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A More Beautiful Oyster Bay, Inside And Out

An expert’s tips on bringing the

best of your garden into your home

Right now, Oyster Bay is in bloom. From the well-tended gardens of Planting Fields to unmowed patches near the Shu Swamp preserve, flowers are not just beautify our community, they also are calling out to us to bring them inside our homes to add color and fragrance. You don’t hear them? Trust me, the flowers in your garden are even calling you by name.

But don’t just stuff a bouquet in a vase. Make them look as good and last as long as possible. To find out how to do that, as well as how to improve your backyard flora, I asked Scott Lucas, the greenhouse supervisor of Old Westbury Gardens for some advice. He invited to join him in his cutting garden.

Clipper in hand, every Tuesday, Lucas heads to the cutting garden, a 20-by-20-foot plot on the south side of Old Westbury Gardens. Here, he grows the flowers he will use in the floral arrangements that are placed throughout the estate.

In the cutting garden, Lucas grows an assortment of flowers for each season. Because we were there in July, the flowers he had to choose from included sunflower, dahlia, tithonia and rudbeckia. In the spring, he can count on tulips, daffodils, alliums and quince; fall is the time for solidago (golden rod), Montauk daisies, oak leaf hydrangea and Japanese anemone.

While walking around the cutting garden, Lucas offered a few tips on growing. For example, he allows the weeds to thrive around the dahlias to keep away the destructive corn borers that enjoy dining on dahlias.

“The weeds mask the dahlias from the corn borers who don’t know the flower are there,” said Lucas.

Always ready with clippers, he cuts away the side shoots on the stems to send more energy to make flowers. Looking at the sunflowers, he said that he takes the spent flowers and uses them as bird feeders, placing them on top of fence posts for the birds to feast upon.

With buckets full of flowers, we headed back to the kitchen in the house to make the arrangements. Lucas has a variety of vessels that he uses as vases, such as a silver trophy bowl and a soup tureen, and each one has its special place in the house.

To hold the stems in place, Lucas puts chicken wire in the vases. The chicken wire also holds the plants in place when he changes the water. If a vase will be up against a wall, Lucas only needs to arrange the side that is facing the viewer—no need to bother with the back, which will not be seen by anyone. If the display is in the middle of a room and can be viewed from all sides, then an overall symmetry is essential.

But flowers aren’t the only plant material in Lucas’ arrangements. Stems from bushes play an important role, too—they not only serve as a green canvas to highlight the flowers, but also allow him to use fewer flowers and still have something beautiful. He also uses herbs, such as Thai basil and dill. If it’s any shade of green or variegated, it will be considered for the arrangement.

“If you do the green thing correctly, you can cut down the amount of flowers you need by about half,” he said.

Good news for those of us with limited access to freshly cut flowers.

Want to know more? Take a flower-arranging class with Lucas on Thursday, Aug. 14, at 10:30 a.m., and Saturday, Aug. 16, at 10:30 a.m. Advance registration required. The fee is $15, which also includes admission to the grounds and Westbury House. Bring a one-quart container. Call 516-333-0048, ext. 301, or register on-line at www.oldwestburygardens.org.

News

In a little-known chapter of New York City’s history, the name of police officer Phillip Cardillo is spoken in hushed, revered whispers. Though he was tragically killed in the line of duty back in 1972, the burning embers of his memory are still fanned by a passionate few who wish to finally obtain for the fallen hero the elusive recognition that he truly deserves.

At their Oct. 8 meeting in Mineola, the Nassau County-based Association of Retired Police Officers (ARPO) held a heartfelt ceremony, as both Cardillo as well as the driven NYPD detective who has fought for justice in his name for the past four decades, were honored as the true heroes that they are.

In what was their last free meeting at the Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich, the East Norwich Civic Association presented a money saving/energy saving program. It was presented by Marriele Robinson of the Homeowner Support PowerUp Communities group, an outreach of the L.I. Progressive Party. She came to offer free energy evaluations of homes to make them more energy efficient, which will save money.

She said Poor Richard’s Almanac promises it to be very cold this winter, and this is a way to plug up your energy leaks, with both current savings on needed work and through rebates resulting in future savings. After an energy assessment of your home, PowerUp will present you with a report based on their contractor’s assessment, which will outline all the ways you can improve your energy efficiency. The report will include all the potential rebates to reduce the cost of the upgrade which includes the option of financing through PS&G, which will include the monthly payments in your monthly bill.


Sports

A number of awards were given to runners in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich area at the Oct. 18 Oyster Bay Town Supervisor’s 5 Kilometer Run, including 23-year-old Justin Nakrin of Oyster Bay, who finished in 12th place overall and second in the 20-24 age group, and 43-year-old Daniel Valderrama of Oyster Bay, who scored in 17th place overall and second in the 40-44 age group. Maggie Reid of Locust Valley earned first place honors in the 15-19 age group.

The indomitable 81-year-old Nina Jennings of Mill Neck was the oldest woman to finish the run, taking first place honors in the women’s 80-84 age group in 35 minutes, 11 seconds, a pace of 11:19 per mile. She was the fastest of all of the five finishers—male or female—who were 80 years old or more.

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.


Calendar

Ghastly Grounds

Thursday, October 30

Trick Or Treat

Friday, October 31

Long Island Baroque Ensemble

Sunday, November 2



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com