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LifestyleRecreationOutdoors

Old Westbury Gardens and other LI places to take a spring stroll

Magnolias, tulips and more signs of warmer weather ahead.

Violas are an early-season flower on the grounds

Violas are an early-season flower on the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens. Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Spring renews — both in spirit and in the dirt. Spend some time this weekend with sunshine (hopefully) and flowers at these stroll-worthy public gardens with added attractions such as historic houses and a memorial to Anne Frank.

Old Westbury Gardens

INFO 516-333-0048, oldwestburygardens.org

ADMISSION $7-$12 (free ages 6 and younger)

Old Westbury Gardens opens for its 60th season on Friday, April 19, boasting early spring blooms the likes of which have been part of the former Gold Coast estate’s botanical history for more than a century. This is the season the Phipps family, which lived there beginning in 1906, spent most of their time at the property. So, “we have things that were planted to give interest as early as possible,” says horticulture director Maura Brush. The 200-acre public gardens are currently ablaze with flowering cherry dogwoods, yellow daffodils and pink, red and purple buds along the Primrose Path.

ADDED ATTRACTION Visitors can also stop at the estate’s architectural centerpiece: the Phipps’ Charles II-style mansion, Westbury House, where a number of Hollywood movies have been filmed including "Love Story" (1970).

Arboretum Park, Melville

INFO 631-351-3000

ADMISSION Free

The flowering trees and shrubs at this small Town of Huntington park include boxwood, rhododendron, hydrangea, dogwood and viburnum.

ADDED ATTRACTION The Anne Frank Memorial Garden — Frank, who would have turned 90 this year, is remembered with quotes from her famous diary along a park pathway. The path ends at a sculpture of what Frank’s wedding dress might have looked like had she survived the war.

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park, Great River

INFO 631-277-3895, bayardcuttingarboretum.com

ADMISSION $8 per vehicle weekends only through Memorial Day

About 15 to 20 magnolia varieties are currently blooming throughout the park’s scenic 691 acres on the Connetquot River, according to arboretum director Nelson Sterner. For a splash of spring color, daffodils and crocuses have been planted along the entrance road. Notable spring blooms include butter cup winterhazel shrubs with a “very subtle yellow flower,” Sterner says.

ADDED ATTRACTION Tour the Manor House, where William Bayard Cutting and his family resided during Long Island’s estate era. Then sit down at the Hidden Oak Cafe for a sandwich and pie lunch with a view of the Great Lawn.

Bridge Gardens, Bridgehampton

INFO 631-283-3195, peconiclandtrust.org

ADMISSION Free

The five-acre garden was donated a decade ago to the Peconic Land Trust. Early spring blooms include tete-a-tete miniature daffodils, purple crocus and a witch hazel tree with orange flowers, says Kathy Kennedy, the trust’s senior outreach manager.

ADDED ATTRACTION The Herb Garden is a separate patch planted with culinary and medicinal plants.

Clark Botanic Garden, Albertson

INFO 516-484-2208, clarkbotanic.org

ADMISSION Free

Shoots from 5,000 planted tulip bulbs have begun to “peek out of the ground,” at the 12-acre Town of North Hempstead park, says town horticulturalist Bonnie Klein. Stroll amid the blossoming cherry trees, recently opened yellow magnolias and budding pink camellias.

MORE TO SEE The Clark Garden gift shop sells works by Long Island artists, pottery, beeswax candles and other crafts items.

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay

INFO 516-922-8600, plantingfields.org

ADMISSION $8 per vehicle weekends only through Memorial Day

Magnolias are the star attraction on 400 acres of rolling lawns, gardens and woodlands. The royal star, Leonard Messel and pyramid-shaped Wada’s Memory magnolia blooms are “quite spectacular now,” says park director Vincent Simeone.

ADDED ATTRACTION The Sensory Garden, a section of the arboretum dedicated to multisensory experiences is ablaze with forsythias, and early blooming Korean rhododendrons and Okame cherry trees.

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