Good Fences Make Good Gardens


GOOD FENCES may or may not make good neighbors, but good deer fences definitely make good gardens.


A friend here just told me how her husband, fired up with enthusiasm the very first day they moved to a wooded lot in Springs 20 years ago, planted vegetable seedlings, saying “I’ll put up a fence tomorrow.” The next morning, of course, there was nothing to put a fence around.

I’ve decided not to plant anything at all this year. This fall and winter, when I’ve had a chance to figure out just what I want, and when the landscape contractors’ business slows down, I’m going to focus my resources on four things:

  • a gravel driveway/parking court
  • a flagstone patio and paths
  • removal of 4 or 5 large trees to gain more sunlight
  • a proper 8′ tall deer fence around the entire property, including a gate across the driveway

I’m convinced it’s the way to go. Otherwise, between the deer and the shade, I’ll be limited to ferns and a few other things. (Go here for the most comprehensive article on deer fencing I’ve found.)

I know my list is ambitious. Based on prior estimates and hearsay, I’ll be lucky if I can do all that for $20,000. It may end up taking me longer than I’d like. Meanwhile, I’m looking around at what others have done to make deer fences go away, visually, and deer go away altogether.

Imagining a Landscape

MY FRIEND MARY-LIZ CAMPBELL is here in Springs, with her mighty arm and genius eye (not to mention her marking paint and tape in festive colors of neon orange and pink). Mary-Liz is a professional landscape designer based in Rye, N.Y., and she can see things about my future garden I can’t (take a look at her own gorgeous garden here).

While I have a hard time seeing beyond what’s already there — a straight-ahead driveway, narrow paths, and stingy beds — Mary-Liz sees a gravel parking court, generous planting beds, a circular flagstone patio, even a gate and arbor leading from the side of the house to the backyard.


She also sees more sun, with the removal of several large trees I hadn’t even contemplated, not wanting to mess with the forest (I also tend to see dollar signs as she outlines the grand scheme).

I’m timid where she’s confident. She took a lopper to my giant rhodies and overgrown andromeda, letting in more light and air. I’d be afraid it wasn’t the right time of year to prune, or that I’d take too much and kill them.

As we watched a deer munch its way across my property yesterday, I think we both saw a deer fence.


We’ve been inspired, on this visit, by a couple of fabulous gardens — one, a private estate on Springs Fireplace Road, by Oehme, van Sweden, the avant garde landscape firm known for sweeping drifts of ornamental grasses and flowering perennials. We went back there twice to drive around the perimeter of the property and spy what we could through the fence.

Last night in the Village of East Hampton, we ooh’ed and aah’ed over the Mimi Meehan native plant garden behind the 18th century Clinton Academy, in mid-July bursting with orange and yellow butterfly weed, day lilies, coreopsis, helianthus and more, all indigenous to Long Island.

BROWNSTONE VOYEUR: Flying Colors in Fort Greene


BROWNSTONE VOYEUR is a joint project of casaCARA and Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, taking you behind the facades of those intriguing houses to see what’s inside. Look for it every Thursday on both sites!


DK HOLLAND’S house is the kind of place that makes people say, “I can’t believe this is New York City.”


The property consisted of three lots when DK bought it in 1990: a three-story, 1,800-square-foot building that was a tack house before the Civil War; a one-story structure, originally a stable, now occupied by Olea, a Mediterranean restaurant; and a vacant lot in between, on which DK built a wooden extension with a new kitchen and side porch, “grafted on”  to the original brick house, and created an enclosed garden with a flagstone patio.


DK did a top-to-bottom renovation in 2002-4. She added the front porch and opened up the second floor as a loftlike bedroom/study. The renovation exposed original brick and ceiling beams, which she painted white, and she retained later 19th century additions, including wainscoting and staircases. The furnishings are country-ish, bought mostly at auction in Vermont.


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