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A legacy that grows and grows

Anne Trimble’s legacy continues on at Trimble’s of Corchaug Nursery

Every spring, the North Fork community eagerly anticipates the reopening of Trimble’s of Corchaug Nursery. The cheery botanical center, adorned in rich blues, lively yellows and deep purples, offers more than just plants for sale. It serves as a sanctuary for the community, providing relaxation, education and inspiration to those who come across it.

Visitors who wander along the nursery’s pebbled paths find something unexpected at every turn, from a solar-panel-operated dinosaur statue in the greenhouse to a row of old guitars draped in ivy along the garden fence. Some venture here to explore the vast assortment of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs scattered around the property, while others bring their children to feed the fish in the koi pond. Visitors can also spark their creativity at the nursery’s infamous “idea garden,” where pollinator-friendly flowers are planted alongside repurposed treasures like the garden’s bathtub pond and planted-up outhouse.

For over 30 years, Anne Trimble and Nancy Leskody worked together to build Trimble’s from the ground up.

“I’ve been to many nurseries and I’ve never seen one that looks like ours,” Leskody said, attributing the nursery’s distinct, whimsical spirit to her partner. “That was always Anne — making it a little over the top and unusual.”

The start of the 2023 spring season proved to be a trying time for Leskody. On Dec. 27, less than six months after being diagnosed with cancer, Anne Trimble, age 70, passed away in the home she shared with Leskody on the nursery grounds.

“We always had such a good time doing Trimble’s,” Leskody reflected. “I kept asking myself, ‘how could I do this without her?’”

On April 1, Leskody opened the nursery without Trimble for the first time — but she wasn’t alone. With the support of her staff, as well as her niece and nephew, Allison and Nathan Trimble, she’s been working to keep Trimble’s alive, ensuring the continuation of her partner’s remarkable legacy.

Photography by David Benthal

At its core, the origin of Trimble’s of Corchaug is a love story.

Leskody first met Trimble over four decades ago at The Bayou, her sister’s restaurant in North Bellmore. At the time, Trimble was working as the head gardener for Tavern on the Green in Manhattan and Leskody was a sous chef seeking a life change.

“Meeting Anne was like winning the jackpot,” Leskody said. “She was so positive and affirming — she made me feel limitless.”

As the two grew closer, Trimble taught Leskody everything she knew about horticulture. They dreamed of a future where they could find a place to live and grow plants together. It was in Cutchogue, during a visit to Leskody’s parents, that the couple stumbled across an old nursery for sale. It had seen better days, but the two saw its potential.

In 1991, the couple gathered all of their savings to purchase the property. They named it Trimble’s of Corchaug, honoring the indigenous group that owned the land before Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The property, just a little over four acres, included a guesthouse and home, where Leskody and Trimble would live and later marry, just two months before Trimble’s death.

“When we started off, it was just myself, Anne, my mom and dad,” said Leskody. “They would come in the afternoons and help us put plants into pots in the greenhouse. I stayed at the nursery while Anne went out landscaping so that we could afford to stay here.”

From the very beginning, Trimble’s of Corchaug was embraced by the community.

A pivotal moment, Leskody recalled, was when neighbors took the initiative to knock on her door and welcomed the pair to the neighborhood.

“We were welcomed so warmly to Cutchogue; it really did start off strong,” she said.

Although it might have seemed like a simple gesture, the impact of this kindness was long lasting. On that day, Leskody and Trimble made a promise to be a welcoming force in the community.

Despite the limited funds at their disposal, they were determined to create a warm and inviting atmosphere at Trimble’s.

“We had to be creative,” Leskody explained, recalling the time that she and Trimble had repurposed discarded tiles to build a counter. Trimble would scour reclamation centers and roadsides for free materials and decor, adding to the nursery’s famous funky charm.

“It became a colorful place because of necessity,” said Leskody. “Anne would go to Orlowski’s and they would have a sale paint corner where you could buy paint for like five bucks. She would buy paint and go start painting something just because it was that paint color, whatever it was.”

The two had completely different styles, but they complemented each other — Leskody liked things neat and tidy, while Trimble was more laid back. When Leskody organized the greenhouse or threw something away, Trimble would be right behind her, ready to put the item back or rescue it from the trash.

“I always used to say, ‘Anne, we can’t let it look like a junkyard, we have to put things in a proper place,’ ” she chuckled. “Anne and I had a balance. She would say yes, and I would say no and sometimes we’d meet in the middle.”

