Conditions: A narrow waterfront lot dissected into front and rear by a substantial addition that was to triple the footprint of the original house, a desire for extensive outdoor entertaining spaces that allow enough varied sensory experiences that the owners and their guests “never have to leave the property if we don’t want to” and “low maintenance”, were the conditions for design when Jack deLashmet and Geoffrey Nimmer (we) began to consider the possibilities for this North Haven (Sag Harbor) property.
Elongating the inherent horizontality of the rear waterfront views and “taking visual ownership” of the estuary-like rhythms of the surrounding landscape, a series of finger-like “dunes” were created and planted with long swaths of monocultural- – largely native- – plantings, designed to keep the eye moving harmoniously with the natural flow of the native wetlands and bay beyond the property line, even during periods of peak seasonal color. Every stroke taken, each individual garden, down to individual flower, is subservient to the larger picture.
To further the impact of the newly –expansive, broadened rear water views one experiences after coming through the residence, the relatively shallow front was divided up into a series of distinct, smaller gardens. Fragrance, mystery and year-round interest, using mostly indigenous plantings are key to the success of the front gardens.
The urbane and sophisticated couple’s tastes run the gamut from low-key to exotic. Paying homage to the wife’s Indian roots, “the Garden of the 7 Chakras” (in a secluded section and part of the front gardens) was designed around a large mandala mosaic, to bloom in color sequence related to the colors of the Chakras. For instance, early Spring-orange Tulips are followed by yellow Forsythia, followed by green, blue, indigo, violet blooms. This most labor intensive garden on the property still requires relatively little maintenance.
The cutting garden features old-fashioned annuals and perennials. As with each of the individual gardens, it remains secondary to the overall connection to the larger landscape and setting.
The Pool Garden
The pool garden, like all of the garden spaces, is part and parcel to the overarching relationship to the water views. While open to the surrounding views, a sense of privacy is created by secondary shrubs such as Rosa rugosa, and taller grasses, such as Panicum virgatum. The low maintenance perennial planting scheme relies on under planting of off season bulbs, groundcovers and companion plantings to keep color and interest for 9 months of the year.