Unveiling of the Jennie Melville garden. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced that the garden on the Jennie Melville Village Green in Stony Brook Village has been unveiled, thanks to PSEG Long Island and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. The garden was originally planted in honor of Jennie Melville in 1948 by the Three Village Garden Club, which she founded. The Three Village Chamber of Commerce was the recipient of a $2,300 Beautification Grant funded by PSEG Long Island. The Chamber selected the Jennie Melville Village Green garden to receive a restoration including various plants, shrubs and flowers.

“PSEG Long Island is pleased to support the efforts of Three Village Chamber of Commerce to create this lovely garden in its shopping district,” said John Keating, manager of Economic and Community Development at PSEG Long Island. “The PSEG Long Island Beautification grant was crafted to help local businesses in downtowns and shopping areas that struggled through the pandemic. We are proud to fund this project that will help increase foot traffic to the area and enhance the shopping experience for everyone who visits.”

Pictured from left,  Jonathan Kornreich, Town of Brookhaven Councilmemeber; Mary Van Tuyl, Trustee, WMHO; Michael Ardolino, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Jane Taylor, Executive Director, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Bill Faulk, Regional Public Affairs Manager, PSEG Long Island; John Keating, Manager of Economic and Community Development, PSEG Long Island; Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman, WMHO; Charles Lefkowitz, President, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Gloria Rocchio, President, WMHO; Carmine Inserra, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Nicole Sarno, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Kathleen Mich, WMHO Trustee; and Charles Napoli, Trustee, WMHO.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation founded in 1939 by businessman and philanthropist Ward Melville. Inspired by his legacy to preserve historic and environmentally sensitive properties, the WMHO continues to protect and interpret these Long Island treasures. The organization creates interdisciplinary educational and cultural experiences that integrate history, art, theater, music, science, and technology for all ages. The organization owns and manages properties deeded to it by Ward Melville, including the Brewster House (c. 1665), the Thompson House (c. 1709), the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c.1751), which are listed on the state and national register for historic places, the Dr. Erwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center, the pristine 88-acre wetlands preserve at West Meadow, the 11-acre T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond and adjacent park, two-acre Upper Pond, and the two-acre Jennie Melville Village Green. To learn more about the WMHO, visit or call (631) 751-2244

Photo from Wang Center

Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook will host a Bonsai Workshop in the Skylight Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Titled The Art of Bonsai, the workshop will be led by Robert Mahler of the Long Island Bonsai Society. Learn how to prune, shape, maintainand repot bonsai trees. This event is free  but registration is required by visiting or by calling 631-632-6353.

WMHO unveils a sensory garden in Stony Brook Village on Sept. 23. Photo from WMHO
Project at Stony Brook Mill Pond Park supported by PSEG Long Island

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced that the newly restored Sensory Garden at the T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park has officially been planted, thanks to a sponsorship of $3,500 from PSEG Long Island. An official  unveiling was held on Sept. 23.

The Sensory Garden was originally created as a place where those who are sensory-impaired could enhance their independence and interact with nature in a special way, over ten years ago. David Seyfert, a Stony Brook resident, visual teacher and mobility instructor assisted in the selection of plants and suggested wind chimes to ensure all visitors could enjoy the park. 

Among the many plants incorporated into the sensory garden are lambs ear and wooly thyme for its texture; lavender, hydrangea and dogwood for its smell; and pink muhly grass, Japanese maple and a collection of hen and chicks for sound.

“Originally, the sensory garden began small — a residential visually impaired woman would come here to smell the flowers, listen to the birds, and sit in peace. Over the years, especially the last few during the pandemic, this park and garden have given that same peace of mind to all of its visitors,” said Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman of the WMHO.

“Thanks to PSEG-LI and the PSEG Foundation, our newly enhanced Sensory Garden can continue to be a place where everyone come to relax, enjoy and find peace. Tropical Storm Isaias caused incredible damage throughout the park in August of 2020. The first phase of restoration was completed in October of 2021. This marks the completion of phase two of the park’s restoration,” said Rugen.

