An ode to gracious living

The Lyndhurst Flower Show weekend is growing again, by design. This year’s season-opening April event at the Tarrytown historic site will incorporate contemporary artists into the annual celebration of flowers, antiques and gracious living.

The season-opening weekend at Lyndhurst – built around the Lyndhurst Flower Show – is growing, pun fully intended.

That is by design, says Howard Zar, executive director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation site in Tarrytown.

In all aspects of programming, including the April 6-7 event, Zar says the focus is on building from past success.

“What we recognize is people want to be met at their interest level.”

That means this year’s edition of the annual event is being staged not only as a showcase of lush floral design, along with an antiques show and a high tea, but will also incorporate a decidedly new element, art exhibitions and installations by contemporary artists influenced by nature and flowers.

“Then you have choices and options of what might attract you” and what you want to participate in, Zar adds, noting that programming has also been expanded to reach a previously unexpected audience.

“Last year we realized we had a lot of kids, or a lot of families with kids,” he says, pointing to this year’s family workshops.

In addition, he says, there will be a boutique in response to feedback from numerous attendees who wanted a floral-themed shopping experience.

The centerpiece event

Once again, the flower show is the weekend’s focal point, with visitors permitted to walk through the main house of the estate at their own pace, not on a guided tour.

It’s an ideal introduction, Zar notes, for first-time visitors — or a way for regulars to savor the mansion in a new manner.

In room after historic room, floral designers will have created vignettes that reflect the surroundings and serve to showcase their creativity. Throughout, the show — co-founded by floral artists Gerald Palumbo of Seasons On the Hudson and Ned Kelly of Ned Kelly and Co. — is designed to recreate the opulence of the Gilded Age and draw inspiration from the mansion’s heyday, when its interiors were regularly filled with flowers from its own gardens and greenhouse.

In addition, the show has also grown to reflect the way Lyndhurst was historically considered a showcase of contemporary — and cutting-edge — art and architecture.

From formal dining room to library to bedrooms and alcoves, participants find a space in which they can design their vision. Some, Zar says, go for the flat-out elaborate, while others “want to do a very tailored display.”

Among the 2019 participants are Arcadia Floral Co. in Mamaroneck, Colonial Village Flowers in Scarsdale, Forever in Bloom in Mount Kisco, Glorimundi Flower & Event Design in South Salem, House of Flowers in Mamaroneck, Joseph Richard Florals in Armonk, Ned Kelly & Co. in Piermont, Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington and Manhattan, Stems in Brooklyn, Wile Events in New Jersey, Worship Luxury Inc. in New York City and X-quisite Flowers and Events Inc. of New Rochelle.

The newest element

Integrating contemporary artists into the mix signals a new direction for the show, giving artists a historic canvas of sorts.

“I think for them it’s a very interesting situation,” Zar says.

These participants include Brooklyn flower- crown artist Joshua Werber, whose work will top mannequins featuring fashions once owned by Lyndhurst heiress Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand; New York City terrarium artist Paula Hayes; and Catskill artist Portia Munson, who’s noted for her floral mandalas and will here display a three-story floral print.

In addition, Brooklyn-based floral artist
Whitney Crutchfield of We Gather will lead botanical weaving workshops for families.

The weekend will again kick off with an April 5 Preview Party, an evening hosted by the Garden Club of Irvington to benefit the restoration of the historic fountains and perennials in the Lyndhurst Rose Garden.

Visitors to the property throughout the show, Zar notes, will also be able to see the progress of the lower landscape restoration, a project they will be able to follow on return visits.

“As people get here during the summer, they will see a very different landscape starting to evolve,” he says, noting it’s just one aspect of restoration work underway throughout the property. The work also includes the placing of marble sculptures long in storage and attention directed to the walkway from the mansion veranda through the rockeries.

“People will really start to see the Lyndhurst landscape and setting fully revived and restored,” Zar says.

Something old, something sweet

While the flowers are in focus, the weekend will also again feature the popular complementary events, an antiques show and high tea on both April 6 and 7.

Antiques on the Hudson returns from Barn Star Productions, a showcase of fine art and vintage finds. The show will be held in a heated tent pavilion with a carpeted floor, showcasing dealers who will offer everything from garden urns to estate jewelry, English silver to contemporary art, maps to textiles and more. Bob Richter of PBS’ “Market Warriors” fame — and author of “Vintage Living: Creating a Beautiful Home with Treasured Objects from the Past” (Rizzoli) — will lead a walking tour of the show on April 6, followed by a book signing.

High Tea with Saint George Bistro of Hastings-on-Hudson and Seasons will be offered, with timed seatings.

Rago Arts & Auction of Lambertville, New Jersey, will also again be displaying floral-themed jewelry and offering appraisals by appointment, while Lyndhurst is teaming up with Wave Hill, the Riverdale public garden and cultural center, to present an April 6 “Farm to Garden Conversation.”

Last year’s kickoff weekend proved a dazzler, attracting lifestyle maven — and Bedford resident — Martha Stewart, as well as featuring a walk-through with veteran antiques expert Leigh Keno of “Antiques Roadshow” fame.

Zar thinks this year’s multidimensional weekend can prove even more successful, with the additional offerings giving attendees “one if not two other things, if not three other things you’ll want to do while there.”

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