will stimulate the senses. Some of the different zones of the sensory garden will include varying fragrances, “tickly touch,” edible vegetation, movement, sound and color.
Last month, the town hosted a Winter Wonderland event at the garden, featuring holiday train displays, arts and crafts, lights, and story time with Bosworth.
Clark Botanic Garden also won an award last year in the 2018 All-America Selections Landscape Design Challenge, placing third.
Given by Grenville Clark in honor of his late wife, Fanny Dwight Clark, the garden was originally named for her: the Fanny Dwight Clark Memorial Garden. In 1989 it was acquired by the town through a conservation easement.
As part of that acquisition, the town was legally obligated to conduct the garden as a botanic garden, as distinguished from a park by access and management, and to fulfill its purpose of practicing horticulture and horticultural education. Clark Botanic Garden is now part of the town’s park system.