This Month in the Garden: Wintertime at the Beautiful Old Westbury Gardens-Long Island

Wintertime at Old Westbury Gardens

The inner beauty of a garden is found as it changes throughout the seasons, and there is a hidden beauty that strikes the senses in wintertime. One of my favorite places to visit on the north shore of Long Island is Old Westbury Gardens. I am more familiar with visiting these beautiful gardens during the springtimethroughout the days of summer, and even into the cooler days of autumn, but had never seen them in wintertime. With temperatures in the 30’s and winter apparel on, a gardening friend and I decided to venture out into the winter wonderland of Old Westbury Gardens and take in all that nature has to offer.

Garden Entrance
As we drove up the tree lined driveway to the gardens, the magical tour started, as snow covered branches led the way towards the mansion and grounds. I never really paid much attention to the entry before, so this was a new outlook on how something as simple as a driveway could be so beautiful in wintertime. There was a certain allure that I find hard to describe. We paused and listened to the stillness that surrounded us, and every so often there would be the rustling sound of snow as it fell from branches above.
Westbury House Wintertime
The Westbury House was built back in 1905 by architect George Crawley for John Phipps, the eldest of three sons. His father, Henry Phipps, was one of the partners at Carnegie Steel during the Gilded Age. John Phipps had promised his wife Margarita Grace an English style estate and garden, much like the one she had grown up in. When John and Margarita passed away in the late 1950’s, their only daughter Peggie (one of four children) helped to turn the estate into a nonprofit charity in 1958, which opened up to the public in 1959.
Welcoming Fireplace
The mansion has a different look in winter, with garland trimmed columns that lead the way and an inviting fireplace that warms the main room as you walk inside. The large sun room is decorated with holiday trees, with an added touch of cyclamen and daffodils. Volunteers serve warm cookies and hot apple cider on weekends during the month of December for an added touch of good cheer.
Winter Decor
The rooms of the mansion are decorated with care as perfectly placed poinsettias add color to the already beautiful decor. Holiday wreaths, brightly wrapped packages and even a train set upstairs all add to the holiday atmosphere.
Inside the Mansion
Having arrived at the gardens, it was time to venture outside and accomplish what we had set out for… to see the grounds through winter’s eyes. The snow and cold did not bother us, as we were captured in the awe over the garden’s beauty. It was truly the winter wonderland we had dreamed of experiencing. 
Old Westbury Mansion Back Patio
The outside porch leads to a series of steps on each side that lead to the ponds and gardens below. There are two lakes on the property and a reflecting pool behind the mansion. We walked through the trellised pergola that supports rose blooms in the summer and around to the lake.
Trellised Walkway in Wintertime

The lake was frozen in spots and the reflecting pool and columned pergola in the distance could be seen. The trees made crackling noises as ice melted from them.

Lake at Old Westbury Gardens with Columned Pergola in Distance
Once we walked around the lake, we had to go see the masonry and wrought iron gazebo, which is referred to as the “Temple of Love”. It is beautifully located at the far end of the lake with a view of the mansion at the background.
Temple of Love Old Westbury Gardens Wintertime
Margarita Phipps had a passion for gardens and architecture. The gazebo is one of the many structures located on the 200 acre property…
Temple of Love Old Westbury Gardens Wintertime
and one of my favorite places to visit every time I go there.
Winter Views
On the way to and from the gazebo is an arched wooden bridge that takes you from one side of the garden to the other.
Bridge Wintertime
On the way around to the other side of the garden, a beautiful wrought iron gate with gold foil trim is located at the end of the allee, and to the right is the Walled Garden.

Giant Wrought Iron Gate at end of the Allee

The Italianate walled garden is one of the main attractions on the estate. Because the Phipps spent most of their summers abroad, the walled garden was planned for spring and fall interest. Today, under the direction of the horticulturist Lemuel Hegwood, the garden puts on a show during the entire growing season with blooms from early spring until fall, each season more magnificent than the one before.

Walled Garden Wintertime
Seeing just the structures in front of the semi-frozen pond, which is home of lotus blooms in the summer, gave a whole new perspective on this area of the garden. I found it to be quite peaceful and beautiful. 
Walled Garden Wintertime
While I had never walked through the giant pergola and gazebo arches before, I was led to explore. Visiting in the wintertime allowed the focus to go onto the amazing architecture of the structures on the property. I could just picture the Phipps and their guests strolling along the garden.
Wintertime at Old Westbury Gardens
On the way back towards the mansion, we passed through the trellised area once again and stopped to take a long look and absorb it all in. I can still visualize the beautiful gardens and feel the crispness of the air as we tracked through the snow in fur lined boots while bundled up with scarf and gloves. The view of gazebo and bridge with frozen lake, walled garden covered in white and snow gently falling from branches above, followed by the warmth of hot cider, made for a perfect day.
Old Westbury Mansion
I hope you enjoyed seeing Old Westbury Gardens either for the first time or for the first wintertime experience. I found it to be just as beautiful as I had imagined it would be. Old Westbury Gardens is open to the public from April-December and also hosts a variety of events, including workshops and weddings. If you would like to experience a virtual visit to these beautiful gardens at different times of the year, click here on this site and look under Long Island to tour Old Westbury Gardens.
Wintertime at Old Westbury Gardens
Author: [email protected] Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2018. All rights reserved