Hidden Private Gardens of the East End to Open this Spring

Posted on 06 May 2014

The view of the pool in George Biercuk and Robert Luckey's garden in Wainscott. Photo courtesy of Garden Conservancy.

The view of the pool in George Biercuk and Robert Luckey’s garden in Wainscott. Photo courtesy of Garden Conservancy.

By Tessa Raebeck

While many East End residents lamented that winter lasted far too long this year, George Biercuk of Wainscott enjoyed his garden.

“It has something in bloom all year long,” said Mr. Biercuk, who shares his garden with his partner, Robert Luckey.

“There is enough structure in the garden that it holds together as a garden even in the winter,” Mr. Biercuk said Friday. Be it freezing or beautiful out, “there is always something in bloom.”

The four-season garden is one of six being featured in the Garden Conservancy’s Suffolk County Open Day Saturday, the first of six daylong tours across the county this summer.

On Saturday, visitors can view any or all of six private gardens in Wainscott, East Hampton and Stony Brook.

On Sayre’s Path in Wainscott, the Biercuk and Luckey garden is easy to find, with bright, yellow daffodils in full bloom lining the property along the roadside.

In designing his space, Mr. Biercuk, who grew up experimenting with planting and attended a horticultural program at Southampton College, and has a self-described natural affinity for gardening, sought “a very natural garden.”

“So that it’s low in maintenance,” he said, “that I don’t have to worry about every leaf and it’s not a pristine garden, like a very formal one. Because the garden should be fun.”

The couple planned the garden slowly, improving the soil a bed at a time, planning out every curve and season.

“I started with the plants that were supposed to be dwarf so that I could get more in,” he said. “And it’s growing better than I imagined.”

Totally designed, dug and planted by Mr. Biercuk, the garden is complemented by a pond-like pool, a waterfall and stonework designed by Mr. Biercuk and implemented by Richard Cohen and Jim Kutz of Rockwater Design & Installations in Amagansett.

The entire property is an acre, but the lush foliage tricks the eye into thinking it’s a much larger estate.

Dianne Benson's home in East Hampton, part of the Suffolk County Open Days private garden tour. Photo courtesy of Garden Conservancy.

Dianne Benson’s home in East Hampton, part of the Suffolk County Open Days private garden tour. Photo courtesy of Garden Conservancy.

“I have real estate people come in here and walk around and go in the back, which is probably a half acre, maybe a touch more, and go, ‘How many acres are in the back here?’” said Mr. Biercuk. “Because of the way its planted, you cannot see the whole thing—and that’s what I wanted.”

“Whenever I go walk some place, I always take a different route and I come back a different way, because you always see things differently,” he added.

Looking out from the kitchen, Mr. Biercuk can see the waterfall flowing into his pool, flanked by evergreens and rhododendrons.

“It’s one cohesive space,” he said. And through the crisp chill of January or the sweating sun of July, it stays that way. The plants rotate, but the greenery never fades.

Day lilies and peonies pop up in June, with the day lilies running through the summer.

“I have them staggered with different bloom times, so they pop up all over the place,” he said. “I use varying foliage also, so there’s always color.”

The azaleas come in the early summer, followed by clerodendrums trichotomum in August, “which has incredible fragrance,” an essential part of any garden, he said.

“And then when the flowers are finished, it gets this wonderful berry-like substance—red and purple—like the old fashioned juices,” he said. “That lasts through the fall.”

Fuchsias Mr. Biercuk has had for 30 years get planted out again in August, brightening the backyard with vibrant oranges.

“You can go find them and put them in the ground in May and have them blooming, but I like waiting for things,” he said.

Angel wing begonias, some of them nearly 7 feet tall, are planted in the fall, as are some perennials.  Begonia Grandis, a “hardy begonia” comes into flower in late August and lasts into the fall.

In the winter, evergreens, rhododendrons, holly and pieris fill the property, as well as hamamelis, or witch hazel.

This time of year, “we’re entering into the height,” Mr. Biercuk said, adding that his favorite rhododendron, the Taurus, blooms a deep red in the springtime.

“Hopefully, they’re going to be in full glory next Saturday,” he said.

The Suffolk County Open Day of private garden tours is Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 or 4 p.m., depending on the garden. Following Suffolk County Open Days are May 17, June 21, July 12, July 19 and September 6. For prices, participating gardens and more information, call 1-888-842-2442, email opendays@gardenconservancy.org or visit gardenconservancy.org/opendays.

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- who has written 453 posts on The Sag Harbor Express.

Contributing Writer and Education Reporter for the Sag Harbor Express. Twitter: @TessaRaebeck

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