Imagining what lies behind the gates and hedgerows of Hamptons homes belonging to people with the good taste and resources to indulge their garden fantasies is something of a pastime in the Hamptons.
Garden tours are one of the only ways to see what actually lies behind the facades, to stroll among the rose bushes and intricate vegetable gardens that are usually inwardly focused for the pleasure of the owners and not the passing public.
On Saturday, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons held its 28th annual garden tour and eight show-stopping gardens were available for public consumption for a price: $175.
More than 300 tickets had been sold in advance and as the first day of summer dawned sparklingly clear and sunny many people decided at the last minute to purchase tickets. “It is definitely our most successful tour,” said Sara Davison the executive director of ARF.
Garden tours are a great way to explore the neighborhood and this tour was geographically centered around Springs with one garden in the old Devon Colony in Amagansett.
On one stretch of Springs Fireplace Road where three gardens were located in close proximity to each other the cars were parked bumper to bumper along the shoulder.
The three gardens couldn’t have been more different and yet they sit almost shoulder-to-shoulder hidden from passing cars behind gates that beckon and hint at the treasures to be found.
The first house of the trio belongs to Annachiara Danieli and designed by the architects Oehme, van Sweden and Associates. It is filled with flowering plants and shrubs as well as a vegetable garden of intricate design. In bloom for the tour were banks of lush cerise roses leading to undulating paths lined with perennials, Agastache, Pycnanthemum, Senecio, Asarum, Geranium and Nepeta.
Danieli, a native of Udine, Italy, brings the traditions of Italy to the garden and her table including an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. The asparagus had just finished for the season and rhubarb was sprouting in the garden just beyond the 60-foot swimming pool. Later in the summer, tepees of tomatoes will flourish in a sunny corner of the garden and blackberries and raspberries will climb the fence that marks the boundaries of the garden.
A few doors further east, the garden of Pamela Bicket and Zachary Cohen is hidden behind gates and a forested approach that winds back beneath old-growth trees into the 6.2 acre former pasture. The plantings emphasize pattern and texture and the owners have worked with plants that are largely deer-resistant.
The approach leads to a formal garden of evergreen plantings including Japanese plum yews, boxwood and Osmanthus hedging. Planted close to the house are hornbeams, tupelos, Cryptomeria, fernleaf beeches and a Lebanese cedar.
Third among the trio of gardens is a sprawling property with views of Accabonac Harbor that belongs to the landscape designer Edwina von Gal. It reflects the owner’s on-going experiment with low-maintenance, toxin-free gardening and the lawns are carefully left un-mowed with paths that lead past a serious vegetable garden and past the three buildings on the property.
Accabonac harbor beckons the visitor to meander back through the property and it doesn’t disappoint. From the deck of a house built on stilts the magnificent sweep of the harbor unfolds to the houses across the way on Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett. The panorama is vast and arcs 180 degrees offering up a big sky vista that sweeps out over the water.
At the conclusion of the garden tour a cocktail party and wine tasting was held in the eighth house on the tour. The house, which belongs to Marshall Watson and Paul Sparks sits on the very tip of Hog Creek Point looking out from a steep bank scaled with a vertiginous stairway, facing towards Gardiner’s Island.
Watson, who is an interior designer and columnist for The Southampton Press, has an impeccable eye for details and has created a formal garden that dazzles with detail and scope. Once the visitor is past the Chippendale-style dark green gates the gravel crunches softly underfoot and the gardens begin to unfurl.
A walled garden with a fountain and a dramatic Palladian-style gazebo is paved with wood from trees that fell on the property during Hurricane Sandy.
Farther in, arrayed a long narrow swimming pool and a promenade of Kwanzan cherry trees lies a neoclassical seaside house that looked ready to step out of the pages of Architectural Digest. The house was open to visitors from the tour and they were encouraged to walk through the rooms and out the back towards the sparkling water behind.
In addition to the house and garden, and to celebrate ARF’s 40thyear, Watson asked his brother, the vintner, Ridge Watson, to host a wine tasting from the family’s award-winning wine estate, Joullian Vineyards of Monterey, California.