The Garden Conservancy has been preserving gardens and educating and inspiring the public nationwide since 1989. Headquartered in Cold Spring New York, this homegrown organization’s premier event is Open Days, a collection of self-guided garden tours in private homes made open to the public from May to September on Long Island (tickets are $7). The first gardens were made public in 1995, inspired by England’s National Garden Scheme. The extraordinary home landscapes involved are scouted by Garden Conservancy’s network of volunteer regional representatives. Nearly 200 volunteers scour the country and to date close to 3,000 gardens have been included since Open Days’ seeds were first sown. Enjoy a preview of this year’s flora habitats on the following pages.
East Hampton Previti & Gumpel Garden
Open: June 21
This poolside garden oasis features a sun garden, two shaded gardens, pergolas, pool fountains, a fire pit and sculptures made from willow and grapevines that owner Marcia Previti calls “Strange Fruit.”
“The garden is a series of outdoor rooms which has developed organically over 25 years,” said Previti. “It is an ongoing effort. All the arbors and pergolas were built by my husband, Peter Gumpel. The brick patios were professionally installed as we added each room.” The effort is a true labor of love and the work shows. Amongst the hostas, grape-leaf hydrangea, junipers and cedar trees, the couple has crafted a glass sculpture playfully named “Poor Man’s Chihuly.” The potted annual scaeveola provide a continuous summer bloom and tropical hibiscus radiate color along with the Coreopsis Moonbeam, which have a long bloom period and don’t require deadheading. Previti expressed her passion for her garden and her experience with Open Days. “We wanted to share our garden with a wider audience than just our friends. We have really enjoyed being on the tours.”
East Hampton Abby Jane Brody Garden
Open: May 9
Abby Jane Brody’s woodland garden is a study in exploratory horticulture and thinking beyond the garden store offerings. In fact, New York gardening icon Marco Polo Stufano suggested it be preserved to educate people about using a wide variety of ornamental plants, rather than what’s commercially available. “I believe gardeners should be adventurous and open to experimenting with a wide variety of plants from around the world,” said Brody. “I particularly like to compare native plants with their Asian counterparts and have found the Asian ‘cousins’ are often hardier.”
Within her forested garden is Camellia japonica, which was collected by plant explorers from an expedition in Korea in the late 90s. There’s Japanese jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema sikokianum) and Flaming Silver (Pieris japonica) with brilliant orange-red new growth coloring that gives way to metallic grey that brightens dark corners. If you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the blooms on the Trout Lily (Erythronium Pagoda) before they disappear in late spring. “Visitors have come from Europe, New Zealand, California and the Pacific Northwest as well as the Tri-State area. Most are dedicated gardeners and I enjoy talking about the performance of the plants. It is always fun to get together with like-minded people to ‘talk shop.’”
image: karl gercens
Mattituck Landcraft Garden
Open: July 11
The home of Dennis Schrader and Bill Smith is a passion and profession all in one. The partners run a wholesale greenhouse business, Landcraft Environments Ltd., from a 17-acre farm that includes their renovated 1840 farmhouse and 2-plus acres of gardens. The lands are a showcase of unusual plants and local wildlife. A stroll around the tiki hut envelops guests with exotic ferns, orchids, begonias and other rare tropical plants. Walk over the Japanese bridge and spy goldfish, frogs and red eared slider turtles along with broadleaf cattails (Typha latifolia) and water lilies. “We enjoy Open Days and feel it is a way for people to learn about plants, gardening and design. We get to meet a lot of enthusiastic gardeners,” said Schrader. In addition to owning a greenhouse business, Schrader and Smith are both trained garden designers and Schrader is the author of two gardening books. Their garden is a reflection of their passion and expertise.
image: karl gercens