The two-acre Wildflower Island, a refuge within the greater Teatown preserve, is home to roughly 280 species of wildflowers, trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, and rushes.
Visiting the Island from April through September offers the experience to enjoy the ever-changing display of colorful blooms and rich natural fragrances. Learn from the expertise of our Volunteer Guides as they lead you through this unique sanctuary’s winding trails. Each season reveals nature’s many wonders of the moment and offers a special glimpse of the timing of the plants from bud to flower to fruit.
Visit Wildflower Island
Due to the importance of preserving this delicate sanctuary, the Island is only accessible by guided tour. Tours are presented by experienced docents and last approximately one hour.
May – September
Reservations are required – please visit our event page for details. For adults only.
$10 members / $15 non-members – Limited to 6 adults/tour.
Heavy rain cancels.
Tours will meet in the Visitor Center at the front desk.
Private tours on weekdays can be arranged for groups. Please contact Emily Edmonds-Langham at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Open Gate Day Curator Chats
Join Wildflower Island Curator Mathew McDowell for a series of seasonal talks. He will spotlight currently blooming species, share botanical and ecological information of interest, and discuss the history of Wildflower Island. Take your new knowledge for a spin during Open Gate Day, while the Island is free to access.
Reservations required. Adults only.
Tour dates for 2024 will be announced in the spring.
Open Gate Days
The gates of Wildflower Island are open from 11 am to 1 pm—come stroll the winding paths and enjoy the beauty of Teatown Lake from a different perspective.
Guides will be stationed in the Gatehouse and along the trails to answer questions about the flowers in bloom. Please no children under 10 and no dogs. Free to attend.
Open Gate Days for 2024 will be announced in the spring.
The Island’s History
Wildflower Island did not begin intentionally. In 1924, Gerard Swope, Sr. dammed Bailey Brook to create what has become Teatown’s most iconic lake, leaving an elevated knoll of land above the water line. This “island” has remained isolated from the Teatown “mainland” ever since. In 1970, Warren Balgooyen, Teatown’s first naturalist, landed a canoe on the island and discovered “a treasure chest of floral jewels.” He and Marjorie Swope began to cultivate the island garden, and Jane Darby became the first Wildflower Island curator.
Teatown’s preserve faces rising pressures from deer browsing, invasive species, and other disturbances that threatened once-common woodland wildflowers like lady’s slipper orchids, trillium, and wild columbine. But Wildflower Island– virtually inaccessible to deer and less vulnerable to invasives – has become a sanctuary for such species, some of which were transplanted from the larger preserve to ensure their survival. Recent years have seen a dramatic decline of many native wildflowers in our woodlands, leaving Wildflower Island to represent the forest that once was.
Conservation of Wildflowers
Wildflowers and all other species of flowering plants in our forests, meadows, swamps, and lakes are incredibly important for our region. They provide food for pollinators and other organisms, are host plants for insect larvae, and provide shelter for animals. As an added bonus, their vibrant colors and unique flower structures are wonderful viewing experience for visitors.
Many of the wildflowers native to our region are now under extreme duress due to the cumulative effects of human development, invasive species, and overabundant deer populations. The impact of these threats are clear: many of the species on the island can no longer be found in local forests. Land managers and scientists are currently working to mitigate these threats, and sanctuaries like Wildflower Island are essential demonstrations of what a healthy forest looks like.
Visitors can also enjoy the Fern Walk, a corner of the island where a number of these plants flourish in the shade, and a small swampy area, home to several kinds of graminoids and wildflowers that like to get their feet wet.
A Walk in the Woods
with Leah Kennell
Join Leah Kennell, Curator Emerita of Wildflower Island, as she shares stories about some of the spectacular wildflowers on the island.