IT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE I WAS SO THOROUGHLY WOWED by a recent visit to LongHouse Reserve, a 16-acre masterpiece of landscape design, that Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, N.Y., a 22-year-old, five-acre garden designed by Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens and recently donated to the Peconic Land Trust, struck me as a bit underwhelming.
The layout seems to break one of the most hallowed rules of garden design, which is that the whole thing should not be revealed all at once. At Bridge Gardens, once you’re through an impressive perimeter hedge of European beech, above, the majority of the property is right there before you: a vast stretch of lawn with a lavender parterre and a rose rondel, top, with some 800 species of antique and modern roses (great if you’re a rose aficionado — I’m not). That’s the Outer Garden, which also includes a bank of lilacs in fragrant bloom and a fun collection of yew topiaries, below.
The Inner Garden, around a post-modern building that is the gardener’s residence and an education center, was more interesting to me, particularly a meticulous multi-colored knot garden, below, mulched with broken clam shells. There’s a reflecting pool, a ‘bamboo room,’ and a woodland garden area to explore.
It took my friend Debre and me less than an hour to explore it all, and we were dilly-dallying.
Bridge Gardens would be a wonderful venue for a wedding or big party (it’s available for hire), with all that open space, and serious plantspeople will find much to fascinate them, but as a work of inspiring landscape design, it didn’t knock this jaded garden-tourist out.