Guest Diary

Jill Krementz covers Guild Hall's "The Garden as Art"

Volunteers Sylvia Baruch, Lynn Birks, and Lorraine Papacosta checked in guests just outside Guild Hall. This is where we picked up our tour guide booklets and a map to each of the five featured private gardens. Your tour guide booklet then became your ticket of admission upon arrival at each site.

A volunteer, in garden talk, is the name of a plant that comes up where it wants and when it wants. The Guild Hall volunteers pictured here and those at each site on the tour were less headstrong and more amicable.
The Green Landscape
The Garden as Art
Saturday, August 23, 2014

This past Saturday Guild Hall held their annual benefit featuring five eco-friendly private gardens, three in East Hampton and two in North Haven.

In addition to the self-guided garden tours, donors were invited to a panel discussion on Saturday morning at 10 AM in the John Drew Theater.  Moderated by Edwina von Gal, experts discussed the basic components of chemical-free landscape care.  The event was followed by a benefactor luncheon honoring Ms. Von Gal hosted by Andy Sabin at his Buddhist retreat on 26 acres of exquisite preserved woodlands overlooking Accabonac Harbor.

I skipped the the panel discussion and luncheon preferring to begin my day at noon where I checked in with my fellow  garden hoppers — Michael LongacreDenise Martin,  and David Doty.

Four of the private gardens on display were owned by Stephanie Manes and David Salle, Judy and Ennius Bergsma, Bettina and Fred Stelle, and Susan Dusenberry.  A fifth garden on Lily Pond Lane was owned by a couple who wished to remain private but one of their horticultural wizards, Tony Piazza, was on hand to greet and enlighten the many delighted visitors.

My favorite summer read has been Chasing the Rose; An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside  by Andrea di Robilant (Alfred A. Knopf). Written by the author of the best-selling A Venetian Affair, this book is the charming  chronicle of his search for the identity of a mysterious old rose.

Andrea di Robilant’s tale takes us back to the time of Josephine Bonaparte, as well as into some of the most delightful rose gardens in Italy today, brought to colorful life on the page in the watercolors of artist Nina Fuga.

My pals with whom I went on the garden tour: David Doty, a Wainscott resident, Denise Martin, a recently retired editor for Fast Company (a financial magazine focused on the tech industry), and my Sagaponack neighbor, Michael Longacre, who knows more than anyone about gardening.
Judy Auchincloss and Justine Cushing. Rita and Peter Plush, Guild Hall volunteers and lovebirds for 57 years, were on hand to welcome us at the first garden we visited.

Listed only as Lily Pond Lane Historic Estate because the owner wanted to remain anonymous, the present-day garden was updated and simplified from its previous incarnation by Edwina von Gal.
Alejandro Saralegui, Director of The Madoo Conservancy.

As most garden people know, Madoo originated under the loving care of painter Bob Dash, who died last year. Alejandro has taken over the conservancy and it is now thriving with a twice-weekly summer day camp for young horticulturists ("Shine") as well as weekly meetings sponsored by the East Hampton Library where attendees discuss garden books.

The Sagaponack property abuts mine. "Madoo" is Old Scots for "my dove."

Above, right: Ale, pronounced "Ahlee," and Michael showing their stripes.

The garden is inspired by and emanates from its original architecture, a 1913 Cotswold Cottage.
This beautiful weeping Birch is in front of the house. Spider web, Bromeliad with ferns and spike moss.
Tony Piazza and Michael in the garden adjacent to the house. Mr. Piazza is on the design team with Edwina.
Beautiful pesticide-free Zapotec tomatoes.
A view of the house.

Another garden in the back is devoted mostly to wildflowers and perennials. The yellow columns are two active beehives. Each drawer — they are called "supers" holds 100 pounds of honey.

In the foreground you can see the modified meadow with Long Island native grasses and some non-native perennials for color. This is to keep the bees happy. There's even a bee bath to add to their comfort.
There are four supers. The Queen lives on the parlor floor laying eggs all day long.

There is a professional beekeeper who extracts the honey which is mostly given away by the homeowners as gifts to their friends.
A Wren house. The diameter of the opening determines the bird that will live in the house. For chicadees and titmouse you want an opening of one and one fourth inches. There are twelve birdhouses on the property including an Owl house in the great Sycamore.

Owls are good for rodent control and they are cavity nesters and are particularly fussy about facing the Southeast.
Look carefully and you can see at least five bees pollinating on this flower cluster.
Tony Piazza let us all smell a blossom he pinched off the very fragrant Acidanthera. This exotic fragrant flower grows from a bulb. Honestly, I've never smelled anything quite as heavenly.

Mr. Piazza presented the blossom to us (to Michael Longacre and me) but we thought better of being seen (or caught) walking off with a delicacy from the tour.

