Sea Cliff’s secret gardeners celebrate 60 years of beauty


The sun was shrouded by dense gray clouds, leaving residents to wonder if warmer weather would ever come, as members of Sea Cliff’s Beautification Committee filed into Metropolitan Bistro on April 19 for the group’s annual Spring Mixer. When the event ended, however, guests strolled home under blue skies, the sun illuminating the village’s 18 gloriously green parks.

The committee has worked its magic for 60 years, through year-round prunings and plantings within Sea Cliff’s single square mile. “It’s exciting,” said 15-year member Sue Giordano, a landscape designer by trade. The beauty of the village’s parks, she said, was what drew her to move here in the first place. “We want to see that beauty maintained.”

The organization is run by volunteers who work diligently during the day, usually when Sea Cliff is at its sleepiest, to maintain and enhance the parks. Each spring they commemorate Arbor Day by purchasing a tree to be planted by second-graders, and hold a community plant sale. In the fall they plant thousands of bulbs, and around the holidays they decorate wreaths, a favorite activity of member Marga Crowley.

Crowley has hosted the wreath-decorating operation in her home for 18 years. “It’s a lot of fun to do,” she said. “I put on Christmas music and serve coffee, tea and desserts, and everybody gets into the spirit.”

Another longstanding committee tradition is its Garden Tour, which has been held every other year for the past 20 years. Similar to Sea Cliff’s Holiday House Tour, held every December, the committee identifies the lushest gardens in town to showcase to tour-takers. This year’s tour is scheduled for June 30.

Garden Tour chair Barbara Sinenberg said the committee does more than just maintenance and mulching. “We’ve had beautification presidents that were very instrumental in getting the parks up to snuff,” she said. “Because of them, we were able to get some of the parks redesigned, and have big work done.”

By “big work,” Sinenberg meant the redesign of the village’s Central Park, which included the addition of a playground and walking paths, as well as the installation of the first park sprinkler system in Memorial Park 25 years ago.

“It takes a lot of effort, a lot of maintenance, a lot of planting, a lot of cleanup, but without that the village would be totally different in its appearance,” Giordano said. “It’s important to make our presence known.”

She described the tenacity of the committee’s volunteers over its six decades of work as a “blessing.” “It’s a demanding schedule,” she said, “and we’re so thankful to find people who get out there and continue to beautify the village.”

For Sinenberg, seeing the hard work of the committee come to fruition — through the gardens, the flowers, the trees and the parks — right before residents’ eyes, makes all the effort worth it. “It makes you feel proud,” she said.