Westchester’s Garden Culture in Bloom

Who wants to stop at just smelling the roses? This summer, there’s more going on in nearby gardens than ever before.

The walled Persian garden at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers is patterned after the original Garden of Eden—but this one has more music.

When you think of a garden visit, you probably picture a stroll along a quiet path, a stop at a fountain or some other interesting sculpture—and that’s about it. It may be time to adjust your mental picture. This summer, local gardens are filled with more than just blossoms. Head to these gardens for music, art, theater, and even a yoga class.

Boscobel House and Gardens

Garrison, NY

(845) 265-3638; www.boscobel.org

Procrastinators still have time to hop over to Garrison to visit Boscobel for this year’s Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. After picnicking on the 60-acre property—where you can find a formal rose garden, a fragrant herb garden, and an overlook with one of the best views of the Hudson River—head to the onsite tent for one of the festival’s three concurrent productions: Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, or The Liar. But you’d better snap up your tickets quickly, because the festival ends on August 31. For tickets to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, visit www.hvshakespeare.org

Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts


(914) 232-5035; www.caramoor.org

Gardens, visual art, and music all come together for the In the Garden of Sonic Delights exhibition, running through November 2. Fifteen artists worked on site-specific sound installations, creating works such as solar instruments that respond to the amount of sunlight on any given day, or a house made out of self-playing pianos. Many of these installations can be heard throughout Caramoor’s various gardens—which are gorgeous in their own right—but they’ve found their way to other cultural institutions as well, including the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, the Jacob Burns Film Center, Lyndhurst, the Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. At Caramoor, the gardens are open from Thursday to Sunday, and keep your eyes peeled for special tours and events.

Moonviewing concert at Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden

Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden

North Salem

(914) 669-5033; www.hammondmuseum.org

The garden at the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden is known to inspire a Zen-like sense of calm—and, with a tea garden, lily pond, and fragrant katsura trees, why wouldn’t it?—but that doesn’t mean it can’t liven things up every once in a while. On August 1, the garden hosts the 12-piece Norm Hathaway Moonlight Swing Band, who will play for visitors Lindy-Hopping into the night. Then, on August 9, Hammond presents a Moonviewing Concert, which will see the garden illuminated by paper lanterns. 

Lasdon Park, Arboretum, and Veteran’s Memorial


 (914) 864-7263; www.lasdonpark.org

Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to Lasdon Park for its annual Music in the Park series, which hosts the jazz and contemporary song stylings of Jon Doty and Friends on August 22. If you feel like having dinner or snacks alfresco, the park has hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream, beer, and other summertime favorites available for purchase. The concert starts at 6:30 pm, but we recommend going early-—gates open at 5:30 pm—so you have a chance to check out the Chinese Garden, Historic Tree Walk, Memorial Garden, and other flora before the entertainment starts.

Dawn at Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden

Millbrook, NY

(845) 677-8000; www.innisfreegarden.org

The 150-acre Innisfree Garden in nearby Dutchess County—named after a line from a Yeats poem—often flies under-the-radar, but it’s stunning nonetheless. Artist Walter Beck worked with landscape designer Lester Collins to create the garden based on a mix of Modernist ideas and traditional Chinese and Japanese garden-design principles. On August 16, though, you’ll be the one creating the art: The Morning Light at Innisfree event opens the gardens an hour before sunrise for artists and photographers who want to capture it during the magic light of dawn. (Visitors with no artistic ability just looking for a beautiful sunrise are welcome, too.) At this time of year, the garden is filled with lotus, water lilies, and mallows.

Untermyer Gardens


(914) 512-4818; www.untermyergardens.org

Untermyer’s recent restoration should be reason enough to visit—the once sad-looking park has been transformed into a thriving oasis. (This spring alone, 25,000 new tulips were planted.) But if the garden’s flowers, fountains, and classically inspired architectural details aren’t enough of a draw, there’s the The Untermyer Performing Arts Council’s Worldfest Summer Concert Series, which takes place on Saturday evenings all summer. The schedule for 2014 includes a celebration of Latin choreographers, an evening of gospel performances, a tribute to Isadora Duncan, and music from the Korean Cultural Center. Visit www.untermyer.org for specific dates. 

The New York Botanical Garden

Bronx, NY

(718) 817-8700; www.nybg.org

We know that, when it comes to green spaces, we like to think we have an advantage over our New York City brethren, but there are blooms to be found south of our border. This summer, The New York Botanical Garden has ongoing cultural programs to coincide with its floral exhibition, Groundbreakers: Gardens of the Early 20th Century and the Extraordinary Women Who Designed Them. On Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays, there’s a concert series titled “From Ragtime to Jazz: The Roots of Pop,” which focuses on the music during the Groundbreakers time period, from Scott Joplin to George Gershwin. Or, if you’re feeling Gatsby-esque, stop by for one of the “Jazz Age Evenings: Cocktails, Concerts, and Dancing,”  featuring the music of the Roaring ’20s with Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra. (The featured cocktail of the evening on August 21 is the Crabbie’s Straight Up, made with Crabbie’s Ginger Beer.) The NYBG also has other events that cover the same time period, such as poetry walks that match Edna St. Vincent Millay’s verses to the flowers she writes about in her poems.

Wave Hill

Bronx, NY

(718) 549-3200; www.wavehill.org

While the NYBG usually gets all the Bronx floral glory, it shouldn’t overshadow Wave Hill, where a view of the Hudson River and Palisades provides the backdrop for a blooming pergola. During Wave Hill’s Sunset Wednesdays, visitors get a little of everything: a 6 pm outdoor Hatha yoga class, a garden walk, and an outdoor cultural performance.  Find Latin percussion virtuosos Los Monstritos (Young Monsters) on August 6, and an evening of dance with Bronx choreographers on August 13. 




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