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Throught the Garden Gate

Posted on 24 August 2012

The sculpture “Rings” (2005) by Zhu Jinshi in the garden of Lisa and Richard Perry in North Haven.

By Paige Patterson


It’s the end of August and for those of us who are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or just bored with their own garden, there’s a cure. When your own garden is no longer inspiring, go visit those owned by other people. Invariably you will see something that will give you an idea on how to make your own sing a little sweeter — an idea worth borrowing or a planting combination worth stealing. And one of the best garden tours of the summer is here just in time. This Friday evening Guild Hall’s Garden as Art Weekend begins with a cocktail party and continues through Saturday with a lecture and five different gardens to inspire, provoke and encourage us all.

I was lucky enough to take a peek before the big tour kicked off so I’m going to give you a little taste of some of things I’m thinking about borrowing. Ranging from a classic East Hampton picture perfect elegant series of rooms to a rambling 45 acre balance of formality and fun (it’s the home of Bosley, a pig who’s rumored to have flown – in an airplane granted, but still!!!) all the gardens had elements that gave me ideas of things I could steal for my own.

How about the amazing idea at the garden in North Haven, where they took the edge of the lawn and cut the bed that was to border it about a foot and a half deeper than the lawn, thus giving them the room to plant a border of limelight hydrangeas and rugosa roses that could be sculpted to the same heights as the olives and oak and cedars that line the ground that cascades down to the beach, thus allowing for both color and an incredible, unimpeded view of Noyac Bay and beyond? Or the wisteria that they trained over a metal fence and handrails that has become as wrought as the iron it covers?

Or perhaps you will see the way the driveway stealthily continues to the garage/pool house that lives on Huntting Lane and understand that stealth has a place in every home. While you are there, you should admire the opposite side of the pool’s long bank of Ayesha (also known as Popcorn) Hydrangeas, a plant rarely seen except in collector’s gardens, here used perfectly.

Perhaps like me you will want to copy the border of carex, witch hazel, blueberries and winterberries that finished at a bench where based on the plant choice you can be guaranteed a visual reward no matter which season you take the stroll. Or steal their idea of putting stone on edge to cut steps into a level change that’s both formal and casual all at once.

Maybe you’d prefer to transform your garden into a series of continuously unfolding rooms, one after another to create an experience not unlike what I imagine a perfect Christmas would be — where each present you unwrap is just as good, if not better, than the one before. I was mad for their pool!

Or perhaps you will want to create a taste of another country, the way Tuscan has arrived amid crape myrtles, sheared boxwood, ancient trumpet vines, terracotta and stucco with the most perfect blue trim in the fields of Bridgehampton. In fact the way they hid their tennis court is so perfect I almost left without finding it. Brilliant.

I found lights carved into boxwood balls as if they’d always been there, meditatively strolled a maze an inch high, watched static art tumble without moving, was able to bounce on a lawn higher than any kangaroo, watched a garden open up in front of me like the most elegant Russian nesting dolls I’d ever seen and found a saying carved into a stone that summed my whole day of garden exploration up perfectly, “A garden should owe its charm to secret realms and hidden meeting places laying siege to a unity you sense but cannot find.” I highly recommend you go plunder.

The Garden as Art Weekend kicks off on Friday, August 24 with a cocktail reception hosted by Lucy & Steve Cookson at their Devon Colony estate Windy Dune. On Saturday, August 25, there’s a continental breakfast, followed by an illustrated lecture by award winning landscape architect Edmund Hollander, who will sign copies of his newly released book, “The Private Oasis.” There is a luncheon for benefactor ticket holders from 12-2 p.m. at two neighboring exclusive East Hampton estates with outstanding gardens.

For tickets and information, please contact Laura Perrotti at Guild Hall at 631-324-0806 x22 or

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