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Walk and Gawk: Private Westchester Gardens Open for a Day

Springtime in Westchester is magical for plant lovers. But even more amazing than the blooms is the fact that a number of Westchester’s absolutely gorgeous private gardens actually will be open to the public starting this weekend.

The public visits are organized by the Garden Conservancy, a national, nonprofit membership group based in Cold Spring, New York, and headed by Tarrytown executive Jenny Young du Pont.

This weekend on April 28,  Shelby White opens her Lewisboro garden with more than 200,000 woodland daffodils in bloom.  The White Gardens,  completed in 1999, are both classical–with a nymphaeum, pergola garden, and labyrinth among other features– and Asian-inspired.  Head gardener Eric Schmidt, will be available for questions.

Among the other fabulous Westchester gardens that participate in the program is the seven-acre Bedford Hills estate of Phillis Warden pictured here. The garden features perennial borders, water gardens, a formal croquet court, marshlands, woodland walks, and more.

On May 5 and June 2, the North Salem garden “Duck Hill,” created by garden writer Page Dickey and Francis Schell, will be open for visits. The Conservancy’s website notes that you can see several “hedged-in gardens surround the nineteenth-century farmhouse at Duck Hill, including an herb garden, a white garden and a crabapple courtyard. There is also a woodland walk, a small meadow, a lap pool with a rose pergola, and a vegetable/cutting garden with a Greek Revival-style chicken house, as described in Page Dickey’s books Embroidered Ground and Duck Hill Journal.”

Also on May 5, the famous fifty-five acre estate of Judy and Michael Steinhardt, with more than 2,000 species of trees, shrubs, and perennials, will be open for jaw-dropping views. It features an extensive Japanese maple garden, as well as countless horticultural gems.

Since 1995, Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program has given the public easy access to some of Westchester’s finest private gardens. Thousands of visitors  have been able to discover beautiful spaces not normally open to the public simply by paying just a $5 admission fee for each garden.

You can sign up for email notices on upcoming open days here, get driving directions, and learn more.


Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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