It seems that before I leave my Long Island home to start a new life in Maine, I have a desire to visit places that I have never been to during my 55 plus years of living here. As a result, I took the opportunity on a recent sunny weekend to explore Old Westbury Gardens. It seemed an appropriate time to change my routine from rambling through wooded preserves to wandering around a formal garden.
Old Westbury Gardens is one of the former “Gold Coast Estates” of Long Island; estates that were owned by names like Post, Vanderbilt, DuPont, and Coe. Places that bring to mind lavish parties and scenes of The Great Gatsby. The Phipps Estate, now known as Old Westbury Gardens was built in 1906 and surrounded by a variety of gardens; from a Rose Arbor to a walled garden. The gardens were open to the public in 1959.
I began my visit by heading towards the mansion but since my interest was in the gardens I walked around this grand home to get my first view of the grounds from the veranda. From this vantage point I could see a pond below me with an interesting platform floating a little ways from the edge. I wondered what fantasy created this little barge.
After admiring the view for a short time, I descended the steps towards the pond and wandered along the path leading around this body of water. Some of the trees I passed along the way were beginning to show signs of summer’s end. The Rose-of Sharon however, was still in bloom.
On the far side of the pond, I took advantage of a shaded bench to watch a flock of geese resting by the water. Once rested myself, I followed the path into the Walled Garden. Here the display was breathtaking. The burst of colors occupying this space even invited the bees to pause. I spent quite a bit of time trying to remember the names of the different blossoms, including a rather unique flower pictured in this post, but alas the titles flitted through my feeble brain and were gone!
From this formal garden I made my way through a shaded walkway (the Ghost Walk perhaps?). Eventually, the path deposited me into the Rose Garden but here the blooms were looking a little worn around the edges in anticipation of the changing weather. I was surprised by the absence of color in the Rose Garden. There were few yellows, whites or orange-tinted hues; pink seemed to be the color of choice.
Leaving the Rose Garden, I saw a small Thatched Cottage. Deciding to explore a bit, I took the path towards this little house to peek inside. Here I discovered that this dwelling that would probably house most of us quite comfortably was actually a child’s playroom. Peering in the window, I could see small doll beds, a dollhouse and a child-sized table and chairs. The outside of this cottage was decorated with its own garden.
I finished my tour after a stimulating two hours of touring a small portion of the grounds at Old Westbury Gardens.