To learn more about the WMHO, visit or call 631-751-2244.

A sign in front of a rain garden at the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood. Facebook photo

By Lisa Scott

On 212 acres in western Suffolk, a small group of women continue to discern how to live authentically so their actions remain consistent with their mission. These are the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ), who in their second century in Brentwood embrace and model sustainable practices bringing them ”into deeper union with the Holy One and the whole community of life.” 

The League of Women Voters recently met with them and toured their campus, and came away inspired and convinced that the Sisters live in a way that seeks “union with God and with the sacred community of life that includes all of creation — air, soil, plants and animals.”

In 1903, the Sisters, relocated from Flushing, NY to Brentwood on land that was originally inhabited by the Secatogue tribe, and established a school on fertile land referred to as “St. Joseph in the Pines.” Old stands of pitch pines, white pines and oak are preserved to this day. Over the years, a boarding school, convent,  chapel and nursing home were built while the surrounding area was developed and densely populated. 

A little more than thirty years ago, the Sisters formed an Earth Matters committee to better respond to the cries of the poor, the cries of Earth. Their mission of unity called for a response to heal a wounded world and dispel the illusion of separation. Through contemplation and study they sought to live with a deeper sense that they are a part of creation and not apart from it. 

Aware of the responsibility we all have for the health of Earth and in particular for the Long Island Bioregion the Sisters worked with the Peconic Land Trust and Suffolk County to preserve parcels of the Brentwood campus and return it to agricultural production — 28 acres of land are leased to several farmers, enabling mowed grass lawn to be restored to farming fields. 

The farmers are only permitted to use organic practices, and there is a farm stand for purchase of produce raised on the campus. SNAP coupons are accepted to encourage access to nutritious options raised locally. Island Harvest Food Bank has worked the land and hopes to harvest 10,000 lbs. of produce in 2022 while the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, an all-volunteer cooperative effort of over 30 non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, nursery professionals, and citizens works to  protect the genetic integrity and heritage of Long Island native plant populations and thus biodiversity from a landscape to genetic level in a greenhouse on the Brentwood grounds. The Sisters also raise chickens for eggs and harvest honey from their beehives, and have established a community sharing table on the grounds.

Waste is a natural aspect of life, so there is a commitment to composting organic materials and thus creating quality soil for agricultural use. Two alternative waste treatment systems have been built: one is a constructed wetland system to reduce nitrogen affecting our bays and waterways, the other designed for the needs of the nursing home to deal with medical waste in an innovative way.

With a strong commitment to clean energy, a 1 megawatt ground mounted solar array with 3192 solar panels was constructed on a 4 acre plot, which provides 63% of the energy used on campus. The ground cover surrounding the solar panels is also environmentally friendly with native meadows and plants attracting bees, butterflies and pollinators, avoiding the degraded land all too common in a solar field.

Native meadows inviting to pollinator insects and birds were planted and bloom throughout most of the summer. Work has been done to create rain gardens near roads and parking areas, to direct water back into the soil where native plants with their extensive long root systems assist with flood control and purify the water before filtering down into the aquifers.

The Sisters also engage in social justice issues and other community needs consistent with the practices of their founders. Their assessment of today is of a world that is bruised and broken from a lack of remembering who we are, where we come from and to whom we belong. We have forgotten that we are a part of one sacred community that began with a small yet potent spark 13.8 billion years ago that continues to connect and evolve our relationships. If healing is to happen for people it needs to happen for the planet as well. For more information, visit

Lisa Scott is president of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit or call 631-862-6860. 

Photo by Elyse Benavides


Elyse Benavidas of Coram snapped this beautiful photo of a false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) one of hundreds of thousands currently in bloom in the Hilltop Meadow at Avalon Nature Preserve in Stony Brook on July 26. The park is open every day except Mondays. Visit

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Pixabay photo

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport hosts Cactus Kids, a workshop for children ages 8 to 12 which introduces junior gardeners to the joys and challenges of raising cacti, on Thursday, July 28 at 1 p.m. Participants will plant a cactus pot, discover how to take care of their specimens, and explore the unique attributes that allow cacti to thrive in hot desert environments. Workshop will take place in the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s “Superintendent’s Cottage,” which is located across the street from the main campus. Plants and workshop materials are included in the price. $35 per child, $25 members. To register, visit or click here.

