Under the 90-foot wrought-iron
pergola, covered with 50-year-old
wisteria, clematis and kiwi vines,
sits a beloved dining table that is
even used in the rain.
A bumblebee rests
on a lace-cap
Nepeta, iris and
smoke bush thrive in
the perennial border
A brilliant blue iris adds a
The Blanchards’ expansive lawn,
studded with cherry trees
The clear blue swimming
pool, surrounded by
flowering hydrangeas, is
framed in tree branches.
The Byzantine shape of the pool
inspired the Moroccan-tiled ceiling and
furnishings in the inviting pool house.
Kousa dogwood in full
bloom and an antique
Lily of the valley
surrounds an antique
birdbath. The house is
visible in the distance.
The hydrangea walk
with an antique
wellhead at the center
Smoke bush, nepeta and lavender curve around the driveway leading to the house of Jill Blanchard.
On a beautiful day this summer, women in hats and flats, carrying cameras and taking notes, descended on three properties for the Southampton Garden Club’s tour of memorable estates. The expedition, in late June, is one of many activities the club sponsors annually to inspire appreciation for the art of horticulture, and on this day, not one of the guests was disappointed with the stunning landscapes they saw.
An Historical Renovation
The first stop, the garden of Jill Blanchard sits on a historic property built at the turn of the 20th century for Miss Rosalie Coe. Recently, the landscape architecture firm Kelly Varnell Virgona Inc. renovated and reconfigured the gardens surrounding the house and barn to highlight the estate’s original features. A green yew hedge provides the perfect background for a border of perennials that blooms with sunny, old-fashioned favorites. New and transplanted trees—like saucer magnolia, Japanese tree lilac, shadblow, red maple and styrax japonica—dot the property. Ferns proliferate in shady areas, while weeping Japanese cherry trees add form and texture with their delicate cascading branches. The redesigned gardens make a lush and glamorous setting for the Blanchards’ outdoor gatherings.
The next property on the tour, Beechwood, owned by Robin and John Pickett, sits on 4.6 acres and was originally part of a grand, untouched Southampton estate. Stately 150-year-old copper beech trees create a magnificent allée between the main house and the pool house and tennis court. In keeping with the property’s name, the new owners planted several other varieties of beech trees, including weeping oak, fern leaf and American beech. They also put in a full panoply of other trees and lush plantings that include zelkovas, cryptomeria, horse chestnut, Chinese elm, Nellie Stevens holly, star and Dr. Merrill magnolia, willow oaks, Japanese maple, dogwood, dawn redwood, Pin oaks, golden rain, crab apple and crepe myrtle. The margins of a garden walk are carpeted in hosta, astilbe, lily of the valley and other shade-loving perennials, while European statuary creates dramatic focal points. Original hydrangeas were replanted, and the addition of many more varieties, including peegees, produces lush blooms and color all season long.
Vintage Cottage Charm
The last stop is a landmark 1880 Shingle Style beach cottage, one of the first in Southampton’s summer colony. Designed with the help of esteemed landscape architect Deborah Nevins, the gardens here demonstrate just how much magic a designer can work on a single acre.
Visitors enter through a privet hedge onto a front lawn and face the house’s 100-foot-long front porch—bordered by floribunda hydrangeas, draped with Dutchman’s Pipe and shaded on its octagonal south end by purple Chinese wisteria. Ornamental cherry trees were preserved to anchor the front lawn, and London Plane trees shade a walk leading to the beach. Flowering shrubs such as Burning Bush, Viburnum, Korean and Miss Kim lilac and indigenous rosa rugosa (beach roses) in magenta and pink form a border facing east. Vinca, English and American ivy and Bowles Myrtle are used as ground cover all over the property. A Charlotte apple tree shades a playhouse on the east lawn. Viburnum and 10-foot white roses of Sharon form a west-facing border for the pool area, further braced by Calfornia privet. Sixty-five-year-old wisteria, Virginia Creeper and clematis cover the 90-foot-long wrought-iron pergola, which sits adjacent to the pool. The west-facing border, which flanks the 65-year-old grapevine- and clematis-covered gate, forms the entrance to the pool area.
Behind the house sits a formal rose garden brimming with Tropicana and David Austin’s Summer Song, Abraham Darby, Heritage and Fair Bianca roses. Brick paths outlined with hedges of sheered California privet define the space, while clipped boxwood separates the flower beds. New Dawn roses and clematis climb interior pyramids, and a Rosa Banksiae Lutea covers a westfacing wall of the house. Cathy Warren of Broadview Gardens cares for all of the garden’s flowers, while Bill Miller of Bill Miller & Associates looks after the property’s trees, hedges and shrubs.