Documenting A 50-Year History

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Franny and Grenville Clark’s home in the early 1920’s. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

The Town of North Hempstead (TONH) recently released a six-minute documentary celebrating the 50-year history of the Clark Botanic Garden, which is located at 193 IU Willets Rd. in Albertson.

“Founded in 1969, the Clark Botanic Garden is a 12-acre living museum and educational facility that is dedicated to understanding and appreciating the world’s plant life through horticulture, education and research,” the garden’s website states. Collections at the garden include native spring wildflowers, conifers, roses, perennials, daylilies, wetland plants, rock garden plants, herbs, butterfly plants, medicinal plants and more.

“This is my backyard. All I have to do is look out the window [to] appreciate every inch of this botanic garden,” said Marion Lowenthal who lives next door.

The documentary was written and produced by Carole Trottere and directed by Alan Ginsberg, the studio director for North Hempstead TV (NHTV). The documentary covers the history of the garden dating back to the early 1920s.

The property began as the private estate of Grenville Clark and his wife, Franny Clark, who moved to Albertson in the early 1920s. Grenville was a Wall Street lawyer and an advisor to the some of the nation’s great leaders. Franny was the garden’s designer and horticulturist. Franny began the garden in the 1920s by transforming a 10-acre section of grass into a lavish area adorned with trees and shrubs.

During the 1960s, the Albertson area began developing and new houses, shopping centers and apartments began populating the area. At that time, town supervisor Saul Locklear wanted to turn the Clark property into a playground for the town. Grenville did not want the property to be permitted for other uses, so he set up a meeting with Locklear and a group of town officials. Grenville took the group to see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He showed them what an asset a suburban botanic garden could bring to the town. In 1966, Locklear permitted the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens acquisition of the Clark property. Many years later, the garden was redesigned with ponds, streams and paths to really enhance the beauty of the area.

Today, the garden features a family garden section, three connecting ponds, an apiary, a rose garden, meditation garden and a Long Island gold medal garden.

“[The] Clark Botanic Garden not only serves as a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, but it also has an important role as a living museum and educational facility,” said town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “Clark and its staff are dedicated to teaching visitors to understand and appreciate the world’s plant life through horticulture, education and research. This wonderful documentary gives viewers a real appreciation of the garden’s place in local history.”

The Clark Botanic Garden is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gift shop is open every day from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission to the garden is free, although monetary donations are appreciated. The Town of North Hempstead is hosting a concert in the garden series every Tuesday during the summer. On July 23, the garden will feature a theatrical production of Cinderella at 7 p.m. Admission is free. The rain date is Thursday, July 25.

For more information about the Clark Botanic Garden, visit www.clarkbotanic.org.

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