Locust Valley Garden Club: Golden Flowers, Gold Coast Mansions

Sallie McNeill Rynd, Lucille DeVito, Gary Lawrence, Dean Yoder and Josie Bliss.

“We are surrounded by flowers,” Locust Valley Garden Club (LVGC) President Dean Yoder said, looking around their meeting room at Mill Neck Manor. Each table sported a bouquet of forsythia and pots of pansies, bringing Spring inside. Lucille DeVito and Kassie Miller Roth created them for the room and Priscilla Thomson enhanced the buffet table with tulips, forsythia, daffodils and pastel eggs. The culinary centerpiece of the luncheon table was a baked ham cooked by Yoder and vice president Jonathon Grimm. The sides were made by members and the dessert table they created was overflowing. That included chocolate mousse served with heaps of whipped cream. One of the club’s perks is its home-prepared luncheon dishes.

Sallie McNeill Rynd and her bouquet of daffodils, helibores and primroses in red with yellow centers.
(Photo by Dagmar Karppi)

There were even leftovers, and Josie Bliss, environmental chair, offered a clue on how to save the planet by bringing along your own re-useable plastic containers to take restaurant leftovers home.

She talked about the insidious appearance of microplastics in our water and food streams and that by making small changes ourselves, we can eliminate items from the plastic waste stream, Bliss explained. That includes carrying your own re-useable water flask. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US has one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies,” she stated.

She also suggested using Earthbreeze laundry detergent sheets purchased on the Internet. They eliminate the use of carrying home heavy plastic detergent containers that just end up in the waste stream.

Lucille DeVito and Marcy Meyer setting the table with colorful paperware contributed by Terri and Anthony Perri. (Photos by Kassie Miller Roth)

Guest speaker Gary Lawrence, architect and historian of the Gold Coast mansions, showed photographs of the homes built during the Gilded Age by wealthy merchants when the established society ignored them. The photos show the houses nested inside the original treed landscape of Long Island—before development. They included pictures of the cultivated gardens of the estates following the example of Europe. They even brought in aged trees to give the impression of the estates having been there for generations.

Waiting to join the buffet line: (right to left): Jonathan Grimm, Dean Yoder, Dagmar Karppi and Terri Swenson.

Sallie McNeill Rynd, horticulture chair, brought primroses to the meeting. “A friend of mine divided a clump of primroses and shared them with me. I planted them successfully in my garden. They are one of the first perennials to bloom magically in the spring. I love that they are delicate and yet hardy.” Some varieties even re-seed themselves.

Contact Dean Yoder at for more information about the Locust Valley Garden Club.

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