LongHouse Redux


ONCE A SEASON at LongHouse Reserve, the 16-acre ornamental and sculpture garden in East Hampton, N.Y., masterminded by textile designer/scholar/collector Jack Lenor Larsen, is not enough. (That’s Larsen’s Shinto temple-inspired house, above).

I visited LongHouse for the first time last May, when azaleas and roses were among the main attractions. I returned a couple of weeks ago, and found it less riotously colorful, perhaps, but still awe-inspiring. Late summer/early fall is the time to appreciate late-blooming hydrangeas, ornamental grasses in their prime, elephant ears and annual vines at maximum size and spread.




Below, how the dry Mediterranean garden looks in late August. I love that LongHouse “allows” some of the lambs-ear-like plants I’ve been thinking of as weeds in these beds; it’s making me reconsider pulling them out where they’ve colonized a sunny section of my lawn.


Here’s one of the monumental sculptures I neglected to photograph back in May. “Summer Bridge,” below, a 1983 work by Claus Bury, was created when the German artist was just 19 years old.


Another of the many takeaways from LongHouse: lots of ideas for paving and paths, including slate pieces set in gravel, below, done so beautifully here.


You have until October 9, when LongHouse closes for the season, to visit and be wowed. Hours are short: Wednesdays and Sundays only from 2-5PM. Admission is $10. So well worth it.

Art + Nature = LongHouse Bliss


THE OLDER I GET, the wiser I get — and the more I realize how foolish I was before. Until last weekend, for example, I thought sculpture in gardens was unnecessary — that horticultural beauty trumped man-made art every time. That was before I visited LongHouse Reserve, the 16-acre ‘designed landscape’ owned by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen that completely changed my view of the interaction of art and nature, and enhanced my appreciation of both.


Dale Chihuly’s glass balls and gourds in a rowboat

First surprise: the place turns out to be not three miles from where I live, off Hands Creek Road in the Northwest Woods section of East Hampton.


George Rickey’s kinetic sculpture in the “Dunes”

The entire spread is a three-dimensional work of art, startlingly beautiful and original. And varied: the first bold stroke, as you enter, is a dunescape created around the Shinto temple-inspired home, top, Larsen built in 1986 (he’s owned the property since 1970). The dunes are planted with trees and shrubs, so there must be some kind of more fertile, anchoring medium underneath.

In many places, the choice of materials is the simplest imaginable. Steps made of railroad ties and gravel. Benches of cut logs. Arbors of twisted rebar, below.


The plantings are largely indigenous, familiar if not native. So many different gardens within the 16 acres: Dry scree (gravel) beds, below, with chartreuse euphorbia in peak bloom now.


Shady fern-filled groves, below.


The gaudy Red Garden, a riot of clashing azaleas punctuated by red pillars (Larsen’s own Study in Heightened Perspectives). A grassy ‘amphitheatre’ sculpted out of the earth. Dells, canyons, allees, lawns, borders, paths, ponds, and pools. One area flows smoothly into another, yet somehow each surprises you as you come upon it.


Black Mirror, water feature by Ray Smith & Assocs.

The sculpture never looks out of place or forced or self-conscious, but magnificently chosen, scaled, and sited. There are many famous names among the 60 large-scale installations: glass by Dale Chihuly, a Willem de Kooning bronze, ceramics by Takaezu, an all-white chess set by Yoko Ono (Play it by Trust), works by Sol LeWitt, Louise Bourgeois, Peter Voulkos. Not inscrutable modern art, but accessible and wholly delightful.


Sol LeWitt’s Irregular Progression High #7, 2006, concrete

In a small museum attached to the house, 2,500 years of African ceramics are on display for the summer season, along with American artist George Rickey’s stainless steel kinetic sculptures — five of them throughout the grounds.


Contemporary African sculpture

Until July, LongHouse is open only six hours a week, Wednesday and Saturday from 2-5PM. You couldn’t spend a more inspiring afternoon.


Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, produced by John Kuhtik


SO MANY INTRIGUING THINGS cross my desk (or inbox) that I’d like to share, but I already have 50-plus drafts for blog posts and it’s getting out of hand.

So I’m going to try something new on the weekends: a round-up of short items of interest (usually Saturday, but this week Sunday, because I had a pre-move stoop sale yesterday that kept me away from the computer).

Let me know what you think.



This is what you can get in Roxbury, N.Y. (2-1/2 hours from the GWB) for $599K: 13 acres in a serene valley with non-stop views in all directions, plus rolling pastures, stone walls, deeded rights to 3-acre pond, and a 19th century dairy barn.


Don’t want to renovate? You don’t have to. The 4BR, 2 bath farmhouse is fully restored with all new mechanicals, high-end kitchen (Wolf range, etc.), original cabinetry, hardware and floors.

The whole set-up (including the barn) is “triple mint.”

Go here for details and lots more pics.




South Beach not your style? Stay at Magic City Farm in Miami’s Little Haiti section, where a cluster of 1918 cottages and a boathouse along the Little River is available for rentals, as it has been for decades.

A onetime citrus farm, now owned by former New Yorker Tamara Hendershot, it’s also an animal rescue farm, quirky sculpture garden, popular spot for photo shoots, and celebrity draw (David Byrne and photographer Cindy Sherman have spent the day).

For more info, click here.



The Beatrix Farrand Garden Association sponsors a series of garden lectures at the home of FDR in Hyde Park, N.Y., made more delightful by wine and hors d’oeuvres, or tea and cake, served in the garden afterwards. Upcoming this spring:

Tulipomania: Banking with Bulbs During the Golden Age of Dutch Culture, April 26 at 2pm

Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement, June 7 at 2pm

For complete info, go here.