Chris Hasbrouck shows off a recently picked cucumber from his garden at St. Johnland Nursing Center in Kings Park. Photo from St. Johnland
A hobby turns into a passion

St. Johnland resident Chris Hasbrouck has put his free time into gardening with bountiful results. Sunflowers, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and strawberries fill the raised garden beds outside of Lawrence Hall where Chris resides.

A former stockbroker, Hasbrouck, who is 55, suffered a stroke that left him in need of round-the-clock care. “My father had a vegetable garden, so when I was looking for a hobby, it just seemed like a natural choice,” he said.

Originally from Centerport, Hasbrouck started his gardening obsession 4 years ago and today has a crop of vegetables he shares with nurses and therapists at St. Johnland.

Above, a rock wall in a wildflower garden will be featured in this year's tour. Photo from NHS

By Tara Mae

Step into the serene respite of a restorative stroll through historic gardens and finely curated flora with Northport Historical Society’s annual Summer Splendor Garden Tour on Sunday, July 10.

A self-guided tour of seven unique gardens in Eatons Neck, Northport, Fort Salonga, Asharoken, East Northport, and Greenlawn, this annual fundraiser for the society is one of its most popular events, according to Northport Historical Society Events Director Karol Kutzma. 

One of the gardens in the tour. Photo from NHS

“It’s a joy for the horticulturists of the community. We have carefully selected from some of the most distinguished looking gardens to cover a variety of gardening styles. Every garden is different,” she said.

These privately owned and personally curated plantings include explorations of horticultural artistry, such as an organic farm garden, a modern allusion to Long Island’s agricultural past, and a wildflower garden, carefully expanded over the years, inspired by the famed English gardens. 

The organic farm garden complements herb and pollinator plantings with a vernaculture design for an apiary as well as poultry coops, composting structures, and raised beds. The wildflower garden offers a visual banquet, interspersed with birdbaths and a rock wall. 

Another stop on the tour highlights a garden that was developed by slowly introducing native plants over a 10 year period. Pollinators, birds, insects, and other wildlife recognize the plants and use them for food and shelter. Like many on the tour, it is a deer resistant garden. The property also showcases a pond and rain garden. All of these elements are purposed to benefit the ecosystem. 

One of the gardens featured in the tour. Photo from NHS

Other gardens sport a plethora of shade and sun flowers, annuals and perennials, rose bushes, flowering shrubs, colorful trees, hidden paths, and sitting areas for immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, and natural perfumes. Crafted largely by the homeowners themselves, these gardens reflect different areas of interest. 

“This tour is so much fun because visitors get to explore extraordinary gardens they would not normally have access to and get inspired by the gardener’s creativity,” Northport Historical Society Director Caitlyn Shea said. “I am quite impressed with how the community comes together to support and fundraise for the Historical Society.” 

A few of the gardeners will be available to discuss their inspiration and process. Volunteers will be on site at every location to lead guests through the grounds, some of which also feature historic homes. One of the homes will be partially accessible and have a selection of food, drinks, and raffle tickets ready for purchase.

Each of the gardens will be only open to the public between noon and 4 p.m. Patrons will need to drive to the different stops on the tour and avail themselves of street parking. In order to enter the properties, they must present their tickets, which are actually tour booklets that give driving directions, comprehensive descriptions of the gardens, and other details. 

Interested parties may register for the tour online at Tickets are $35 for members, $45 for nonmembers, and $50 if purchased the day of the tour. 

Patrons may pick up their ticket booklets at the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport on Friday, July 8 or July 9 between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. or after 11 a.m. on July 10. Raffle donations will be accepted through July 5. 

For more information, please call 631-757-9859.