Spring Awakening

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Planting Fields Arboretum (Photo courtesy of Planting Fields)

Spring has officially sprung. Warmer temperatures and sunny days mean more time spent outside, soaking in the natural beauty of Long Island. While it may not be beach season yet, there are plenty of places where locals can get lost amidst blooming buds, towering trees and winding walkways. Check out these local gardens, which are all perfect spots to take a stroll, enjoy a picnic or spend an afternoon welcoming spring.

Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury, 516-333-0048
This sprawling 200-acre garden officially opened for the season on April 2, when visitors can enjoy not only exploring the formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes, but a wide variety of fun activities. There are concerts, family programs, classes, lectures and more, as well as the popular “Dog Days,” when visitors can bring their leashed four-legged friends to the grounds. Flowers in bloom change every month and throughout April and May, visitors to the gardens can behold the beauty of azaleas, bluebells, daffodils, English daisies, lilacs, wisteria and much more. This Long Island gem has been the backdrop for several movies, TV shows and music videos and if it isn’t already, will quickly become a favorite spring spot for you and your family.

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See Dawn Redwoods at Bailey Arboretum. (Photo courtesy of Bailey Arboretum)

Clark Botanic Garden
193 I. U. Willets Rd., Albertson, 516-484-2208
This 12-acre living museum is the perfect place to escape for some peace and serenity. Benches strewn throughout invite you to sit and stay a while, and take in the beauty of the trees and flowers that surround them. Enjoy the sights and smells of the spring wildflowers, conifers, roses, daylilies, wetland plants and herbs as you walk along the paths and small bridges. The garden also features a lovely pond and several small streams.

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Old Westbury Gardens (Photo courtesy of Old Westbury Gardens)

Bailey Arboretum
194 Bayville Rd., Lattingtown, 516-801-1458
This gorgeous 42-acre property is the only accredited arboretum on Long Island and in the New York Metropolitan area, making it a tree lover’s paradise. The site lends itself freely to an afternoon of exploring and relaxation. Stroll through the landscaped gardens and hike the woodland paths. Or, relax with a book on one of the shaded benches, paint by the ponds or enjoy a picnic. The site is home to the world’s largest Dawn Redwood, and these beautiful trees, with their ropy, twisted trunks and sharp silhouettes can be seen throughout the property. Another major perk of Bailey Arboretum is the educational and interactive Munnysunk Hollow, where younger children can explore the building area, music and movement area, messy materials area, nature art area and quiet area.

Muttontown Preserve
25A west of Jericho-Oyster Bay Rd., Muttontown Lane, East Norwich, 516-571-8500
The ruins of a mansion, reptiles and local wildflowers are just some of the things you can see as you explore the 550 acres of fields, woodlands, ponds and estate grounds that make up Muttontown Preserve. The property is Nassau County’s largest nature preserve and a Long Island destination, featuring miles of marked nature trails and numerous animals, as well as the beautiful Chelsea Mansion. There’s lots of hidden treasures here—among the discoveries you’re likely to find are wildlife, ponds and the ruins of King Zog of Albania’s mansion.

Planting Fields Arboretum
1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay, 516-922-9200
Get a taste of the Gatsby-era as you explore the grounds of this former Gold Coast estate. The arboretum is made up of more than 400 acres of greenhouses, sprawling lawns, formal gardens, tree-lined paths and plant collections. Of special note at Planting Fields is their sensory garden, where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy an engaging, multi-sensory experience. Delight in the beauty of the flowers as you listen to wind chimes and birds sing, and smell lavender and lilies wafting through the air. Taste blueberries and thyme as you touch the irises, delosperma and other tactile surfaces. The grounds are beautiful year-round, but come alive in the spring as flowers begin to bloom and leaves return to the trees.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Boulevard and Anton Media Group’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of three PCLI awards.

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