Captain Kidd's Garden at The Bluffs

A Treasure of Beauty on Long Island Sound

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Captain Kidd's treasure today is a beautiful garden ...

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... anchoring the Lordship Bluff's western edge.

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The LIA's garden plan: supported by donations.

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Watch comings and goings at the birds' seaside hotel!

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Memorial benches invite you to relax and enjoy views.

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The garden honors LIA leader Richard Diedrichsen.

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Showing off: Echinacea, or Purple Cone Flower.

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In August, Monarch butterflies arrive and find ...

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...  a treasure trove of nectar. A memorable show!

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A kaleidoscope of nature's colors and textures.

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Thank you,  Emily Viner and Karen Kochiss!

Photos by Karen Kochiss, Charlie Lautier, John Florian and Julie Diedrichsen.

Garden Volunteers: Co-Captains Emily Viner and Karen Kochiss

By Charlie Lautier

At the foot of Lordship Road on Park Boulevard and on the western edge of the Lordship Bluffs sits the beautiful oval-shaped Captain Kidd’s Garden, and its smaller counterpart, the heart-shaped Little Kidd’s Garden, which is located just below it (see LIA Gardens Map).

The latter garden is surrounded by a gently sloping handicapped accessible path. This path in turn connects with the straight main path that leads to Russian Beach.  

The name Captain Kidd - the notorious pirate who plied the East Coast in search of booty - was assigned to this spot by former Lordship Improvement Association (LIA) President Richard Diedrichsen. The garden’s name is based on the legend that Kidd had buried some of his ill-gotten treasure somewhere on the shores of Long Island Sound. What better place than the Lordship Bluffs! 

Note: The buried treasure rumor has deep historical roots. Pirate gold seekers abounded here in the mid- to late 1880s. See more at LordshipHistory.com).

A BEAUTIFUL IDEA

Emily Viner and Karen Kochiss are the current Co-Captains of the garden, which was created by the LIA after the previously wooded area was damaged by three severe weather events - a tornado on June 24, 2010, Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011, and Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.

 

These events heavily damaged the area, but they yielded one benefit: The view of Long Island Sound from Lordship Road was no longer obstructed.

Originally, this garden was created by a landscape gardener from Norwalk, CT to utilize shrubs and plantings native to this coast. Although that concept was beautiful in nature to the area, Emily and Karen had a vision to expand on the beauty of the vista, and took this garden to a new and different level.

 

To the west of the garden is a black metal bench. A brass plaque mounted on the bench has the following inscription: “Gift of the Gelder Family.” The bench faces Long Island Sound and on a clear day one can see the Middleground Lighthouse in the far distance. The lighthouse serves to warn mariners of the treacherous Stratford Shoals.

18-ROOM BIRDHOUSE ‘SEASIDE HOTEL’

The expansive view from this bench wouldn’t be complete without watching the activity of numerous birds that call a nearby martin birdhouse their home.

The birdhouse is mounted on a high pole and located about halfway between the bench and the beach. It was built by Kevin Regan, the current Associate President of the LIA, in the hopes of attracting martins, which are known to be voracious insect catchers - especially of nasty mosquitos.

But another bird species, known as house sparrows, apparently didn’t get the word of its intended use and took possession of the 18-room “seaside hotel” birdhouse, exercising their avian squatters’ rights.

 

It’s fascinating to watch the birds flying back and forth to parts unknown. Sometimes there’s just one bird left perched on top of the birdhouse, presumably assigned to guard duty, just in case intruders show up. This area is also frequented by many native birds. When you see a sunflower in the garden, they most likely planted it.

And it’s not just birds that visitors get to watch. Occasionally a lone rabbit or deer will show up. The density of the shrubs and grasses located just below the garden provide a welcome refuge for these creatures.

FOLLOW THE PATH

At the top of the path leading to the beach is another black metal bench. This one faces the long stretch of the grassy Lordship Bluffs. This bench has a brass plaque mounted on it with the following inscription: “In Loving Memory of Michael Grosso.”

Further down along this path is a third black metal bench located next to a bicycle rack. This bench has a brass plaque mounted on it with the following inscription: “Gift of Brian and Janice Shannon Family.” 

Next to this same path is a pole-mounted plaque dedicated to former LIA President Richard Diedrichsen, in recognition of his invaluable contributions over the years to benefit the Lordship community. The plaque’s inscription:

“Dedicated to Richard Diedrichsen for his commitment, service and leadership to Lordship Improvement Association. Presented to Richard and his wife, Julie, September 14, 2019. Lordship will be forever grateful.”

 

SHOWCASE OF COLORS

With some rearranging of the original garden and planting of many sustainable pollinator-friendly perennials, Emily and Karen have created a showcase of colors from March to October. The flowers and leaves of different shapes, colors, and sizes create a beautiful palette sitting just above the serenity of Long Island Sound.

They started the transformation of Captain Kidd’s Garden in the summer of 2015 and, as any gardener knows, it’s an evolving canvas to the present and the future. And it is an inspiring and meditative place to stop, to reflect and immerse oneself in nature.

The garden is adorned by a multitude of flowers, which bloom at different times of the season. How many flowers? The list is truly enormous, and sets a record for any of the LIA gardens in Lordship. The flowers include:

Tall Phlox, Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan), Echinacea (Cornflowers), Shasta Daisy, Montauk Daisy, Sedum, Hydrangea, Day Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Stella Dora Lilies, Delphinium, Yarrow, Japanese Iris, Evening Primrose, Asters, Columbine, Coreopsis, Sea Grass, Solidago (Golden Rod), Beach Roses, Junipers. Lysimachia  (Alexander}, Asclepias (Butterfly Milkweed), Liatris, Salvia, and Gallardia.

IMPORTANT TO ENVIRONMENT

This garden is 100% perennial plantings and only organically treated, which is an important environmental factor, especially considering the garden’s proximity to Long Island Sound.

This is also an important pollinator garden.

In early summer the butterfly larvae and chrysalis can frequently be seen on the milkweed plantings, creating an amazing Monarch and Swallowtail habitat.

In August, numerous Monarchs busily flit around the flower beds, as if they have found a treasure trove of nectar, which indeed they have. The butterflies create a memorable show.

Yet it’s not just butterflies that are drawn to this nectar oasis. Bees also hop from flower to flower as if on a predetermined route before they return to their hives and share what and where they have found with their unique wiggling dance.

One admires how all these different insects can co-exist, each concentrating on their own little world of foraging.

ENJOY THE BEAUTY

This huge and varied collection of flowers and plantings obviously takes considerable knowledge about what will survive in a coastal environment. Furthermore, Lordship gardens, such as this one, are only possible with the financial support of Lordship residents and volunteer gardeners through LIA memberships.

Emily and Karen are inspired by the promise of spring each year and to determining what Kidd’s and Little Kidd’s might need to further flourish.

They encourage every visitor to enjoy God’s handiwork. It’s that kind of enthusiasm that generates the dedication that Emily and Karen possess for the benefit of all visitors to these gardens.

See also: About the author

 

LOVE GARDENING?

 

Volunteer! Enjoy meeting and working with your neighbors to enhance and preserve Lordship’s beauty. Say hello at LordshipIA@gmail.com.

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And a big thank you to Rich Diedrichsen, stopping with 'grand doggie' Hagrid to chat near Captain Kidd's Garden on Russian Beach.