Interpretive signage for the native trees volunteers planted in the new Native Plant Garden in the Manorhaven Nature Preserve.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” Kahil Gebran

Nassau County’s location on Long Island and Port Washington’s location in Nassau County.

According to a 2017 article on the blog Patch: Port Washington, Long Island edition, the Native Plant Garden in Manorhaven Nature Preserve was a project initiated in 2017 by Nassau County Master Gardener Pat Valente and realized with the help of many fellow volunteers. To date, the community has planted more than 1000 native plants, including eighteen species of Long Island native trees, in the Preserve. 

Manorhaven Nature Preserve Native Plant Garden volunteers on a planting day in 2017, including many CCE-Nassau Master Gardeners.

Pat explains:

“The Preserve was a largely neglected and underutilized waterfront nature park in one of the most densely populated areas in Port Washington, a peninsula on the North Shore of Long Island. The Preserve, even in its state of neglect, was a bird habitat. After use as a transfer station, it was purchased by the Village of Manorhaven in 1993 and left idle for many years. The property is bordered by commercial properties, Sheets Creek, and Manorhaven Beach Park and is an ideal location for visitors to view and be educated about the benefits of the native plants that once thrived in the area.”

Monarch butterfly in the new Native Plant Garden at Manorhaven Nature Preserve.

This effort comes under the aegis of the Native Greenway project. Native Greenway Corp. was created to support conservation science education and to restore the Manorhaven Preserve to a wooded sanctuary for native plants, birds, and other beneficial species.

From a 2019 planting day: Center front row – NYS Senator Anna Kaplan, Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena, and NYS Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso. Also pictured are Village of Manorhaven Trustee Rita DiLucia, Master Gardener David Cohen, and Native Greenway’s Pat Valente and Marie Suchan.

Pat continues:

“The real story is how the restoration has grown through the work of many volunteers, commitment of funds from assorted charities and support from the Village Board and expertise of CCE-Nassau and the environmental project management firm, Nelson, Pope & Voorhees (NPV). Most recently, with guidance from CCE-Nassau Horticulture and Urban Forestry Educator Vincent Drzewucki, the Village of Manorhaven received an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA designation. Reinforcing this commitment, local 501(c)(3)s (Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation, Native Greenway) with the guidance of NPV Landscape Ecologist Rusty Schmidt, added 50 Long Island native trees to the Manorhaven Preserve.

All of this could not have been accomplished without the continued support of Mayor Jim Avena, who has been an ally in each stage of the restoration. Under his direction, the Village applied for and was recently awarded a grant to restore the nature paths along Sheets Creek, which is well situated to continue the walk along the shoreline of the peninsula. In keeping with Tree City designation, the Mayor recently announced a new street tree project.”

Plans for the addition of 30 more native trees and educational signage in April 2020 had to be delayed; however, Master Gardeners Pat Valente (left) and Kathy Gaffney were able to plant an Arbor Day tree, a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), while practicing social distancing.

We are looking forward to following the progress of this community-driven project that is creating and sustaining beneficial, biodiversity-enhancing habitat on Long Island’s North Shore.?