Jamee Gregory's Flower Box Finds
by Jamee Gregory
Did you know that flowers can stop traffic? Just ask Francesca Pauli of the ever-crowded Sant Ambroeus or Kathleen King of the alwaysfull Tate’s Bake Shop. Both ladies command attention with their delicious culinary treats, but both also share a love of beautiful flowers.
Pauli and her husband, Hans, opened the superb Italian restaurant in Southampton in 1993; the lush garden came soon after. “People always stop and ask who does it,” she says. “They look and pause, even touching the window boxes. Flowers finish the effect. Ours are always fresh and have been perfectly tended for nearly 20 years by Elizabeth Yastrzemski, who comes by every morning, constantly adjusting, caring for the outdoor and indoor arrangements.”
At Sant Ambroeus, Yastrzemski is given free reign, creating a lovely Italian garden in the long passage to the side of the restaurant. Blossoming baskets and planters with tumbling greenery that spill from above and climb up along the brick walls create the feeling of countryside dining in Capri or Tuscany. The gorgeous window boxes on Main Street, filled to the brim with double-pink rosebud impatiens, begonias, petunias, fuchsia, and blue scaevola, are as appealing and tempting as the famous homemade gelati and pastas waiting inside. “It wouldn’t be the same without flowers,” says Pauli. “Waiters need space, so my vines—love-in-a-puff and cup-and-saucer— rest on the pergolas; no delicate plants on the sides. Upright fuchsia survives the action. I love pink with blue and purple.”
Opened in 1979, Tate’s Bake Shop’s King has entrusted the gardens and planters to Kim Jon Designs since 1998. The designers follow King’s directives, aiming for an English country garden style—profuse, colorful, and free flowing. “The gardens are an integral part of the bake shop, always seasonal, drawing people to stop and look,” says King. “It’s a big plus for me. I love it, and take pride in the gardens, as well as my products.”
The husband-and-wife duo of Kim Jon Designs, Jon Malkmes and Kim Solomito, understand King’s aesthetic, choosing plantings that survive the crowds. Mandevilla, salvia, climbing roses, geraniums, and fuchsia on either side of the door create conversation points that draw passing cars. Ilex hedges, yellow iris, astilbe, nepeta, and hydrangea add color and texture. “I want to be eye-catching, echoing Kathleen’s country style and the quaint building,” says Malkmes.
“Jon understands my vision, checking on his creations each day,” echoes King. “My customers connect with the flowers.” Elizabeth Yastrzemski, Southampton, 283-8240; Kim Jon Designs, 266 Roses Grove Road, Water Mill, 283-8803
photography by eric striffler