Locust Valley Garden Club member Jamie Arty hosted the April 12 meeting. She shared information from her trip to Mexico where the migratory Monarch butterflies winter. Members also enjoyed a tour of her 1834 mansion and gardens that she and her husband Franz have been restoring since 2017. You, along with 36,000 viewers, can view the progress on her FaceBook blog, Making Over A Mansion. Horticultural chair Sallie McNeill Rynd said, “It was a beautiful warm spring day and Jamie had every window and door open to let the breezes in. The entire house was filled with amazing Easter decorations and tables were set with lovely fresh food and a spiral cut ham.” That included an overflowing dessert table. Club members volunteer to prepare the food for the luncheons.
The Artys’ 18th-century 10-bedroom mansion is set on six and a half acres and includes a 1687 cemetery, a barn and a greenhouse that is being restored.
Jamie and her husband found the long-neglected mansion as they toured the area to find a home. They saw the beauty of the house and took on the challenge of restoring the mansion. She has been doing research on the house and the original owners, Judge William Townsend McCoun and his wife, Emma Jackson, a Townsend family member herself. “There is a cemetery on McCoun’s Lane where the family is buried,” she said.
“In 1923, TR, Jr. lived here. He held a huge homecoming party.” With the house tied to so much Oyster Bay history, it is fitting that Jamie is now president of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. Additionally, “I’ve been on the Raynham Hall Museum board and worked on their last four fundraisers.”
She is one of those helping create a replica 18th-century garden at the museum.
Sallie said, “She gave a great talk on the migratory Monarch butterflies with photographs shown on a TV screen over the fireplace. She also talked on the life cycle of the butterflies. It was a very professional presentation.”
Jamie became passionate about the Monarch butterflies when she read they were put on the endangered species list. “It’s tragic and so mind blowing that it could have been fixed if we stopped using pesticides and herbicides and planted local flowers, including the milkweed plants they need to breed.”
She just returned from an ecological tour to see the Great Monarch Migration in Mexico in person. “The trips are held twice a year, generally in October and November when the Monarchs head south; and in January and February when they head north. I saw them leaving Mexico. It was an amazing image, especially considering how many thousands of miles they have to fly in each direction. There used to be millions of them, 20 to 30 years ago, but the numbers are declining.”
She is planning to pick out the flowers to create a pollinator garden to feed the butterflies with the help of her landscaper.
The LVGC meets at the Locust Valley Library the third Wednesday of the month, at 10 a.m. and includes a program and luncheon (fee $15). For information contact President Dean Yoder at email@example.com. New members are always welcome.