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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There's No Place Like Home

Japanese maple in my rear gardenIt took a five-hour drive to Vermont to discover that my best leaf-peeping this year was to be had in the Hamptons and in my own backyard.  The trip was planned during the summer.  The mid-October timing was suggested by historical schedules of past peak days.  Official Vermont web sites indicated that there was still plenty of colorful foliage to view just days before our departure.  It is true that we drove through some countryside in New York and Connecticut that could be considered at its peak.  However, by the time we got to our destination in Stowe Vermont, the trees were pretty bare with most of the remaining color coming from understory shrubs.  

The trip became more about eating than about peeping.  Maple syrup tasting, crisp apples from orchards, sampling of well-aged cheddar cheeses, luscious chocolate-coated caramels and plenty of warm cider donuts. My camera may have come back empty, but my stomach was quite full.

Luckily, two weeks after returning home the leaves in the Hamptons peaked and still continue to look great.  Brilliant yellow, red, and orange foliage provides gorgeous vignettes outside my windows.  And my drive to work is very enjoyable as I pass through the colorful canopies overhanging the country roads.  

I may have missed Vermont's signature splendor this year, but at least I'm getting an eyeful at home.  

Vermont vignette; beautiful but past its peak.


For those who have inquired about my lack of posting these past months, let's just say I stopped to smell the roses this past summer.  Thanks for asking.  I'll try to post more often. 




Woody House

An Italian-style vignetteI was loading a few older pictures onto my photo galleries and came across some that I took last summer at the Woody House in East Hampton.  I was there attending a fundraiser for the East Hampton Historical Society.  I really didn't know how spectacular this oceanfront garden would be before arriving.  In fact, I didn't even bring my better camera.  The pics I'm sharing today came from my Iphone.

Woody House is a property situated in East Hampton between the Atlantic Ocean and the estuary named Georgica Pond.  The main house sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  From there, a series of garden rooms flow downward towards the pond.  The garden design respects the natural hills and valleys of the property's coastal topography.

The original garden design was created by landscaper Ryan Gainey who collaborated with many craftsmen to create a very unique and custom garden that reflects the owners' taste for the exotic.  I was told that over the years this garden has continued to evolve and mature from the original design and is still a work in progress.  This is truly a fabulous and magical place.

Shell-encrusted fountain

Stairs surround a fountain and canal in the Mughal Garden

Channels of water run along the staircase

Whimsical birdhouse 

Roses wrap the front of the pond house


Colorful container at rear of pond house


Mughal Garden

Fragrant and colorful roses


Shade garden


"Ain't No Sunshine"

ClaytonIt’s a gloomy day here at my Hamptons garden.   Clayton, my older black schnauzer, passed away today.   He, like my garden, was 14 years old.  Over the past year he had been struggling with old age and dementia.  I’m so happy his suffering is over, but I really wasn’t ready for him to go.  I knew his eventual passing would be sad, but I never knew it would also hurt so much.

I think it is finally time for me to admit that this was actually Clayton’s garden.  I was just the caretaker.  No one loved being out in this garden more than Clayton.  Rain or shine, he was eager to go outside and play.  Even during the coldest days of winter, he would sit by the back door shaking with anticipation until someone let him out to roam.  Each time I came home after being away, Clayton would give me a quick greeting before darting outside to see what was going on in his domain.  He patrolled the garden, chasing away feisty squirrels, hungry bunnies or squawking crows.  This self-taught watchdog would run the fence perimeter barking incessantly at the deer on the other side, warning them that they were not welcome (although I also wondered sometimes if he didn’t see them as potential playmates). 

I’m so glad that God allowed him his first and only hunting triumph last spring before his senility set in.  Last April, I saw him proudly carrying around what I thought was a stuffed toy near the shed.   When I got closer, I realized it was a real rabbit in his mouth.  I was able to get him to release easily the stiff carcass from his limited teeth.  After studying it, I determined that Clayton didn’t kill this creature, but he must have found a dead body.   And although I surmised that this bunny died from natural causes days before, I pet my little hunter’s head, congratulating him on his big conquest. 

Clayton and my garden in their first year

Clayton has been here since the beginning of my garden pursuits.  Even when he was too little to get off the front porch, he would watch and bark from above while I mowed my first pathetic lawn.   Once he was bigger and the garden was fenced in, Clayton would explore the property for hours each time he went outside.  He was always busy.  He made me feel guilty every time I sat by the pool for a few minutes.  Sometimes you could hear barking in the distance or you would see him pop out of a perennial border near where I was sitting then quickly dart back into another planting bed.  While there were plenty of grassy paths throughout the garden, he had his own secret highway to get around.  Through the ferns, shrubs, and ornamental grasses he could get to the back garden without ever being seen.

Up until this past year, his hearing was amazing.  He would start barking as soon as he heard a friend or delivery driving up on the gravel drive.  Even when I was busy gardening in the back, I always knew when we had guests.  He usually beat me to the car park, barking and wagging his tail at the new arrival.  Everyone got the same enthusiastic greeting to his garden.

I give Clayton credit for teaching me a few important garden truths.  Plants are much tougher than I originally thought, surviving even after being trampled or dug up by an overactive terrier.  He also taught me that the garden should be enjoyed even when the plantings aren’t perfect or when weather isn’t ideal.  

It is going to be sad and lonely outside this summer without my little garden buddy.  But I will try to keep the garden going this season, if not for me, in remembrance of Clayton.

Taking an infrequent rest on top of the cooling grass

A bit tired last year from watching me plant all the containers

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