Tag Archive | "landscaping"

Landscape Pleasures Offers an Insider’s Look at Southampton’s Ever-Changing Gardens

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The garden of Margaret and R. Peter Sullivan is one of the homes featured on the Parrish Art Museum's Landscape Pleasures garden tour this Sunday, June 8. Photo by Doug Young.

The garden of Margaret and R. Peter Sullivan is one of the homes featured on the Parrish Art Museum’s Landscape Pleasures garden tour this Sunday, June 8. Photo by Doug Young.

By Tessa Raebeck

Like a piece of artwork or a writer’s manuscript, a garden is never truly finished. As with all art, gardens can always evolve, changing with the seasons and naturally growing out of plans and designs, developing over time in a never-ending evolution.

Gardening is the art of the Earth, providing the willing and creative with another means of finding beauty in the mundane.

“All I know is, I don’t paint with a trowel or garden with a brush,” the late Robert Dash said in a video by P. Allen Smith Classics filmed in 2011, two years before his death, when asked about the connection between gardening and painting.

“They inform one another in ways that are very mysterious. It’s how the trowel is wielded or how the brush is wielded that informs the canvas or the Earth and there are no rules. And the only way you know how to do something in either of those arts is by doing it,” he added.

Mr. Dash, an artist, writer and gardener who died in September at age 82, “believed very much in gardens taking their time and developing over a period of time,” said Jack deLashmet, co-chair of Landscape Pleasures, which will honor Mr. Dash this year.

Hosted by the Parrish Art Museum, Landscape Pleasures includes three lectures by gardening and landscape design experts on Saturday, June 7, followed by a day of tours of some of Southampton’s most historic and remarkable gardens on Sunday, June 8.

The 2-acre Sagaponack garden of Mr. Dash, the Madoo Conservancy, which is open to the public, is included among the private estates on Sunday’s tour.

Established in 1967, the internationally known organic garden is a testament to Mr. Dash’s belief in the ever-evolving landscape. The grounds offer a tour across history, featuring Tudor, High Renaissance, early Greek, English, French and Asian influences.

Mr. Dash’s horticultural wisdom—and his commitment to the garden as a canvas that is ever changing and organic—will be celebrated and expanded on this weekend.

“We’ve always had excellent speakers,” said Mr. deLashmet of the annual garden tours, who believes this year’s Landscape Pleasures is the best yet. “The theme is the never finished garden, that gardens really evolve—and everybody will have a slight take on that,”

On Saturday, southern landscape design architect Paul Faulkner “Chip” Callaway, “an absolutely entertaining speaker,” according to Mr. deLashmet, will present, reflecting on his experience creating nearly 1,000 gardens, concentrating on period restoration work and designing historically relevant gardens.

Following Mr. Callaway, Martin Filler, the architecture critic for The New York Review of Books, and renowned for his more than 1,000 articles, essays and books on modern architecture,  will celebrate the contributions of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the Listerine fortune heiress who was a patron of the arts with a dedicated interest in gardening, landscape design and the history of gardens.

A friend and confidante of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Ms. Mellon redesigned the White House Rose Garden. She died in March at the age of 103.

One of the world’s premiere garden designers, Arne Maynard, is the final speaker Saturday. Known for his large country gardens in Great Britain, the United States and across Europe, Mr. Maynard has the special “ability to identify and draw out the essence of a place, something that gives his gardens a particular quality of harmony,” according to the Parrish website.

Continuing the celebration of the changing nature of gardens, the self-guided tour Sunday features properties with rich histories behind them.

The garden of Perri Peltz and Eric Ruttenberg, an 1892 property originally called “Claverack,” is rarely open to the public.

Although it has evolved, the owners are always mindful of their home’s deep history; the original outhouses, bucolic buildings housing poultry, dairy and the stables, were, in a move that is sadly rare on the East End, married together and allowed to remain.

Designer Tory Burch will open up her home, a 1929 red brick Georgian House and 10-acre garden known as Westerly that is one of Southampton’s grandest estates.

