Monday, June 13, 2016

Explore Haskins Preserve with Westport Historical Society

Explore a  hidden gem, Haskins Preserve in Westport with the Westport Historical Society on June 18 at 3 p.m.  is tucked away in a lovely, quiet neighborhood off Compo Rd South. Woods, meadows, 2 ponds, a stream, dams, and a spectacular assortment of rare trees greet you near the entrance. Mr. & Mrs. Haskins, both noted scientists, authors, and philanthropists, left their amazing 22-acre estate in the middle of Westport to the Aspetuck Land Trust. 

Ben Sykes, an arborist with The Care of Trees in Norwalk who will conduct the walk, says the preserve has “quite a nice makeup of trees – mature oaks, an ash, nice yews that most property owners would shear into hedgerows, ginkgoes, nice cypress and lots of native species.”

“With so much new development in Westport, and homes being torn down and the land cleared, we don’t get to appreciate mature trees,” says Sykes, who will discuss the preserve’s trees and also offer tips on tree maintenance, pruning and disease prevention.

The front part of the property consists of mostly open high ground that drops off gently on each side to man-made ponds. Some architectural features remain, including a tall stone wall with iron gates fronting the lane, a romantic wishing well and a canal that feeds the larger of the two ponds. Trails loop around the back of the preserve through a forest of oak and beech. The showpieces are a 108-foot dawn redwood and a 24-foot Southern magnolia. Both are listed as “notable Connecticut trees” by the Connecticut Botanical Society. Other non-native species are a willow leaf oak, a Chinese catalpa, a Japanese hinoki cypress and the ginkgoes. The latter grow wild only in China and individual trees can live as long as 1,500 years.  

Sykes suggests wearing comfortable shoes and sunscreen and urges walkers to be prepared for ticks and poison ivy. The paths are fairly easy to navigate, he says, though some have steep downhill sections.

The walk will be preceded by a 30-minute Qi Gong class given by Sue Gold, the Society’s executive director. Qi Gong, Gold explains means “energy work” and is a practice of simple postures and fluid exercises that help you stay flexible, calm, more centered and more in touch with yourself.

“Tree Walk at the Haskins Preserve,” Saturday, June 18, 3 p.m. There is a $10 donation, and reservations are suggested: (203) 222-1424. Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, across from Town Hall. For more information about the WHS, go to  For more area information

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