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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

With a general discontent about the view-blocking pedestrian railings recently installed along West Shore Road, the discussion at the Oyster Bay Civic Association meeting on Sept. 18 focused on the possibility of having the road designated as a scenic highway.

This concept was suggested by Gregory Druhak of Centre Island, a regular traveler along West Shore Road, who said, “I believe this is the most scenic drive on Long Island west of the Hamptons, perhaps on all of Long Island itself, and it is not being treated as such. I feel we are being given the Lefferts Boulevard [down by JFK airport] expressway extension instead. For all you can see, it might as well be the Belt Parkway below the fence instead of Oyster Bay. This is wrong.”  

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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