If you’re heavy into flora, then Verderber’s Landscape Nursery & Garden Center in Aquebogue is a must-visit on the North Fork. It’s a place of sheer enjoyment this time of year — a Great Adventure or Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom for plant lovers.
They haven’t quite developed their park map yet, and you won’t find anyone hawking cotton candy or frozen lemonade drinks along the walking paths at Verderber’s.
What you will find is a friendly staff offering up a hot cup of Keurigbrewed coffee on a cool spring morning — and every species of plant, shrub or tree that’s trendy and, more important, plantable here on Long Island.
While the nursery and garden center, owned by Maria and John Verderber Sr., focuses on the wholesale and landscaping aspects of the business, its retail operation fronting Main Road is what most visitors to farm country stumble onto first as they arrive on the North Fork. There, they discover the mazes of different plant life and rows of green, red, yellow and blue that stretch to the south, all the way to Hubbard Avenue near the bay.
“We get a lot of people coming in here looking for directions, then once they see the place and see how beautiful it is, well, word of mouth spreads,” says longtime employee Noreen Ficuciello, the nursery’s general manager. “It’s become a place that people just love, and rightly so. It’s like a kingdom.”
And just as in the famous animated introduction to HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones,” she says, “Something else is always popping up” in the kingdom.
What popped up this past fall into winter was a massive gazebo made of locust and cedar branches, complete with an outdoor fireplace, built atop a man-made hill on the property. From there you can scope out, among countless other things, the tall fagus sylvatica “red obelisk” trees that go for $10,000 a pop; $15,000 with installation.
“This is in the Hamptons all over the place,” Ficuciello said of the trees, which are popular on the South Fork. “They gotta have it.”
Check out these photos by Barbaraellen Koch to see what else you can find at Verderber’s.