GLORIOUS GARDENSWonderful Public Gardens To Visit In The Hamptons
The East End of Long Island is known for our beautiful beaches, farm fields, equestrian heritage and commercial fishing industry. Artists revere the quality of the light here. The East End is also a land of gardens—they’re an important part of what makes this area so special. Whether created and kept by home gardeners or designed for grand estates by top landscape architects and maintained by trained crews, all East End gardens thrive in particular sets of conditions. Those conditions vary depending on how close you are to the water, the type of soil present (which varies significantly) and the amount of sun or shade on the site.
In addition to environmental challenges, East End gardeners contend with deer, which are a constant problem and whose numbers seem to increase every year, along with the plants on their menu. Despite the challenges, the East End has an abundance of gardens, from pots of plants on decks and patios to backyard vegetable plots to small gardens to magnificent estate landscapes.
For plant lovers and gardeners looking for inspiration—or just to delight the senses—there are many wonderful gardens to see on the East End. There are public gardens in many of our towns and villages, free for the looking. There are world class gardens open to the public for the price of admission, which helps pay for their care. The Garden Conservancy holds open days at members’ gardens every year, during which you can visit the gardens of expert and dedicated home gardeners, who are often on hand to answer questions. Visit www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days and look for Suffolk County to find local gardens to visit on open days. There are opportunities to visit some of the grandest gardens in the Hamptons, on annual tours offered by non-profit organizations including Guild Hall in East Hampton and The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF). The Parrish Art Museum in Southampton hosts an annual Landscape Pleasures event that features a symposium followed by a self-guided garden tour. The Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons (www.hahgarden.org) also conducts tours of outstanding area gardens for members.
Photo: Joanne Sohn
Here are some of the best public gardens to visit on the East End.
In Southampton Village, the Southampton Rose Society has created five public rose gardens at different locations. The main garden, not to be missed, is located next to the Rogers Memorial Library and is spectacular when the roses are in full bloom in May and June, and still colorful until fall. The centerpiece of the garden is a lovely gazebo surrounded by beds of roses. Four smaller gardens are found at various locations in the village. If you love roses, join the Southampton Rose Society! Visit them online at www.southamptonrose.org.
In Bridgehampton, under the auspices of Peconic Land Trust, Bridge Gardens is a 5-acre public and demonstration garden where you can explore a variety of perennial and annual flowers and shrubs, a beautiful rose garden, and a garden of herbs with culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses, as well as plants used to dye textiles. In addition to the beautifully maintained landscape, Bridge Gardens offers a variety of educational programs on horticulture, art and children’s activities, as well as concerts, from April to December. Find out more at www.peconiclandtrust.org/our-work/projects/bridge-gardens.
Photo: Jeff Heatley
The Madoo Conservancy, located in the heart of Sagaponack, is another must-see for lovers of plants and gardens. Established in 1967 by the renowned artist, gardener and writer Robert Dash, it is aptly described on their website as “a magical oasis set on an enchanting 2-acre landscape.” It is like no other garden, blending lush plantings, interesting structures, surprising colors and architectural details into a visual paradise. Created over decades, Madoo is an expression of Robert Dash’s artistic vision that continues as a living tribute to the artistic imagination of its founder. The garden is open to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays from May to mid-October, and hosts tours, classes, lectures, workshops and children’s programs. A winter lecture series features notable speakers from the worlds of horticulture, design and architecture. On the National Register of Historic Places, Madoo will be sure to inspire and delight. Visit their website www.madoo.org to learn more.
Farther east, be sure to visit LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. This 16-acre reserve and sculpture garden, founded by eminent textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, is dedicated, as their website explains, to exploring the concept of landscape as an art form, and also demonstrating the broad range of plants that can be grown here in different environments. The gardens include works by Buckminster Fuller, Dale Chihuly, Willem DeKooning, Yoko Ono and others. LongHouse embraces world cultures and aims to “inspire a creative life.” In summer there are outdoor events including yoga classes, tours, concerts and an annual container garden show where you’ll see inventive creations by some of the premier landscape designers and firms in the Hamptons. Visit the website www.longhouse.org to learn more.
If you’d like to have a garden or beautify your landscape but don’t know where to begin, there are a host of outstanding landscape companies on the East End who can help you create the perfect outdoor environment. Here are just a few well known East End companies.
Unlimited Earth Care
2249 Scuttle Hole Road, Bridgehampton
120 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton
Charlie Whitmore Gardens
26 Montauk Hwy, P.O. Box 10, Amagansett
The Laurel Group
910 Montauk Highway, Water Mill
257 County Road 39, Southampton
38 Nugent Street, Southampton
303 Montauk Highway, Westhampton Beach