Fred and Robin Seegal


The heat of summer is softened by the calm, cool soft sway of the grasses in the Seegal garden in Wainscott. Typical of landscape architects Oehme and van Sweden, the garden is uncomplicated, a serene contrast of textures that rustles in the breeze and accents the crash of the waves just over the dune.

At the entrance to the house, the surrounding beds are more complex, with blossoms beginning early in the spring. Sedums and blue fescues flank the bluestone as you approach the door; a fragrant bank of sarcoccoa greets you there and begins a long succession of waves of color that go through Hellebores to peonies, geraniums, Achemillas, iris, astilbes, Nepeta. Each bank in this limited palette has its moment in the sun, accompanied by a summer of pink roses. Blue hydrangeas that match the summer sky are joined in the final wash of color by a wonderful Rose of Sharon hedge.

A path leads you off to the right, where the glimpse of large grass beds pulls you out into the open. En route, a stone chimney seems to tumble down through the patio and into the grass. The bluestone pattern is broken as it cascades off of the patio and onto the lawn. The wind in the grass echoes the surf. The breeze combines with the various green tones in the blades of grass to create a very relaxing garden. Even the edge of the garden bed is in the form of a wave.

A wooden walkway leads up and over the dune. The two large grass beds that embrace the house frame the dune the way the distant view is framed at Versailles, no focal point just dune grass that fades toward you into a lawn of various fescues and clover, giving it a natural look. The dune grass itself is punctuated by a few dwarfed pines. There is far less color here than in the front less distraction and excitement than in most gardens quite frankly, but all that would keep the eye from the large old beach plum, a natural sculpture whose tips continue the line of the dune as it rises from the beach.

On the eastern boundary, the grasses emerge and flow forward from the hedge. Torulosa Junipers are like exclamation points that help to stop the eye from moving through the old privet and into the neighbor’s drive. White Kalimeris is mixed into these grass beds, a soft summery white perennial that is bully enough to duke it out with the grasses. Weeds don’t stand a chance in this dense planting.

Buddleias, asters, Thalictrums, Filipendulas and Symphytum create a tall backdrop toward the northeast of the pool, where they rise up behind a bank of oat grass. These tough perennials are thriving in the heavy soil, adding late summer color to this corner that is screened on the north by a continuation of the Rose of Sharon hedge.

This garden is calming and harmonious, it embraces the house. In full leaf it must resemble a nest that one returns to after the brilliance of the beach and sky to the south. A comfortable, serene spot to land after having been out in the hectic heat of the world at large.