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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 Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, Long Islanders taking mass transit may find themselves caught up in the mad dash of the holiday rush. But on the Oyster Bay line, riders are lucky in that they don’t experience the same level of stress over parking as some of the busier lines do.

“The Oyster Bay station never seems to get that crowded, but we’ll see what happens during Thanksgiving holiday when a lot of people come to visit families. I don’t think I’ll have a problem commuting, though,” says Michael Miniero, an Oyster Bay resident who regularly commutes to work on the LIRR.

What better way to celebrate a 100th birthday than by having a new room inauguration filled with local residents, live music and cocktails and scrumptious hors d’oeuvres. That is what happened at the Locust Valley Library Sunday evening, Nov. 9, as the community room was officially renamed the Matinecock Neighborhood Association Community Room. Proceeds from the event went to the restoration of the new room.

Speakers at the centennial celebration included Library Board of Trustees President Charles Brisbane, Library Administrative Director Kathy Smith, Locust Valley Historical Society President Herb Schierhorst and Matinecock Nation Chief Little Running Fox.


Sports

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Calendar

Raingarden Workshop

Wednesday, November 19 & Thursday, November 20

Informative Hospital Talk

November November 20

Opera Night

Sunday, November 23



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