The Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, New York, was once a grand estate owned by William R. Coe and his wife, Mai Rogers Coe. As a child growing up in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Mai Coe was particularly fond of two purple beech (Fagus) trees on the grounds of her home. William Coe was quite enamored of trees as well; in 1913, when he purchased the property on which he would build his estate, he began transforming the land into a spectacular arboretum. Part of that transformation was the transplanting of the two beech trees at the new estate.

In December 1915, the two trees were moved by barge across Long Island Sound to Oyster Bay, where they were dragged on skids by teams of horses and a steam roller to their new home. Each tree was about sixty feet in height and about forty feet wide, and each weighed more than twenty-eight tons. Only one of the trees survived the transplanting. These two beech trees were among many fully grown trees to be relocated to the Planting Fields estate.

Planting Fields is well known for its many spectacular beeches. Unfortunately, some of the parks trees are in ill health. As part of the New York State Parks tree-replenishment program, Vincent Simeone, assistant director of Planting Fields, is in the process of actively planting new beech trees.


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January 5, 2019
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