Robin Hill in Lyndonville hosts Summer Solstice Soiree
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent
LYNDONVILLE – Picture peaceful grounds, hundreds of rare plants and trees, a sunlit afternoon and soft music coming from the shade and you have the setting for Wednesday’s Summer Solstice Soiree at Robin Hill Estate.
This is the second year for the event, sponsored by the Cobblestone Society, and the first time it was held at Robin Hill Nature Preserve, the 40-acre Lyndonville estate of the late Will Smith.
After a very successful event last year in the gardens of Leroy and Shirley Neeper of Medina, the Cobblestone Society decided to have this year’s garden party at Robin Hill, which proved to be a perfect location with its collection of trees, shrubs and flowers.
Half dozen or so vendors were scattered among the trees, including artists, crafters, photographers and others.
A table in the midst of it all was full of hors d’oeuvres and samplings of wine, while in the shade of nearby trees, Mike Grammatico of Batavia, a former Albion music teacher, played the saxophone.
Beth Gee Carpenter of Lyndonville had a booth with her photographs, artwork, postcards and note pads.
“I’m always looking for new venues to sell my work,” she said. “I come here to take pictures and it’s wonderful to be able to take part in an event like this in my local community.”
Robin Hill was developed by Will Smith, the founder of Lyndonville Canning Company. He and his wife Mary, son George and daughter Marion designed and built the manor house of Medina sandstone. They were enthusiastic bird watchers and mushroom hunters, and Marion banded Monarch butterflies for years.
Will and Mary were traveling in northern Pennsylvania one spring in the 1940s when they saw hillsides full of shad trees in blossom north of Williamsport. Will spotted one tree with pink flowers in the midst of the white ones, climbed the hill and took cuttings of the pink shad.
The first of Robin Hill’s shads are planted to the north and south of the manor house. They thrive in urban environments and can be trimmed to bush size or allowed to grow tall. They are even farmed for their berries in Canada .
Over the years, Smith’s plantings would become famous, such as the Dawn Redwood, the prehistoric ancestor of the Giant Sequoia.
Three such redwoods at Robin Hill are offshoots of a stand of Dawn Redwoods, estimated to be 6,000 years old, which was discovered in Mongolia in early 1930. One of its discoverers was a friend of Smith’s and sent Will a cone with some seeds. Thanks to the fertile conditions of the Lake Plains, three of these redwoods thrive at Robin Hill, along with some contemporary sequoias.
The 80-foot tall Dawn Redwood next to the North Pond on the estate is thought to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere .
Today, Robin Hill is the home of Doug and Valerie Pratt, son and granddaughter of Larry and Charlotte Smith Pratt.
Other trees and shrubs include linden, a Gingko tree, a Franklinia bush, sycamores, beech, witch hazel, Carolina silverbell, Japanese Umbrella pine, a multi-trunk European larch and Japanese maples.
The grounds are available for weddings, photography and other events – to anyone who loves and respects nature.
With this successful event over, the Cobblestone Society is moving forward with plans for its next fundraiser, the annual Historic Trades Fair on June 30.