It’s Spring! Let’s Celebrate National Public Gardens Day This Friday May 8

Three of the East End’s most spectacular gardens will be free to the public with free tours. Visit each one!

Bridge Gardens in the sping • photo by Jeff Heatley

Bridge Gardens in the spring • photo by Jeff Heatley

It’s been a long and brutal winter on the East End and now that spring is finally here, it’s time to get back to the garden.

Friday, May 8 is National Public Gardens Day, a coast-to-coast recognition of public gardens around the country, and here on the South Fork we have a trio of reasons to celebrate — Peconic Land Trust’s Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, and East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve, all of which are public gardens offering free admission on May 8 in honor of National Public Gardens Day.

While all three are undeniably beautiful, each garden is quite different and entirely unique. The gardens at LongHouse Reserve are dominated by art, while the late Robert Dash took a more personal and intimate approach in designing his garden at the Madoo Conservancy, and at Bridge Gardens the focus is on promoting sustainable practices.

On National Public Gardens Day, visitors will not only be admitted to the three gardens free of charge, they will also have an opportunity to learn more about them from the experts on staff.

“We thought it would be nice to have one-hour guided tours at all three gardens throughout the day so people could get a more intimate knowledge of each place,” says Kathy Kennedy, outreach manager of Peconic Land Trust. “The guided walks will give people a chance to see what’s growing and what goes on in these gardens.”

The first tour on May 8 is at LongHouse Reserve at 10:30 a.m., the Madoo Conservancy tour runs from 1 to 2 p.m. and finally, the Bridge Gardens tour will be offered at 3 p.m.

“You can make a day of it, bring your friends and take a break for lunch,” she adds. “You can do one tour or stay all day and do all three if you want. It’s really up to you.”

The National Public Gardens Day celebration is just the first in a series of community events scheduled in coming months at Bridge Gardens. New this year are the community garden beds, 15 plots (5 x 12 feet each) of fertile Bridgehampton soil where subscriber families can get their hands dirty on a regular basis as they grow their own vegetables. Garden manager Rick Bogusch will, of course, be available to offer advice and guidance. Each plot is $100 for the season; all 15 have already been leased for the year.

But even if you don’t have your own garden plot, you can still stop by Bridge Gardens for lawn care and garden advice offered by Paul Wagner of Treewise Organics, workshops led by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County or the many music and art events happening now through the fall.

So now that the sun is out and the snow has finally melted, you really have no excuses to not be in the garden.

“The daffodils are glorious, the anemones are blooming and the hellebores in bloom,” says Kennedy. “By the weekend, everything will be popping. It’ll be beautiful.”

Reservations for the May 8, 2015 National Public Gardens Day tours at LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Road, East Hampton), Bridge Gardens (36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton), and the Madoo Conservancy (618 Sagg Main Street, Sagaponack) can be made by contacting the Peconic Land Trust at (631) 283-3195 or at [email protected].

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Annette Hinkle is a freelance writer based in East Hampton. Since 1996, she has written extensively about the East End’s cultural scene, history, food and the environment and has won numerous New York Press Association awards for her work. The mother of a 12-year-old daughter, Annette is married to an avid surfcaster — ensuring there is always a steady supply of striped bass on hand for dinner.