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Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast – A North Fork Gardeners Diary

May 15th, 2010 by Marilyn Marks

Daffodils on the berm in early April at the Shorecrest

Early harbingers of spring, daffodils wave to passers by on route 48 in Southold

Part 1

The Passionate Gardener

This is going to be a section of my blog devoted primarily to gardening. I hope to add to it weekly during the season. There are lots of things I want this blog to be about but one aspect of life I am most interested in and passionate about , is the beauty and wonder of nature, and particularly the artistic pleasure of harnessing those wonders in creating a garden

I feel so fortunate to be living and working on the North Fork of Long Island. With its rich soil and (fairly) agreeable climate for plant health, it is a fine place to grow a garden and I count my lucky stars every day as I cross the road from my BnB to the beach, walk by the waters of the Long Island Sound and if I time it right enjoy a glorious sunset.

My last three houses were purchased  largely because of their location on a parcel of land with  potential  for a  garden. I have ‘built’ or ‘created’ gardens throughout my life wherever I have lived. As an art student living in a rented ground floor ‘flat’  in East London with only enough money to buy a dozen or so packets of ‘four o’clock’, marigold, lupine and nasturtium seeds to spread around a bare patch of earth in the forlorn looking back yard, a carpet of color was created that lasted from Spring until Frost.

Pansies and perennials in the Shorecrest secret garden

Instant gratification; pansies can be planted in April for early color in the flower border

When I first moved to New York I took a summer rental in the Catskills so that although I was living in a Manhattan apartment with no garden  I could spend my vacation days double digging flower beds and ambitiously planting climbing roses and every variety of annual I could find for an ‘instant gratification’ garden. The landlord was quite happy to have me do the work and beautify his cottage, but obviously thought I was quite mental!

I grew up in England and one of my earliest memories is the garden my uncle made when we moved from the city to the countryside when I was 5 years old. Our house was literally built on what a few months before had been a cow pasture. I ‘helped’ him lay out the flower beds and lawns, double dig the vegetable patch, and use a giant hand sieve to remove stones and pebbles from the less than perfectly loamy soil. I was fascinated when he turned an oil drum filled with cement and the handles and axle from an old baby carriage into a giant roller to flatten and grade the soil before planting grass seed for a lawn that could have served as a putting green it was so perfect.

Speicies tulips April 2010 in the meditation garden

Species tulips return every year

Every day I walked to school past the gardens of my neighbors, all apparently committed horticulturists and took a great interest in the health and progress of their dahlias, roses, chrysanthemums et al. In England almost everyone is a gardener; it seems to be in the blood, but it probably also has a lot to do with being blessed with an almost perfect climate for a wide variety of flowering plants. We never had to contend with the humid but overly warm nights that you find in New York (bliss for fungus diseases, awful for plants prone to downy mildew and black spot) or a sudden inexplicable hail storm on an otherwise perfect June day with hail stones sharp as knives and the size of quarters that can decapitate every bud on the roses and hydrangeas; or Lyme ticks lurking in the shrubbery! But the North Fork of Long Island and my spot in particular, surrounded as it is by the moderating waters of the Long Island Sound and the Ashamomaque inlet of Shelter Bay is much more temperate and better suited to growing things than almost any other area of New York State. This, and the remarkable richness of the soil is why there are so many wineries and farms here also.

Flame colored hybrid tulips compliment red maple leaves in the Shorecrest meditation garden

What follows is the story of my current garden at the Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast. It is a work in progress as all gardens are and in my next post I will explain how it came into being. Hopefully you will follow along with the trials and tribulations of combating voles, sudden late frosts and all the drama and pleasure that go along with the job of taking care of a garden.

Meanwhile I have included photographs here of the garden as it looked earlier in the season as it just awoke from its winter sleep, in March and April.

Until the next time…..

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