Bluebell, daffodil, hellebore and primrose. These are just a few of the flowers you’ll find this spring at Old Westbury Gardens.
The sprawling grounds — formal gardens, woodlands, ponds and lakes — are now open to the public for exploring. The Westbury House is undergoing construction and slated for a June reopening.
Programming kicks off with a 7 p.m. concert on May 22 featuring Just We Three performing works of Bach, Mozart and Durufle, part of the Poetica Musica Concert series. The second concert in the series will be held on the following Saturday, June 5, with Serenade of Strings performing pieces by Dvorak and Borodin.
Tickets for both concerts, to be held in the Barn area which can accommodate up to 50 people, are available in advance and, in the event of rain, held the next day at 7 p.m., says Paul Hunchak, director of visitor services and public programs for the Gardens.
"All events will be held outdoors, with social distancing and everything following state protocols," says Hunchak.
June 11 to 13 marks "Garden Days" weekend, a new initiative at the Gardens, where vendors from around the Northeast area offer an eclectic mix of horticultural wares.
"They’re really high-quality garden curiosities, and rare plants, and all of that," says Nancy Costopulos, president and CEO . "It’s going to be very distinctive, something you can’t just find anywhere else in the nurseries around."
On June 12, noted lamp designer Christopher Spitzmiller will be on hand to sign his new book, "A Year at Clove Brook Farm: Gardening, Tending Flocks, Keeping Bees, Collecting Antiques, and Entertaining Friends," and on Sunday, June 13, there’ll be garden tours of private homes in Old Westbury and Locust Valley.
"June is one of the most beautiful times for Old Westbury Gardens and for beautiful gardens in our area, too. It’s a perfect time for us to offer these garden tours," says Costopulos.
Step back in time
Step back in time at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a 209-acre re-creation of a mid-19th century American village in Old Bethpage, complete with homes farms and businesses. There, you can take a self-guided two-hour tour and also visit the Museum of American Armor — located on the grounds — which commemorates our nation’s military heritage.
Events at OBVR, which is now open, include Revolutionary War Drill Day on April 17, 1870s Decoration Day, May 29-30, WWII Encampment Weekend, June 12-13 and Mounted Cowboy Shooting Show on April 25 and June 26.
You’ll find a range of natural environments, from the great lawn to the rose garden and Long Island Sound at the 216-acre Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, the former Guggenheim Estate in Sands Point. Take a self-guided outdoor tour of the history of the estate or a self-guided nature tour exploring miles of wooded trails, a freshwater pond and sandy beach.
Special events include guided nature walks on May 8 and June 12, Forest Bathing Walks — meditative sessions in the springtime woods — on April 17, May 22, June 9, and June 19 and North Shore Audubon Society Walks on April 24 and June 5.
Though the manor house is still closed due to COVID-19, there’s plenty to see, including osprey, bald eagle and numerous aquatic birds at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, a 691-acre state park in Great River.
Deeding her estate to New York State, Olivia Bayard Cutting proclaimed, "It would be an oasis of quiet and beauty the public could enjoy," notes director Nelson Sterner, adding that picnics, bicycles and pets are prohibited. "It’s a place where you can come, walk, look at beautiful trees, look at beautiful plants, perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees, wonderful landscape, over a mile of waterfront property on easy paths."
Check the website for updates on events, which will include programs on yoga, horticulture and raising chickens.
Flowers and fauna
The 543-acre Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown features a variety of habitat for hiking, walking, bird-watching, fly fishing, and junior angling (up to age 15) at the trout, perch, sunfish, and bass-filled Willow Pond.
"Because it’s a preserve: no biking, picnicking, things of that nature. It’s really for people to view the flora and fauna from a distance," says Lisa Solina, park manager.
Guided nature programs scheduled for April include Adventure Pack Walk on April 17, for up to 12 kids who’ll get a backpack filled with interesting experiments to do as they walk through the park and the Back in Bloom Walk on April 24, where families can search for a variety of blooming wildflowers.
Old Westbury Gardens, 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury; 516-333-0048, oldwestburygardens.org. Open: Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $14; $12 for students and seniors; $8 for children 7-17: Free for children 6 and under. Tickets for Poetica Musica concerts: $25; $20 for students and seniors.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum, 440 Montauk Highway, Great River; 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com; Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Weekends, $8 per vehicle; starting May 1, $8 per vehicle daily.
Caleb Smith State Park, 581 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, 631-265-1054, parks.ny.gov/parks/calebsmith. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: Weekends, $8 per vehicle; starting Memorial Day, $8 per vehicle daily.
Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road; 516-572-8409; oldbethpagevillagerestoration.org. Open Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: adults $15; seniors and children $12; children 4 and under are free.
Sands Point Preserve, 127 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point; (516) 570-2281, sandspointpreserveconservancy.org. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: $15 per car; walk-in admission: $4 per person. Guided Nature Walks: adults: $15, children: $5. Forest Bathing Walk: $40. Audubon Society Walk: free: preregistration required; call: 516- 570-2185.