With her 85th book scheduled to be released this fall and the sale of her namesake company underway, Martha Stewart gives us an exclusive peek at her freshly redesigned Lily Pond Lane garden and a look at her next chapter.
Samantha Yanks: It’s been five years since our first cover with you, shot right here in the Hamptons home you’ve owned for 25 years. How did you find your first East End house? Martha Stewart: This is the oldest house on Lily Pond Lane, and when I bought it, it was also known as the wreck of Lily Pond Lane. It had about 25 rooms, all tiny. It was built in 1878 by a minister who came to East Hampton in the summers. [He would travel] by train to Bridgehampton and then by horse and buggy from Bridgehampton to here. It appealed to me tremendously because I like the wrecks of the best street.
Do you remember the first time you saw the house? I had first come to Lily Pond by mistake, right after I got married in 1961. I had gotten lost. We were staying in Westhampton at my husband’s sister’s house, and I went for a drive and ended up on this beautiful street with a pond, wonderful hedges, and a perennial garden. And I said to myself, Wouldn’t it be great to have a house on the street? When I bought this, it didn’t occur to me until later that it was the same place.
It’s a perfect refection of you now, but how long did that process take? I called about four or five different contractors, and the one I loved the best was Ben Krupinski (99 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 324-3656). He came driving up in his truck—most of the others came in a Mercedes or a Jaguar—swaggering up to the house. [The others would say], “Oh yeah, we can do this, but it’s a really big job; it’s a mess, and maybe you should tear it down.” Ben came in and said, “I used to polish the foors in this house for the lady who lived here. I loved this house.”
He had a truly personal connection to it. Yes, and I asked, “Can you really make it livable?” He said, “Certainly, no problem,” which I then fixed to him as his motto. He said it would take about a year, and he finished ahead of time.
What’s your favorite thing about having a house here? This street is the most beautiful street to walk on at 6 am with the dogs—very few cars, a few surfers with their CB radios on to find out where the waves are, but very pleasant. We go on the beach until 8 am. Everybody with a dog is on the beach, and those are the people you want to talk to early in the morning.
Would you say it’s a more private-time place for you than your homes in Westchester and Maine? I love having a lot of people at the house, but not too frequently because I really like to use this as a place of restoration. And I love having my grandchildren out here. They’re great swimmers, and they love the beach and the pool.
Compared to the last time we were here, there seems to be a focus on the outdoor space as an oasis almost more than the house. You’ve made a lot of changes. The first oasis here was the rose garden. I had not really concentrated on roses on my Turkey Hill property. I had grown a tremendous number of perennials; I had colorful, vibrant gardens up there, à la Monet, but not so many roses. When I came here, I was told roses grow really well in East Hampton.
Yes, the salty air. The air, the soil, the good drainage, and as long as you feed them and give them their Epsom salts—their magnesium sulfate, a big dosage of it for each plant every year—you get shiny leaves, pretty bug-free, and gorgeous. I collected 900 different kinds of roses. But after 25 years, the roses started to get a little scraggly, even with great care. They bloomed only once a year, were thorny, and were a bit of a problem for little kids. So my daughter said, “Let’s make some more grass and get rid of the thorns.”
How are your peonies this year? Oh, they’re the best they’ve ever been. And I redid the garden with much more green, more trees. I’ve started a Japanese maple collection. I love the color of the dark reds and oranges. It seems larger than it is, too—it’s an acre. I live on 150 acres in Bedford, and I feel like that’s what I wish I had here; if only I had that much land out here, it would be so much fun to have a real farm on the sea.
But there’s also tremendous respect for the natural fow from your property to the street. The maintenance of the town is, to me, the most quintessential and beautiful part of the Hamptons. And the thing I love the most out here are the nurseries. Every time I’m out here, I go to them.
Do you have a favorite? I go to Marders (120 Snake Hollow Road, Bridgehampton, 537- 3700), of course. Charlie [Marder] has been my friend since I came out here 25 years ago. And there are some new, smaller garden centers that I love. On the way in from Southampton, there are quite a few along the highway to stop and visit. Wherever you see one, it’s worth stopping because not everybody has the same stuff.
When you aren’t gardening and hosting your family, what are the events in the Hamptons that you never miss? I never miss Lally Weymouth’s party in Southampton; if you don’t go, you never get invited again—that’s the joke! But it’s a lovely party, and you get to see pretty much all the friends that you’ve made out here.
I’m in agreement with you; so much of being out here is about time at home.Your book Clean Slate is less of a cookbook and more of a guide to changing your life, in a way. It feels very unlike any other book that you’ve done... Except for my Living the Good Long Life.
It still feels different to me. It is different because it’s trying to teach that there’s never a bad time to revisit your diet, revisit how you live, how you treat yourself on a regular basis. And the food is really tasty and clean. It’s about rebooting and changing the way you eat—a more vegetable-based diet, without so much red meat and a lot less sugar.
But the recipes are very family-friendly, too. Are there a few that are your go-to dishes for your grandchildren? The kids love the brown rice cakes, and the grilled tofu is delicious—that’s a regular. I eat a lot of frittatas because I have my own delicious eggs. Any time I have people coming over for lunch or I have a photo shoot at my house, a big frittata goes in the oven with 36 eggs. I’m not big on farro, but a lot people love farro. We at Martha Stewart first published farro recipes, I think it was in 2002.
Way before the farro trend. Way before the kale trend. Way before. And smoothies. Juices are very important to my diet because that’s how I start the day. I grow spinach, mint, cucumbers, celery. That’s what I juice with.
Do you go to any of the local farmstands? I do. I go to the one on Sagg Main (Pike Farms, 82 Sagg Main St., Sagaponack), on the right-hand side past the Sag [Harbor Variety] store; that one is a regular. My other favorite is Round Swamp Farm (184 Three Mile Harbor Road, East Hampton; 97 School St., Bridgehampton, 324-4438).
So what’s next? You’re always on to the next thing. Any sneak peek for our readers? Yes, we have a new book, my 85th, called Martha Stewart’s Appetizers.
The focus of this is on the culinary delight, the tiny bite. Tell me about the hors d’oeuvres in here. When I have a dinner party, I don’t serve very many hors d’oeuvres because the dinner is usually quite hearty. But if there’s not going to be a big dinner, I serve many of these kinds of hors d’oeuvres—deviled eggs, cold soups in little cups, spicy shrimp, open-faced tarts. They’re not fussy; they’re not what you’d get at a beneft or in New York City, but they’re delicious.
Just in time for fall, hopefully? Yes, it comes out in September!
Martha Stewart’s Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d’Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails, by Martha Stewart ($28, September 2015). BookHampton, 41 Main St., 324-4939, East Hampton