Monday, September 24, 2007

Field Trip: Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens
Old Westbury, New York

As a spirited and overly-imaginative child visiting Old Westbury Gardens, as we did every Mother's Day, I was captivated by The House. The Ghost Walk. The pet cemetery. The children's play cottage. The land and secret gardens. Captivated in a way that stuck with me as I visited other gardens around the world. And found that nothing compared to Old Westbury and the hold it had on my heart.

As a grown-up infatuated with gardens, during last week's visit, my attention turned more to the horticultural feats that Old Westbury achieved and maintains. Noting (among many others distractions) that in the middle of September, the Walled Garden was still packed with color and blossoms. Asters, zinnias, cleomes, salvia, roses. Gasp, gasp, gasp!

But at the end of the day, I could not go without a peek into the cottage and a tromp down the most curious spot of all - the Ghost Walk.

If you live within two hours of Old Westbury - GO. Pack a picnic. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to look, sit, take it all in. Benches are located all around the grounds - and this is no accident. After all, there are 88 acres of formal gardens. Certainly nothing to sniff at . . .

For the serious-minded gardeners, there is the Walled Garden, the Boxwood Garden, the Grey Garden, the Rose and Lilac Garden and a myriad of display gardens. A lake walk. A grotto-type structure that overlooks a pool - complete with seashell mosaics. And, for the absolute plant-nerd in all of us, carefully placed placards for each and every plant and tree.

Or simply find your inner child and discover the Ghost Walk for yourself. Maybe, just maybe, if you go on Mother's Day, you'll see the specter of a mischievous little girl in long braids. Out of breath and laughing while terrorizing and spooking her younger brothers amid the hemlocks and the shade. Enchanted and engulfed by the magic of these wonderful gardens.

Pond in the Walled Garden

The Walled Garden

Climbing rose in the Rose Garden

Salvia and dahlias in the Walled Garden


Fountain in the Walled Garden

Asters in the Walled Garden

Cleome and trellis in the Walled Garden



The Estate at Old Westbury Gardens


Gate ironwork


The children's play cottage


Primrose Path

The Ghost Walk!


The Boxwood Gardens

3 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

That looks like a special place. Your shots of the rose arbor and the Ghost Walk really draw you in. I'd love to walk those paths in person.

Tracey said...

Thanks so much, Pam. I don't think I truly did them justice through the photos - so if you are every on Long Island, make the trip!

Steph said...

Oh my! I really, really want to go there! Your pictures are so enticing. And since you turned us on the the Green Knowe series, I know we would especially enjoy it!

You are the source of so much good stuff!