Stepping Out

Celebrate Mother's Day at Old Westbury Gardens


“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.” – Mitch Albom

Mom — and all those special ladies in our lives — surely deserve a specialday. The cards, her favorite treats, a colorful bouquet, are certainly welcome. Best yet, surround her with flowers and spring’s glorious blossoms.
Old Westbury Gardens is an enchanting locale to do so on Mother’s Day.

Stroll the 200 glorious acres of wooded walks and those amazing gardens with their display of vibrant spring color. Explore Westbury House, the estate’s grand Charles II-style mansion, filled with art and furnishings. Pack some lunch for a delightful picnic among spring’s many blooms, or enjoy a bite at the Café in the Woods.

The iconic site’s 65th anniversary season rolls along with all sorts of activities ahead. But, for now, mom will surely enjoy savoring some moments among spring’s colors and scents. Perhaps more so than at any time of the year, Mother’s Day — for most people — is all about the flowers when visiting this grand estate.

“We’re nearing peak season now,” says Old Westbury Gardens president Maura Brush. “As the season goes along, the highlight is the formal gardens. Starting in May is when you really see people spending more time in the Walled Garden and up around Westbury House where the wisteria blooms.”

The array of blooms bursting forth extends throughout the landscape.

“The display in the Walled Garden is really high-impact now,” Brush enthuses. “There’s plenty to take in there.”

Brush is especially fond of the tree peonies. These blooms can be eight inches across 40 blossoms in size.

“The tree peonies are just not to be missed,” she says. “They are stunning, looking like crushed tissue. The texture and color are outstanding.”

Yet, of course, the tulips remain a favorite. Seeing the tulips here by the many hundreds — in the Walled Garden and Thatched Cottage Garden and elsewhere in myriad varieties in a rainbow of colors — is described by Brush as breathtaking. Much care is put into creatively designing the colorful tulip arrangements, for dramatic appeal.

“We spend so much time curating our bulb display,” Bush says. “You can go anywhere and see a row of tulips. We’re always excited about our display as it’s unlike what you’ll see elsewhere.”

Also, visitors might want to consider checking out the refurbished Westbury House, the former home of financier John S. Phipps, his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps, and their four children. Guided tours are available throughout the day (no registration required), at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. A garden highlights tour is also offered at 2 p.m., meeting at West Porch Beech next to Westbury House.

“I don’t think Westbury House has looked better since I’ve been here,” Brush says. “We’ve had volunteers working all winter long on cleaning and polishing. It feels like there’s a lot of new life. We’ve got some wonderful new people working up in our archives, so it’s been really fun seeing photos of what the house looked like when the family was here, and putting together some of those pieces of the puzzle that we haven’t had before.”

Gleaming and restored back to its days when it was a family home, Westbury House is surely a sight to behold among the blooming gardens.

As always — as an added treat, while supplies last — every adult woman receives a complimentary lavender plant. Be sure to stop by the plant shop to get yours.