Jump Start to the Season: My Long Island Garden


THE PAST FEW WEEKS at my home on the East End of Long Island, New York, have been a revelation. I hadn’t spent much time here in April or early May before, even though I’ve owned this quirky house for five years, so the seasonal developments on this half-acre of former oak woods are new to me.

There’s more birdsong than I remember, and I’m amazed at how fast the garden has gone from wintry brown to everything-happening-all-at-once to practically jungle-like. Above, as it looked about a month ago.

The trees were bare when I arrived, and I enjoyed the unaccustomed brightness of the property and the parade of flowers I normally miss: bleeding heart, epimedium, Solomon’s seal, ekianthus.

Seeing the tiny white flowers of the local ground cover, lowbush blueberry, gave me a new appreciation of it. It’s all over the place. I had originally thought I’d gradually replace it with other plantings, but it’s more firm in its intention to remain than I am in mine to remove it.


Above, lowbush blueberry; ekianthus; epimedium 

The  floral procession continues, with allium, broom and irises now having their day, and rhododendrons soon to peak.

The trees are now fully leafed out, with native oaks, sassafras, cedars and maples seeding themselves everywhere. For a moment, instead of pulling them all out and tossing them, as I have been doing, I envisioned a new business called the Paper Cup Nursery, selling tiny tree seedlings by the roadside. For a moment.

I’ve rented the house for July and August. Now it remains for me to enjoy being here until the end of June, which won’t be difficult. I opened the gate the other day and, for a nanosecond, spotting two teak chaises in the sun, didn’t know where I was. What resort is this?! was the thought that ran through my head.

Then I remembered. I’m home. I’m back to yard sales, walks, sunset picnics and my favorite position on the deck, surveying my domain at the end of a day of weeding, glass of wine in hand.

Four to six weeks ago:


Two to three weeks ago:




Below, practically an instant garden: hostas and ferns planted late last fall where once there was nothing at all


About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Jump Start to the Season: My Long Island Garden

  1. Caren says:

    Wonderful post. I enjoyed it nearly as much as sitting on one of those comfy chaises!

  2. Mary-Liz says:


  3. Elke Kuhn says:

    So glorious, I see so many of my favorites.Irises, Allium, and my very favorite…Lilly of the Valley which I so rarely find. You are a giant in ambition…..the fact you tackled this unusual house and 1/2 acre to landscape…ASTOUNDING….a grand accomplishment❤️💜💚💙♥️😘

  4. Karen Zebulon says:

    So beautiful. Your July and August guests will be in heaven!

  5. Marianne Davies says:

    I just love how your garden looks!! Many of my favorites!! Enjoy he month of June!! I look forward to your e-mails! You have a very nice life! 💗💗💗💗😊🎂

  6. Nancy says:

    Amazing how much has changed since I was there a few weeks ago! It’s so lovely!

  7. Charlotte says:

    Cara, how beautiful. I groan to think of all the work you’ve had to do… the lifting and hauling and all the kneeling. I would love to see it in person… maybe this autumn? BRAVO

  8. Dorothee van Mol says:

    Really gorgeous! I am around this week, would love to stop by!



  9. Stephanie Mueller says:

    This is gorgeous! Thx for sharing…

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