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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

Serving Oyster Bay and the rest of Long Island since 1990, Periwinkles is an Oyster Bay business on Audrey Avenue that assists with event planning, staging and staffing and catering a multitude of different events. Periwinkles was started by Pat Spafford, who was encouraged to take her passion and make it a career.

 

“I was raising a family and doing this part-time,” said Spafford. “One of my clients encouraged me to make it full-time. Most of my clientele was from Oyster Bay so I settled here. I have a huge affection for the people and the place. It’s great that I have been successful here for so long.” 

On Sunday, Sept. 21, the only place to be for lovers of local music is the Homestead in Oyster Bay, where a full day of live music is planned at GlenFest featuring 25 different performances. The lineup includes big names like Richie Cannata to Sea Cliff mainstays Kris Rice and Chicken Head to up-and-comers like Matt Grabowski and Lisa Vetrone.

 

GlenFest is the brainchild of Dave Losee, 53, of Glen Cove, who plays in the Crosstown Blues Band.

 

“I had this idea for a festival years ago, and when I finally nailed down a date, people are coming out of the woodwork to be a part of it,” says Losee.


Sports

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.

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.


Calendar

MSA Party - September 17

West Shore Rd. Update - September 18

Harbor Beach Cleanup - September 20


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