Garden Wisdom

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.."  -Alfred Austin



About Me

Jeff, Gardener in Chief

Contrary to popular opinion, some people in the Hamptons enjoy getting their hands dirty. I'm a self-taught gardener in East Hampton, NY that enjoys sharing my gardening experiences and inspiration with others. Hope you enjoy my blog and galleries.

Read more about me and my garden here.


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2011 ARF Garden Tour

During the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons garden tour this year,  visitors got a good look into some fantastic private gardens.  Many of these gardens were designed by prominent landscape architects.  I thought I'd share a few of the things that caught my eye.

This pool in the garden of Domna Stanton was spectacular.  Not oversized, but very unique.  Not just another rectangle gunite swimming pool.  Like a moat adjacent to a small Medieval castle.  The pool and pool house were designed by Scott Johnson.

Fantasy pool in Bridgehampton

The other pool area that caught my eye was in the garden of Diane and Craig Solomon. The gunite swimming pool, bluestone patio and surrounding plantings created a very clean, modern and tranquil experience.  Modern is never as simple as it looks, but it does looks like a low-maintenance dream.


A modern garden gate in this garden provided a striking and unique entrance to and from the car park.

Simplicity in Sagaponack
A modern garden gate

The Asian-inspired garden of Susan and Stan Reifer was a big surprise.  I hadn't seen anything like it it the Hamptons before.  Designed by Jian Guo Xu, the garden treated visitors to a Chinese garden experience.  I found the Asian sculptures posted along the hollies a great idea to break up a long expanse of hedges.

The stone mosaics embedded in the paths were a creative departure from the typical bluestone used throughout the Hamptons. It looked like each design took weeks to create by a skilled mason with an artistic flair.

Asian-style statues guard a holly hedge
Stone mosaics in the pathways

Speaking of stone,  I found a great idea for one of my own steeper grass paths.  In the garden of Karen and Herb Friedman, designed by Jack deLashmet & Associates, large pieces of bluestone were trenched into the hill making the grade more manageable.  I liked that they were informally but purposely placed, allowing grass and plantings to grow between the stone.  This created a very natural look.


Making the grade with bluestones




What's Your Favorite Coneflower?

'B's Knees'Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) have always been a favorite. They have a natural quality,  yet can add a punch of color to a mixed planting. Mine bloom in partial sun and full sun.  Up to this year, I have only planted two varieties, including the species and 'Magnus'.

However, wanting a smaller version for a new planting bed, I stumbled across a new variety called 'B's Knees' at a local Bridgehampton nursery.  They're already blooming!  The color is a much darker magenta than the color of the others.  Each plant is producing quite a few buds so it should be a long-blooming plant.

So what varieties are you growing? 

'B's Knees' echinacea with 'Six Hills' Giant' Nepeta

New blossoms provide a lighter contrasting color and shape.


Summer Blooming Azaleas

Sweet Azalea growing among big leaf rhododendron.

Beautiful blooms with a sweet fragrance.

I was unaware of summer blooming azaleas when I was growing up.  In the South, the most prominent were the Japanese evergreen variety that bloomed in spring.  In my quest to find colorful, fragrant plants native to the Northeast, I discovered swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum).

I've added several more native American varieties since then.  Ironically, my favorite, Sweet Azalea (Rhododendron arborescens), grows wild in the South.  The fragrant white flowers are in bloom now.  Blooms are white with red filaments.  They bloom better with some sun.  The growth rate is slow which I like since I want them up front and center.  With a little pruning my Sweet Azaleas are about four feet after seven years.  Meadowbrook Nursery is a great mail-order source for these and other native shrubs.

I bought the book, American Azaleas by L. Clarence Towe, a few years ago.  Great pictures and descriptions of some native azaleas as well as good advice on growing these.

I have already picked out some new ones for next year!