Artist Robert Dash’s Madoo Conservancy celebrates its 50th smashing season this summer!
The Asian bridge crosses a pond holding Win Knowlton’s bronze fountain Maple Branch.
“Madoo, which in an old Scots dialect means ‘My Dove,’ is the name of my garden,” wrote artist, poet, and gardener Robert Dash in his book Notes from Madoo: Making a Garden in the Hamptons. “I have gone about it as I would a painting, searching for form rather than prefiguring it, putting it through a process more intuitive than intellectual. The blunders are there to learn from; the successes, more often than not, are the result of bold throws.”
This summer Madoo—now known as the Madoo Conservancy—is celebrating 50 years since Dash purchased the just-shy-of-two-acre plot in Sagaponack. Tucked away south of the highway where the scent of the ocean permeates the air, the breathtaking gardens are a living, breathing artistic masterpiece. In the warmer months, the grounds are open to visitors who want to amble on secret walks along the Indian paths or stumble upon such delights as the Chinese bridge or gingko grove, a sculptural stand of fastigiate gingkos. An afternoon there is like embarking on a visual treasure hunt.
Madoo also offers painting classes for adults and youngsters, lectures by preeminent garden experts, and Monday-morning storytelling for children, as well as workshops in flower arranging and botanical Latin. There are off-season activities as well, such as a winter tree-identifying class, and art exhibitions. And although Dash died in 2013 at the age of 82, his spirit and guidance are still very present.
“I work to promulgate Bob’s vision,” explains Executive Director Alejandro Saralegui. “A garden is in constant flux unless you are insanely uptight. It keeps changing because it’s nature; one tree might win over another, or you need to start making choices as to what is a better plant.”
And with these transitions come decisions. “We’ve recently been doing a lot of restoration and are trying to bring it closer to Bob’s aesthetic vision,” notes Saralegui. “Sometimes we think we are doing a little ‘forensic gardening’ in terms of trying to decipher what the intention was. But the garden was his masterpiece, and all of his other influences come together. My goal is to make it an extraordinary property where people will come to learn and relax.” 618 Sagg Main St., Sagaponack, 537-8200