“A great story about both restoring and finding old plants,” according to Mr. deLashmet,  Bernard and Joan Carl, the owners an 8-acre estate called “Little Orchard,” restored original plantings while also bringing in new gardens.

“We did not want to be beholden to the past just for the past’s sake,” Ms. Carl told the Parrish.

The garden of Margaret and R. Peter Sullivan is an American style garden flanked by a new Palladian villa. The landscape offers a modern interpretation on standard ideas of gardening, with fruits and vegetables, an herb garden, and a vase decorated with poetry made by Mr. Dash.

As the late Mr. Dash once said, “Gardening is very much like setting a table—and if you can set a good dinner table, you can be a good gardener.”

A two-day event, Landscape Pleasures begins Saturday, June 7, at 8:30 a.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For a full calendar and more information, call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

Hidden Private Gardens of the East End to Open this Spring

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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.

Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Tree & Plant Health Care Gets Homeowners Ready for Spring

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Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc.

Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Photo by Steven Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

If you want to catch Jackson Dodds, the owner of the landscaping company of the same name, sitting still, you’ll have to move quickly.

After a long and tough winter, Mr. Dodds said he is anticipating a very short window this spring to prune storm-damaged trees, clean up and prepare gardens for the season, repair damage to driveways and curbs caused by snowplows, and get irrigation systems up and running, all jobs his full-service company handles.

“Everybody is going to be really busy,” he said of the trade in general during an interview in his Southampton office. “So if you want to get on the schedule, don’t wait a month because we’re going to have a really condensed season.”

Every spring seems to bring a different challenge, said Mr. Dodds. Last year, it was damage from Hurricane Sandy. This year, ‘it’s been a brutal winter, and the deer damage is obscene,” he said. “A lot of deer-resistant plant material has been completely defoliated.”

Mr. Dodds, who grew up on what today is the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, said he always wanted to “work outside” and the East End was one of the few places that offered the opportunity “where you could be a landscaper and still make a living.”

“I started dragging brush right of high school,” after landing a job with Ray Smith and Associates 19 years ago, where he was soon made a partner, Mr. Dodds said, adding that he was proud that he was the youngest certified arborist in New York State at age 18 and today is the vice president of the Long Island Arboricultural Association.

Mr. Dodds attended both Alfred State College and the State University of New York at Delhi before later completing his education at Farmingdale State College, where he received degrees in landscape design and turf management with a minor in business. “Farmingdale is a great school on Long Island for horticulture,” Mr. Dodds said.

Three years ago, he made the break to form his own company. Today, Jackson Dodds and Company has 14 employees, spread over four divisions, landscape design and installation, tree pruning and removal, irrigation and lawn care and planting.

During his career, Mr. Dodd said he has seen everything, including a trend that started in the mid-1990s before pausing for a few years when the economy tanked in 2007: the removal of full-size specimen trees from one property to be planted on another property, where the homeowner wants an instantly mature landscape.

“They say, ‘the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps,’” Mr. Dodd said about tree transplants, although he quickly added that mature trees sometimes take a couple of more years to recover. “The after-care is everything,” he said. “That is where we carve out a niche, watching the plant’s health and care, prepping the soil and feeding.”

And how big are these trees? Last year, Mr. Dodds said his crew used a 110-ton crane to move a tree that had a 108-inch root ball. “Some of my clients move trees like they move furniture,” he said. “Nothing is too big.”

Fruit orchards are another specialty. “Fruit trees require a very specific timing on when you apply fungicide to the leaves,” he said. “You have to do everything to keep the leaf healthy to keep the fruit healthy. If you miss the timing, your fruit turns into a shriveled up prune.”

Mr. Dodd smiles when asked about organic plant care. It doesn’t work on orchards, he said, and the problem with it is “it typically doesn’t give the kind of results people expect out here.”

That’s not to say he is an advocate of wholesale applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Mr. Dodd said he used integrated pest management system and coordinates the applications with the temperature at which they will do the most good and the least harm. “We all have to drink the same water here,” he said, “so we’re by the book when it comes to that.”

For more information on Jackson Dodds & Company Inc., visit jacksondoddsinc.com or call 604-5693.