It was a special pleasure to walk around with Piazza, and those of you wanting a toxin-free landscape can go to his website:
The second house we visited, also in East Hampton, is owned by Stephanie Manes and the artist David Salle.

I'm guessing David Salle is a fan of artist George Rodrigue, who is famous for the blue dog painting features on David's mailbox. Rodrigue died in 2013 at the age of 69.
Whoever traveled from garden to garden on this bicycle was able to avoid any parking problems.

We saw this blue bike resting at the entrance of every garden tour we went on throughout the morning.
Our view as we approached the Manes-Salle garden — a woodland with a playhouse.
The playhouse.
The old swimming pool has been converted into a pond.
Adjacent to the main house is this beautiful swimming pool surrounded by outdoor living spaces and a dining area with fireplace.
Another view of the pond and Salle's studio beyond it.
Yellow roses on the pool's nearby wall.
Peeking through the window of the studio, which was not open to visitors. You can see an easel in the foreground. You can also see that Salle left the plywood walls intact. According to an interview, he had planned to paint them but by the time he got an estimate he changed his mind.

Joyce Menschel was peeking through the windows beside me. I often see her at the Metropolitan Museum where she is on the board and at "Encores" where she is a fellow Thursday night subscriber.
Garden #3 — owned by Judy and Ennius Bergsma, also in East Hampton.

Round House and its gardens were originally created by Jack Lenor Larsen and Jim Owen fifty years ago.
The current owners have dedicated themselves to the evolution of the 10-acre garden, maintaining a chemical-free, natural habitat for birds, butterflies, nonpoisonous snakes, turtles, fish and frogs.
Ennius Bergsma was standing beside his pool. He was the only owner I would get to meet on the Guild Hall tour. A very charming Dutchman, he and his wife have owned the property for 20 years.

"Jack Larson," said Mr. Bergsma, "was a spectacular stylist but he had no interest in engineering so when we took over the property we first had to fix everything, and then eliminate what didn't work like some of the waterfalls which were rotting everything around them."
Michael Longacre, Denise Martin, David Doty, and I were so fortunate to happen upon our genial Dutchman who told us about the history of the house and his various plantings.

Ennius Bergsma had a long and successful career as a partner at McKinsey & Company. His book, "Valuation," the leading text book on corporate finance, sold a million copies.
A view of the pool with ceramic wall.
A pond of lilies ...
Another view of the Lily pond.
Nick Maki, a self-described "garden lover," drove to Long Island from New Jersey for the event.

David Doty crossing over.
A bronze frog on one of the stones.
Real frog on lily pad.

There are lovely tableaus throughout the property, including these three bamboo structures tied with hemp.
Seating area.
Michael Longacre taking a rest on another seat, this one made of stone which he described as "a welcome prop after a lot of walking."

"I've been to all but one of Guild Hall's Garden as Art tours this century," remarked Michael, "and they've done a wonderful job creating interesting and beautiful sets of quite varied gardens. This year it was fascinating to see how different the concept of chemical free gardening can be and showed that taste, design, and attention are what makes a beautiful garden."
A lovely stone wall lined with ferns.
From a distance, this work looked like a mid-century Modernist masterpiece. ... but as one got closer it wasn't. The artist as it turned out was none other than Ennius Bergsma who built it out of some painted 6x6's.
I love the occasional touches of whimsey.
A firepit ... all the rage ...
... and a tasteful hose container.
Seed pods of a kind of Magnolia.
Araucaria araucana, commonly called the monkey puzzle tree. Columnar Maple (Acer Platanoides Columnare).

For a minute I felt like i was on the Appian Way.
Birdhouses were everywhere.
They don't seem all that comfy but certainly a pleasure to look at. A lovely gong near the house.
An urn with pretty hibiscus. More bamboo.
Molly Zweig from East Hampton with my longtime friend, Joanne Carelli, who produced Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate."
Ennius Bergsma with Joyce Menschel. One of the nice parts about the garden tour is that you keep seeing the same garden enthusiasts at each of the gardens. By the end of the day you feel like you are all old friends.
A majestic dawn redwood is the piéce de resistance. Mr. Bergsma told us this tree was assumed to be extinct but a botanist employed by Chiang Kai-shek found it in northern China. There are only 200 of these 70-year-old trees. This one came as a clipping.
A big thank you to our gracious host. I wish more of the owners had been on hand and I hope that in future years that they will be.

There were two more gardens in North Haven, one owned by Bettina and Fred Stelle, the other by Susan Dusenberry, but three gardens was enough for me in one day. My other suggestion to Guild Hall (besides having the owners present) would be that the gardens be open for two days ... on Saturday and Sunday. There were lots of people on canes and walkers so it's hard to imagine five garden tours in a single day was their cup of tea. I was worn out after three. My heart said yes but my knees (and brain) said "Enough!"

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.