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THINGS ARE SO GREEN AROUND HERE after a couple of days of heavy rain… well, all that’s missing is the serpent.
I can’t stop taking iPhone snaps of my humble Long Island half-acre, from so many angles you’d think it was the Parthenon. Top, what looks to my eye like a classic border, with the requisite curving path and conical evergreen for structure. The perennial cranesbill geranium is flowering as never before, thanks to a free hand with the Deer-Out. Mustn’t relax my vigilance, especially after such a deluge — which washes the repellent away, despite what the label says. The deer are wily creatures.
See the results of yesterday’s photography walk below:
Plenty of free parking
A new view of my place, from the next door neighbor’s yard. Looks rather sweet from their POV
Above, not my shed. I had gone next door to check out theirs. I’m planning a shed myself, for garden tools and equipment. It won’t be as elaborate as this one. This is practically a guest cottage; if I had such a structure, I’d use it for more than bike and junk storage.
Above, the area where I’ll be putting the shed
Lilies of the valley and May apples at the rear of the property. I’ve helped them out a bit by clearing garlic mustard from this area.
Above, a peony, one of two I planted three years ago, finally asserting itself, maybe to bloom a few years hence.
Something I like: a variegated pieris putting out colorful foliage.
Planted three weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’ by the roadside — still working on that ‘tapestry hedge’ for screening in a light-challenged, deer-challenged area
Dead boxwood and other yard waste, ready for the dump
That delicate sweet woodruff, a flowering groundcover so charming in a shady Brooklyn backyard, became thuggish in this area under the magnolia. I ripped it out by the fistful to prevent it taking over the pulmonaria (spotted leaves, lower right)
Been moving things around… the Korean boxwood just arrived in this corner from nearer the front, where it was outgrowing its space
All is freshened up by the long, much-needed shower. Sun breaking through!
The heavenly tented pool pavilion
I COULD GO IN AND OUT of grand oceanfront estates all day long, then come back to my humble cottage and still be happy with the place. I can wander five hedged, manicured, topiaried, statued, fountained acres and admire them, but not care a whit that they don’t belong to me.
Anthropomorphic boxwoods greet you at the gravel parking court
But Sunday I visited an Amagansett garden newly added to the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program and came away wanting to weep.
Perennial beds on a central axis of brick pathways near the property’s entrance
This one is a mere one-third of an acre, surrounding a cedar-shingled cottage with muted green trim.
Tall, columnar Leyland cypresses are dramatic punctuation marks
Yet it has so many nooks and aspects, separated by specimen evergreens and Japanese maples, and blooming profusely in mid-July with tropical-colored cannas, day lilies, fuchsias, and more, it seems much larger, and decidedly un-boring.
Poolside cannas in bloom
A shady back corner with Solomon’s seal, white hydrangeas
The design works such popular cottage-garden features as rustic arbors and a brick-paved entry patio centered on an iron urn, to magical effect.
Day lilies, a dwarf Japanese maple on the pool patio
Masterminded by Victoria Fensterer, a garden designer based in East Hampton, it is dense with plants, but with such a clear structure that it feels not overstuffed but simply abundant.
There’s a small, irregularly shaped lawn, surrounded by tall evergreens and old cedars, so that the edges of the property are blurred and seemingly non-existent.
Dense shrubbery visually expands the boundaries of the small lot
Steps made of massive slabs of stone lead to a naturalistic pool with river stones in place of the usual coping.
Stone steps lead to a free-form pool
“SECOND HOUSE” IN MONTAUK, out at the tip of Long Island, is so called because it was — you guessed it — the second house built there, when Montauk’s 15,000 acres comprised America’s first cattle ranch. First House, built in 1744, burned down long ago. Second House, now a museum maintained by the Montauk Historical Society, went up in 1797 — the oldest parts of it, anyway.
It served as an inn for travelers, fishermen, and hunters, later as a summer home for a family named Kennedy. I’d driven past it many times but never found it open.
Today I went inside for the first time (it’s open every day but Wednesday in summer) and can report that Second House is filled with furnishings in styles ranging from Colonial to Victorian, along with displays of old tools and framed photographs of local scenes.
There’s also an array of Montauk-abilia, including an arresting portrait of Stephen Talkhouse, below, the legendary 19th century Montauk Indian and Civil War vet said to be able to walk from Montauk to Brooklyn (a distance of 100 miles) in a day.
There’s a fine cottage garden surrounded by a picket fence, and an interesting rockery/herb garden alongside one of the outbuildings.
For the $4 price of admission, it’s definitely something to keep in mind for a rainy day at the beach.
PRETTY WELL, METHINKS, in the front yard at least. This morning, the view from my door was what you see above.
Six short weeks ago, on April 26, it looked like this:
Here’s another angle on the current splendor:
Same general area in late March:
My shadiest area today:
And ten weeks ago:
It’s gratifying to know that the soil I created where none existed before is able to support such growth. But there will be no resting on my mountain laurels. This weekend, I’ve hired two guys to help me hand-weed and generally tame the jungle that is the backyard. Pictures to follow.
NOW THERE’S YOUR PROPER JUNE BORDER, above. A little ahead of time, as is everything in this accelerated spring. Peonies; irises; columbine; foxgloves and phlox on their way. In front of a very proper old house, below, on Long Island’s North Fork, where I was on Saturday.
It’s all happening now: the farmstands, the wineries, the traffic. There are lots of greenhouses, large and small, selling vegetable starters and annuals and overflowing, ready-made hanging baskets.
I was there to visit my cousin Susan and check the progress of her garden beds, which we planted, I think, three years ago. Two years ago this month, the full-sun beds at the end of her driveway looked like this:
The evergreen shrubs and day lilies were already there. We put in dianthus, lamb’s ear, ladies mantel, catmint, and yarrow.
This past weekend, the same bed, from a different angle (pre-weeding), looked like this:
And the one on the other side of the driveway like this:
Catmint is the best. So is June.