Mid Island Dahlia Society maintains the Paul Callahan Dahlia Garden at the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, meeting there Wednesdays at 9am to learn Dahlia culture with other members.

The history of the Dahlia at the Planting Fields dates back to the estate era of the property. Mr. Coe admired dahlias because of their bold texture and rich colors. In the mid 1980's Paul Callahan (left), a dedicated volunteer turned employee reintroduced Dahlias to the Planting Fields. Raised beds were constructed behind the Carriage House in rows to allow patrons to view dahlias in a display setting. This garden was maintained solely by volunteers under his direction. With Paul's unfortunate passing in 1995, efforts were made to redesign a commemorative garden that would embody his passion for Dahlias in a garden setting, while educating the visiting public.

In 1997, construction began on a new garden. Elements of the surrounding hardscape were echoed in the garden so that it would blend into its surroundings.

The garden was designed by Dwight Andrews with input from arboretum staff, MIDS members and Peter Tilles. The goal was to capture dahlias and other great garden plants in more of a garden setting as well as a display setting. Raised beds with stone work and edging in a symmetrical pattern were constructed to accomplish this goal.

The implementation of the design was both labor intensive and costly. The construction of this garden was generously donated by Peter Tilles, trustee of the Planting Fields Foundation, and past president of the Friends of Planting Fields.

In the spring of 1998 the garden was completed and ready for planting. The Mid Island Dahlia Society offered to unconditionally maintain and develop the garden as one of the largest and most spectacular dahlia collections in the Northeast. Under the direction of Steve Nowotarski, MIDS members donate nearly 2000 hours a year of expertise to maintain this garden. Member's plant, prune, stake, fertilize, weed and cultivate over 400 dahlia plants of show and garden quality.

Planting Fields State Historic Park

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York is one of the outstanding public gardens in the United States. This magnificent site is the former estate of W. R. Coe. It is located about 35 miles from the center of New York City on the beautiful North Shore of Long Island also known as the Gold Coast.

In 1918 the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts were hired by Coe to landscape the estate. Coe's love of horticulture and appreciation of rare and unusual plants, in partnership with Olmsted Brother's landscape talent, transformed the estate into a horticultural showplace.
In addition to the many outstanding horticultural exhibits, Planting Fields is the site of the largest Dahlia display garden in the Northeast with over 400 varieties. This garden is maintained by the Mid Island Dahlia Society.

Copyright 2004 Mid Island Dahlia Society