Springs Garden Report

“YAY, IT’S GONNA RAIN all weekend!” Only a gardener would say that. A gardener who, like myself, just put in two dogwood trees (a cornus kousa Chinensis in front, and a cornus Florida ‘Cloud Nine’ in back) as well as three red-twig dogwood shrubs I’d been coveting. It’s part of my plan to put some flowering trees on my Long Island property, and add some things for winter interest (the red twigs — fabulous against the snow).

The rest of the landscape can use some water too. It’s been a dry, nearly snowless winter, except for an 8″ dumping in January that melted within two days.

I’ve done a lot of compost-spreading on my perennial beds, exhausting my homemade supply and then making two trips to the Town of East Hampton’s inexhaustible free compost and mulch piles. You can see the new red-twig cornus alba Siberica in the upper left-hand corner, below.

One disappointment this spring: the apparent demise of two of the six boxwoods I planted last September as screening between my house and the one next door, below. They’ve gone almost completely yellow, and that can’t be good. I called the nursery where I bought them to see if I had any recourse; I don’t, because they didn’t plant them. They didn’t plant the other four either, which are doing fine, but that’s their policy, don’t ya know.  Following the advice of garden guru Margaret Roach, I’m not pruning out the yellowed stems just yet; she says to wait a bit, to see what’s really dead and what’s not.

I’ve been here a week-and-a-half and, as usual, it’s flown. I’m heading back to Brooklyn today, and in my absence, the screened porch will be repaired and painted — white, with a gray floor. The white includes the ceiling, which means the trompe l’oeil sky, below, painted thirty years ago by artist Randall Rosenthal, is going. I have mixed feelings about that, especially because Randy is my friend and neighbor, but it’s time.

It’s always hard to tear myself away from the peace of the country. It’s marginally easier when the rain is pounding down, as it is now. My sympathies to those who had yard sales, baseball games, picnics… weddings!… planned for this weekend, but… YAY! <Cheshire cat smile>.

3 New Q&As

I HAVEN’T UPDATED my Q&A page in a long time because… well, nobody’s asked me any questions! But all of a sudden, three came in within two days. I feel like singing Perry Como’s old theme song: Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters…

Here’s what readers wanted to know:

– how to go about renting out an apartment in Brooklyn

– how to assess a house on the East End of Long Island for purchase as a seasonal rental property

– what items, when considering the purchase of an older house, are likely to be expensive to fix or re-do

I had a go, and you can read the answers right here, on casaCARA’s updated Q&A page.

Got a question related to old houses, interior design, renovation, gardening, rental property management, or real estate in general?  E-mail me at caramia447[at] gmail[dot]com, and I’ll give it my best shot.

The Insider: Carroll Gardens Mini-House

THIS WEEK, my BROWNSTONER column spotlights a c.1900 brick row house by architects Delson or Sherman with some very special features: a wall of stained glass discs by Lexington, KY-based glass artist Frank Close; a new cherry staircase with wide lower steps that create the illusion of a grand stair; a skylit top floor with a stone-walled meditation room; a new custom kitchen with an orange-and-brown color scheme; and a wall of storefront glass which replaces the original rear wall and makes the pocket-sized garden seem part of the living space.

To see the whole house from bottom to top, head right on over here.

The Real Deal: Sag Harbor Village Antique

I WAS ALERTED to this 2BR, 2 bath cottage in the coveted village of Sag Harbor by the Long Island real estate website, Curbed Hamptons, which has been very generous with links to my blog lately. Sotheby’s, the listing agent, claims it dates back to the 1790s. I believe it, though I wonder if that dormer was added later.

I include it here on casaCARA not as a real-estate listing — though it is indeed on the market, for 845K — but for its interior charms.

I think it’s what the French call bobo — bourgeois bohemian — and many a Hamptons house-hunter will not get it at all.

The genteely peeling place looks right off the pages of the unconventional British design magazine World of Interiors.

Personally, I don’t think it needs any renovation. It’s perfect just as it is, including the furnishings.

Go here for the listing, with photos of the rear of the cottage and the small (.16 acre) yard, and here to read Curbed’s characteristically juicy take on the prior ownership of the house.

BOTTOM FISHING: Cheapest House in East Hampton, 189K

MY PREVIOUS POST, “2nd Cheapest House in East Hampton,” begged the question: so what’s the cheapest house, bar none? There was no photo on the listing, so I went to take a look.

The house, a 1950s cottage with red asbestos shingles, is in visibly sad shape (unlike the 2nd cheapest, which I neglected to say in yesterday’s post, appears to be in move-in condition).

From my perambulations around its exterior, I have nothing to say about the 3BR, 2 bath house itself, except perhaps “eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww!”

The half-acre lot, however, wasn’t as hopeless as I had imagined. Yes, it’s on Springs Fireplace Road, which is often trafficky and certainly not considered desirable, but it’s not in the industrial section near the dump and the stoneyard. It’s in a residential area nearer the historic district, on a corner lot.

The house actually feels fairly secluded — or perhaps overgrown is the right term. The forsythia hedge in profuse bloom is a plus.

I’m just reporting here, not recommending. But if you want a house in the Hamptons for 189K or less, you can have one.