Lasdon is vital to research in both the local and national arenas as well, particularly chestnut tree research. Since 1992, when a three-acre grove of rare American chestnut trees was discovered in the arboretum, Westchester County has been working with the American Chestnut Foundation to develop a disease-resistant form of this tree. An additional five acres is dedicated to planting chestnuts collected from around the country to maintain a source of these trees for used in genetic research. In conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Forest Service, Lasdon is also the first site in the lower Hudson Valley for butternut tree research.
The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was a major forest tree species in the Northeast over 100 years ago. It was highly valued for timber, nuts, aesthetics, and wildlife resources. A deadly fungus was accidently brought into this Country and nearly made the tree extinct. For several decades now, scientists have been working on genetic and breeding research to help this tree recover to its natural range.
Here at Lasdon we are growing hundreds of pure American chestnut trees to maintain a healthy gene pool and we have shipped nuts grown from this orchard to many plantations throughout the Northeast and Southeast. We are also field trying a number of trees that may have disease resistance. We are cooperating with the American Chestnut Foundation and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry School at Syracuse University.
Chinese Friendship Garden
In 1997 the County became a sister city with Jinzhou in China. A Chinese delegation came to the park and lived here that summer to construct an ornate pavilion and along with the help of the Parks Department, developed a garden surrounding the pond near the western end of the park. While the pavilion is quite aesthetic it is challenged by climate. Every 5 years or so we must restore much of the paint and wood work at the pavilion.
During Spring and Summer of 2016 Lasdon staff has been restoring the Chinese Pavilion that was given up for dead.
Pete Furu, Chelsea King, Emily Kozlowski, Alina Genovese, Will Riedell, Rob Gach and Louis Antonelli have banded together and replaced the rotted wood, repainted the intricate details, refurbished the tile roof, repaired the cement floors and worked on the landscape – all on a shoestring budget and against the consultants who advised us to tear it down.
Historic Tree Walk
When you aim your smart phone at the icon shown at left will be visible at each stop on the Lasdon Historical Tree Walk. You can acces information about each of the historical trees you encounter. Some interesting tips and techniques about each tree will be available as well as growing features to enhance your walk.
Visit our new Jurassic
Download the “Zappar” app on your smart phone and scan the codes on each sign. Enjoy an interactive travel back in time as you stroll through our newest garden addition.more info
Dr. Craig Hibben, a founding member of the Friends of Lasdon and former plant pathologist at the NY Brooklyn Botanic Garden Research Station, designed and helped plant one of the largest collections of lilac around.
Over 90 species are planted here and the walk is full of purple, white and rose blooms every May.
Lilac, any of about 25 species of fragrant and beautiful northern spring-flowering garden shrubs and small trees constituting the genus Syringa of the family Oleaceae. Lilacs are native to eastern Europe and temperate Asia. Their deep green leaves enhance the attractiveness of the large, oval clusters of colourful blooms. The fruit is a leathery capsule.
The common lilac (S. vulgaris), from southeastern Europe, is widely grown in temperate areas of the world. There are several hundred named varieties with single or double flowers in deep purple, lavender, blue, red, pink, white, and pale, creamy yellow. The common lilac reaches approximately 6 metres (20 feet) and produces many suckers (shoots from the stem or root). It may be grown as a shrub or hedge or, by clearing away the suckers, as a small tree.
Lasdon Memorial Garden
In 2001 Nan Laitman, daughter of William and Mildred Lasdon, made a significant donation to create a 1-acre memorial garden for her parents. The garden is located at the entrance to the Arboretum off the upper parking lot.
This beautiful garden is often used as a background for many formal photographs including wedding photos. The garden is composed of three separate gardens; a fragrance garden, a synoptic shrub border, and a formal garden. The fragrance garden surrounds the two grass ovals inside the entrance gate and features a variety of plants that produce enticing fragrances throughout the growing season. The synoptic shrub border consists of beautiful flowering shrubs arranged alphabetically, A-Z, according to the beginning letter of their genus name. The synoptic shrub border winds along a path that surrounds the formal garden. The formal garden features a stately fountain, and four large circular beds. The circles are planted with colorful, seasonal floral displays of spring tulips, summer annuals, and fall mums. Every year the floral displays change and offer new delights.
Created in 2014 this Monarch Waystation at Lasdon Park will contribute to monarch conservation, an effort that will help assure the preservation of the species and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon.
To help sustain monarch migration, researchers encourage everyone to plant more nectar sources and native milkweeds, which will also benefit other pollinators important for our ecosystem. Plants that bloom throughout the growing season provide energy before and during migration, and give monarchs the required nutrition for reproduction.
Why this is important:
- Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.
- They indicate a wide range of other invertebrates, which comprise over two-thirds of all species.
- Areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other invertebrates. These collectively provide a wide range of environmental benefits, including pollination and natural pest control.
- Moths and butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals (for example, in Britain and Ireland, Blue Tits eat an estimated 50 billion moth caterpillars each year).
- Butterflies and moths support a range of other predators and parasites, many of which are specific to individual species, or groups of species.
- Butterflies have been widely used by ecologists as model organisms to study the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change.
Trail of Honor
The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial at Lasdon is home to four memorials and a museum that honor all Westchester County servicemen and women who have served their country in various branches of military service.
The Veterans Memorial is a pathway, known as The Trail of Honor, and is dedicated to the veterans of Westchester County, from The American Revolution to Desert Storm. On this trail you will walk among the natural surroundings and wildlife featured in Lasdon Park as you journey through our nation’s past. At the entrance to the trail, you are welcomed by the flags of the six branches of the military: the Merchant Marines, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force, arranged by date of organization.
As you proceed on the path into the woods, you will come across a row of bronze busts, all of which sit atop stone cairns, covered with stones from the 44 towns and villages in Westchester. The busts are copied from similar works done by sculptor and veteran Niels Anderson (excluding the War of 1812, made by Barbara Lepak). Anderson placed these originals on display at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Veteran’s hospital, where he himself was treated. Each portrays a soldier from every American war, from the weathered militiaman of the Revolution to the sand-blown tank driver of Desert Storm.
Continue on and you will come upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, you will gradually encounter three large bronze statues and a black obelisk, with the Muscoot Reservoir in full view. The statues feature three figures: two soldiers, one cradling the other in his arms, and a nurse rushing to attend to the wounded soldier.
Inscribed on the obelisk are the 217 names of the soldiers from Westchester who were lost in the Southeast Asia conflict. Nearby is a piece of black granite inscribed with the names of eight nurses that were killed while serving in Vietnam. Surrounding the obelisk is a path made up of 5,900 paving stones, each one representing ten soldiers who were killed in the Vietnam War. As you continue through the woods, another obelisk will present itself. This monument commemorates the veterans of the Korean War, a war that is regrettably forgotten by many, but holds a special place on this trail.
We hope as you continue to the end of the trail and witness each of the fifteen memorials you will remember that our freedom truly is not free. These brave men and women from Westchester paid the ultimate price to ensure the freedom of our great nation, and we owe them our deepest respect and gratitude.