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Spring has sprung and the gardens are in bloom on Long Island’s North Fork

April 15th, 2010 by Marilyn Marks

Some of my Southold Neighbors enjoying the April Sunshine

I was in Manhattan last week on Central Park South the day that the temperature reached ninety degrees. I love this time of year in New York City. The leaves were already bursting into pale green on the trees, almost two weeks earlier than here on the North Fork where the temperature never rose above 75 F that day. The water that surrounds our area moderates the temperature all year round, giving us milder temperatures in the winter and always providing a welcome cooling effect in the dog days of summer.

The salt air really suits certain plants, like hydrangeas which can be spectacular later in the year. My garden has giant ancient specimens lining the walk leading up to the front door that were planted in the 1920’s. The daffodils on the berm in front of my house are putting on quite a show right now and I am looking forward to the sequential plantings of flowering perennials that will follow right through the fall.

Hydrangeas from the Shorecrest garden later in the year

I’m a bit of a Jackson Pollock gardener when it comes to design and layout. This is largely due to time constraints (running a BnB is a busy life) and the large amount of space I needed to fill quickly ( the front border that flanks route 48 is 20 feet wide and almost 200 feet long) when I  decided to turn the wild jungle that was here in 2005 into the kind of tapestry of floral textures and colors that I have today. Of course, I’m never done and my next big project is the dividing hedge I want to grow between the East Lawn and the roadside border, to give both  privacy to the side of the house and create another ‘garden room’. I’m also thinking of turning the vacant plot next to me into a meadow of wild flowers and grasses. Stay tuned to my blog for pictures and progress reports!

Garden Conservancy Open Days program

Each month brings it’s own special glory in the garden and a great treat for me is to visit private local gardens that open to the public once a year as part of the Garden Conservancy Open Days program. Apart from the visual treat I learn a lot from these visits and often get some great ideas on plant combinations and what will and will not grow well here.

On May 1st there are several gardens open in Suffolk County ‘s Hamptons on the South Fork. Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast is delighted to offer special rates to guests who would like to visit these gardens and also spend some time on the North Fork enjoying our spectacular countryside, beaches, wineries and farms. We are just a ferry ride from the South Fork so please call Shorecrest  (631 765 1570) or visit our web site for more information on our ‘Garden Conservancy’ package which includes a private guided tour of our own acre garden.

Below is a list of the open gardens in May in Suffolk’s  East end. For directions and information on tickets please visit the Garden Conservancy web site. We’ll be posting more on gardening and gardens on the North Fork and the June Schedule for Open Days soon.

Open Gardens on the East End of Suffolk county New York On May 1st 2010

Abby Jane Brody

44 Glade Road
East Hampton, New York

This is primarily a woodland garden in which the native oaks are the upper story. It is a plant collector’s garden with a special emphasis on rare or unusual flowering trees and shrubs as well as herbaceous plants. The half-acre site has something in flower, often fragrant, almost every day of the year. In early May, the last of the camellias and hellebores may be in bloom, as well as daphne, epimediums, and hundreds of other woodland plants.

Margaret Kerr

1006 Springs Fireplace Road
East Hampton, New York

The garden, designed by Kerr, surrounds the house and studios on two acres that extend down to the wetlands of Accabonack Harbor. Kerr’s brick rug sculptures, inspired by tribal Middle Eastern carpets, are placed throughout the garden. One, a brick prayer rug, lies in a contemplative glade below her studio. Kerr collects plants grown in the Middle Ages in a courtyard around a fountain and lily pool highlighted with espaliered pear trees. In the spring, drifts of thousands of daffodils bloom in the fields around the house and are left unmown until late fall. Native grasses and wildflowers make islands of meadow during the summer.

Biercuk/Luckey Garden

18 Sayres Path
Wainscott, New York

This four-season woodland garden under a high oak canopy shelters a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, kalmia, pieris, understory trees, perennials, bulbs, and tropicals in season. A mostly sunny, rear corner contains a pool designed as a pond with a waterfall and is surrounded with plantings which peak mid-July through October. Winding paths and stone walls enhance a sense of depth and elevation change on a mostly flat acre. There is something in bloom every season.

The Garden of Dianne B

86 Davids Lane
East Hampton, New York

Idyllically located between the East Hampton Nature Trail lovingly known as the ‘Duck Pond’ and an impressive apple orchard, this evolving new garden exists on a charmed acre. A grand magnolia and other splendid old trees provide the anchor, as well as hiding places for Dianne’s trove of odd woodland plants—especially her beloved jack-in-the-pulpits. This is a garden where layers of variegated plants, big circular leaves, unexpected sculptures, twisted trees, and weepers of all kinds provide much more drama than what is in bloom. Fritillaria are her specialty among thousands of spring bulbs and extraordinary tree peonies. It sets the stage for her garden website, her Hamptons Cottages and Gardens column, and embodies all the principles from her book, DIRT.

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