A Bridge Not Far Enough


IT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE I WAS SO THOROUGHLY WOWED by a recent visit to LongHouse Reserve, a 16-acre masterpiece of landscape design, that Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, N.Y., a 22-year-old, five-acre garden designed by Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens and recently donated to the Peconic Land Trust, struck me as a bit underwhelming.


The layout seems to break one of the most hallowed rules of garden design, which is that the whole thing should not be revealed all at once. At Bridge Gardens, once you’re through an impressive perimeter hedge of European beech, above, the majority of the property is right there before you: a vast stretch of lawn with a lavender parterre and a rose rondel, top, with some 800 species of antique and modern roses (great if you’re a rose aficionado — I’m not). That’s the Outer Garden, which also includes a bank of lilacs in fragrant bloom and a fun collection of yew topiaries, below.


The Inner Garden, around a post-modern building that is the gardener’s residence and an education center, was more interesting to me, particularly a meticulous multi-colored knot garden, below, mulched with broken clam shells. There’s a reflecting pool, a ‘bamboo room,’ and a woodland garden area to explore.


It took my friend Debre and me less than an hour to explore it all, and we were dilly-dallying.


Bridge Gardens would be a wonderful venue for a wedding or big party (it’s available for hire), with all that open space, and serious plantspeople will find much to fascinate them, but as a work of inspiring landscape design, it didn’t knock this jaded garden-tourist out.


Home Improvements

IMG_0816THIS MORNING I WAS GREETED BY A SURPRISE VISITOR: a 4-foot foxglove in sudden, outrageous bloom in the woods just beyond my property line. Reading up on it, I came upon the phrase “naturalistic woodland garden.” That’s what I want to create here; that’s what’s suited to this site, which, though south-facing, has very few spots for plants that require full sun.

Shade-tolerant and deer-resistant will be my watchwords as I figure out what to plant. Columbine is easy, self-sowing, as I learned upstate. Meadow rue I’ve never tried, but here in Zone 7 I might, along with chartreuse bursts of spurge, which I love (hope the deer don’t) but have never had any success with.

Yesterday, with the help of a pickax-wielding friend, I did further battle against wisteria roots, uprooted overabundant barberries, moved ferns out of the area where I want eventually to put a patio and into what I call the ‘fern glade.’

Over the past few days there have been quite a few vital home improvements. I now have HEAT, for one. Yes, it’s June, but on Tuesday, when Charles the plumber made my furnace operational for the first time since I got here in mid-May, it was chilly and raw, and I immediately put the thermostat up to 70 and basked in the warmth. (That was too warm; I soon put it down again to 65.)

Thanks to Tom the electrician, I now have a light at my front entry. I have a washer and dryer – oh, the convenience – and a stove. The refrigerator question is still open; Sears is coming to pick up the noisy Whirlpool beast on Sunday, and I will replace it with something quieter and more high-end, as soon as I can focus on it.

Read up on foxgloves here.