Four Stunning Hamptons Gardens
BY JAMEE GREGORY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSH LEHRER
The enchanting pool pavilion flanked by urns invites guest to pause and rest, and take in the garden views.
The East End is world-renowned for its breathtaking gardens, but come summer, those famous hedgerows obscure them from view. Hence the appeal of Parrish Art Museum’s annual Landscape Pleasures, a program that every June explores the relationship between art and nature—and provides an all-access ticket to some of the area’s most stunning properties. This year’s tour and symposium opened the gardens of four interior designers who put their artistic stamp on their respective landscapes, extending their visions beyond the interiors for which they are known.
The Sag Harbor garden of Steven Gambrel took my breath away. Arriving at the door of a charming traditional home surrounded by gaslights, I passed through the picket fence to a vast lawn with an uninterrupted view of the water. Limiting his palette to boxwoods brought here in the 18th and 19th centuries by sailing ships, Gambrel created a contemporary vision, adding volume and drama by clipping the boxwoods and linking the house to the beautiful vista of Upper Sag Harbor Cove. Large, flat stones connect land and water, a reference to the ballast stones that filled 19th-century boats.
Wind off the cove would harm most flowers, so Gambrel collected more than 300 boxwoods, hostas, elephant ears, shells, driftwood, stone troughs and urns, creating a harmonious, peaceful scene that looks as if it had been there forever, deposited by nature. A guesthouse, a dining pavilion, a lap pool and an herb garden are studded with English lead and stone planters, many filled with large boxwoods. Whimsical touches abound, like staghorn ferns mounted on outdoor terrace walls and resembling antlers in an English den; stones from India; planters from Europe; colored glass bowls;and balls, boat chains and ropes. Herb, fig and espaliered trees add to an unbroken green landscape—proof that a bevy of perennials is not the only way to create a dynamic garden.
JOHN BARMAN AND KELLY GRAHAM
Designer John Barman and Kelly Graham transformed the site of Sagaponack’s first transatlantic Marconi wireless station, which received SOS calls during the sinking of the Titanic, into a charming Moroccaninspired house and garden, bordering peaceful fields and minutes from the roaring ocean. Rather than turning their backs on the environs, Barman and Graham used sloped 12-foot hedges to guide one’s eyes across the scene. Using familiar plants like Montauk daisy, geraniums and impatiens in bold colors like red, and climbing vines like clematis in white, they created a country landscape with sophisticated touches: Black-and-white Moroccan tiles line the pool, while arching water jets offer movement, light and sound. Maples underplanted with white impatiens add light; a Virginia fieldstone terrace provides sharp definition; ferns and a flowering cherry tree, an original birdbath by the pool, day lilies and astilbe create a secluded area for dining, lounging and enjoying the view. Local stonemasons also raised walls by the pool, adding depth.
“The simpler I get it, the more I like it!” says Barman, who used more of the same plants to establish soothing corners, begging the eye to pause and relax, and bringing a sophisticated European vibe to bridge his intricate interiors and the tranquil pastures of one of Long Island’s last great farms. “It takes a lot of work to keep it looking simple.”