Over the years, Trimble built all kinds of innovative sculptures and signs for the nursery, from the wooden birdhouse shrine she created to show her support for local wildlife to the license plate tower that documents the couple’s travels together.

When it came to landscaping, she had the skills to create any kind of garden, though she preferred to add in elements to her designs that were unexpected.

“I have my own style, but I’m heavily influenced by Anne’s playfulness,” said Georgeann Packard, Trimble’s landscape manager. Having worked side by side with Trimble for over 20 years, she’s been leading the landscaping side of the business since Trimble’s passing.

“She taught me so much,” said Packard. “Everybody loved her. With her Rhode Island accent and easygoing manner, she’d talk to anybody at any time.”

“She had a very calm way about her,” added Steve Racanelli, a longtime Trimble’s customer. “It was sort of like seeing an artist painting a landscape.”

True to Trimble and Leskody’s promise, the nursery continues to be a space that welcomes all.

“You don’t have to buy anything to come here. You can have lunch in the garden. You can come and walk around,” said Leskody. “You’re welcome here.”

As visitors pull up to the nursery, they’re greeted by ecology and pride flags raised high. Inside, a chalkboard sign proudly proclaims, “Welcome to Trimble’s Nursery … Home of the Resistas.”

“Anne was very progressive in politics,” Packard explained. “Like nobody I’ve ever met, she lived her life on what she believed in.”

The couple would often donate plants to the community, giving away species needed in the area like oak saplings, which could help to replenish the local ecosystem. Invested in the success of each individual customer, Trimble and Leskody wouldn’t just give a plant to a customer — they’d teach them how to nourish and care for it.

“I think Anne just wanted to make people feel good…that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Allison Trimble

Following Trimble’s death, Leskody and her family received an overwhelming amount of support and love from the community. As a tribute to her, community members brought heartfelt mementos, like a giant metal peace sign, to honor her memory.

“I got letters and cards and emails and all sorts of things saying please keep the nursery open,” said Leskody. She credits Allison and Nathan for convincing her to keep the nursery open. After their Aunt Anne died, they offered to run the business with Leskody, and began commuting to the North Fork every weekend from their home in Rhode Island.

“I was in a very dark place after Anne died, and if Allison and Nathan hadn’t come and helped me, I couldn’t have done this myself,” said Leskody.

“I think it was hard, in the moment of pain with Anne passing, to be here and look out and see all of these things that were so entwined with them together,” said Allison Trimble. “In that moment, it’s hard to look past that and say, ‘Well, all of these reminders are bringing me pain, but in time they might bring me joy again in a different way,’ and that’s the space that Nathan and I are trying to help create for her and for Trimble’s.”

“All of the other people that work here have stepped up and they all do more than their job right now,” added Leskody. “They all kept telling me that they didn’t want to leave Anne’s legacy to her just dying … they wanted to open up and have Trimble’s be alive again.”

Since the nursery’s reopening, Allison and Nathan have made their way to Leskody’s house every Saturday and Sunday morning, ready to talk through the workday over a cup of coffee. As their aunt was primarily responsible for the bookkeeping at Trimble’s, they’ve been helping Leskody with the logistics of running the business. Allison, who is the same age Leskody was when she started Trimble’s, spends each day learning the ins and outs of the nursery with her.

“It’s worked out really good so far,” said Leskody. “Anne taught me everything and now I’m teaching them. It’s just furthering her legacy.” Now, when Leskody tries to tidy up around the greenhouse, it’s Allison who’ll jokingly remind her of the ethos of Trimble’s: putting back the plants in a way that Anne would have wanted.

With Nathan and Allison by her side, Leskody also continues to dream about the future of Trimble’s. “I think there’s some opportunities there for us to further the vision Anne and Nancy had for the place,” Allison explained. Though the family is taking things day by day, they’ve already begun discussing the idea of introducing yoga classes to the nursery and even opening a small coffee bar.

Every year on May 17, Anne’s birthday, the family also plans to give away flowers to customers in her honor. “It’s a way to celebrate her life and show customer appreciation,” explained Leskody. “As a little memento, they can plant it in their gardens and remember Anne.”

While the future is ever changing, one thing remains steadfast: Anne’s spirit will forever continue on at Trimble’s.

“I think Anne just wanted to make people feel good,” added Allison Trimble. “That’s what we’re trying to do here.”