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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2013 ARF Garden Tour

After days of rain and clouds, last Saturday was finally a beautiful sunny day. Perfect day for the annual Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) garden tour in East Hampton.

While on these tours, I always look for specific ideas to bring back home to my own Hamptons garden. Sometimes a garden on tour is quite grand, but I still usually find an idea or two that may enhance my humble landscape.  Here are few of the things that caught my eye on this tour.


This garden designed by Michael Derrig isn't large put packs a lot of ideas into the landscape.  For me, the entrance was my favorite part.  It has such curb appeal.  Glossy black painted gates, planters and doors provide quiet but glamorous accents.  The large pavers in the entrance courtyard are widely spaced so that grass can grow between. This look is softer and more dramatic than a fully paved surface.  

Perfectly chiseled stone walls create nice boundaries. I especially like the planters built into these walls as they help break up long expanses of stone. 

Great curb appeal

Black accents are a great complement to green foliage.

Planters built into the stone walls


The beach front house of Alexandra Munroe and Robert Rosenkranz utilizes several gardening styles on their expansive property.  You enter through a naturalistic meadow of grasses and wildflowers.  While this natural style looks like it's created from neglect, it actually takes quite a bit or management to look this good.  Up on the next part of the property is a croquet court.  How fun would this be?  A guest house is surrounded by a colorful cottage garden.  At the rear of the house, the plantings are rustic and simple like those you would normally find among dunes.  No need for dramatic plantings there as the ocean is the key focal point. 

Beautiful Baptisia australis blooming in the wildflower field

Cottage garden surrounds the guest house

Croquet, anyone?


The garden of landscaper Craig Socia is filled with outdoor rooms with each providing visitors a new visual treat.  It is definitely a garden that is well-crafted and cared for. Shrubbery is neatly shaped.  Planters are filled with dramatic plantings.  Pocketed throughout the property are works of craftsmen in the form of gates, stone walls, and wooden benches.  Not a corner of this garden is neglected.  You could find beautiful flowers blooming even in the work areas.

Stone entrance to a guest house

Dramatically painted shed doorway One of several custom benches made from tree branches


Craig Socia, whose garden was described above, also designed this three-acre garden of Peter Wilson and Scott Sanders.  Shrubbery is the primary theme here, creating an Asian-style garden.  Red Japanese maples add color among the mostly evergreen borders.  Nepeta add some fresh purple accents.  A rustic bridge to the tennis court has railings made in the same manner as the rustic style benches in Socia's own garden.  A sunken hot tub surrounded by well-chosen plantings proves that outdoor whirlpools needn't be eye sores. 

Asian-style shrub borders surround the pool house

Rustic bridge leads to tennis courts

A properly placed and landscaped hot tub

I'll post soon some more pictures from this tour in my photo gallery of Garden Tours (tab at top of blog). Enough tours this month, now it's time for me to spend a little more time in my own garden.


Name that Vine

Unknown honeysuckle with salvia 'Blue Hill' and coral bells 'Palace Purple'If you know the name of this golden honeysuckle pictured in this post, please share.

Every spring, this beautiful and fragrant honeysuckle blooms abundantly in my front garden.  Its sweet scent fills the air, making my walk to and from the car park so enjoyable. People ask me all the time the name of this honeysuckle.  I honestly don't remember.  I do remember buying this vine online, but not sure which nursery.  In an effort to identify this, I searched through the inventories of some of my favorite online suppliers.

I did read from one supplier that the Chinese honeysuckle Lonicera tragophylla was described as having abundant golden blossoms tinged with red like mine. But from what I can tell this Chinese species is an unscented honeysuckle and mine is definitely a heavy perfumer. 

Its lack of a proper name doesn't diminish its impact on my early summer garden.  This vine starts blooming in early June and continues for about a month.  It grows robustly (as you can see it needs a nice pruning, but didn't want to jeopardize its spring blooms so will cut it back some in the fall).

If you know the name of my honeysuckle, I hope you will post a comment.  Other than for curiosity sake, I guess it doesn't really matter. Shakespeare's Juliet said it best, "A rose (or vine in this case) by any other name would smell as sweet". 

Golden blooms tinged in red Miscanthus "Morning Light' and a white butterfly bush surround this vine in front


Gone Fishin'

Garden designer, writer, and TV personality P. Allen Smith suggests adding a bit of whimsy to your garden to make it more personal and interesting.  When I saw some ceramic fish installed among perennials at one of the landscaped displays at the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, I knew these aquatic creatures would be a fun addition to my garden.  I sought out the booth that was selling these fish and found quite an assortment from which to choose.  

Fish in The Garden produces fish in metal, wood and ceramic.  Some were more suited for outdoors like the ceramic fish I chose. These can easily stay outside in the rain (they said they can remain outside during winter, but I think it would be best to store them inside during freezing temperatures).  They offer several lifelike fish species produced in ceramic: trout, koi, and salmon. I chose koi with a blue crystalline glaze.  This finish is produced by firing a zinc glaze at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours.  The result is a crystalline coating that looks like fish scales.

Fish in the Garden supplies stands but they were too short for my needs.  I constructed a similar stand with small block of wood supported by two rods inserted into the bottom.  Metal dowels were too expensive so I took the orange driveway markers you find at the hardware store, painted them black and inserted them into the blocks.  An open cavity in the bottom of these ceramic fish allow the sculptures to be easily placed on the supporting stands.

I had divided and transferred some ostrich ferns to a hillside bed earlier in spring. These ferns make a wonderful setting for my school of blue koi, resembling underwater plants.  I had once thought this hillside garden bed would be a great place for a small waterfall.  I guess you could say I got my "water" feature after all, but for a lot less work and money.

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