With its mature plantings and lush flower gardens, this estate on Great Plains Road blends in seamlessly with the other venerable grandes dames that beckon behind the signature hedgerows. So it’s hard to imagine that only a short time ago the three-acre property was a vacant, flat, barren lot with nary a tree or bush in sight.
As they say, location is everything, and the owner—a New York real estate executive—and his wife, thought the lot would be the ideal spot for their Southampton dream house. As the new millennium was dawning, they tapped the renowned Greenwich architectural firm Shope Reno Wharton to design the dignified shingle-and-stone house, which Joseph Kremer, the project’s interior designer, refers to as “sporty Victorian.”
When it came time to tackle the garden design, the couple knew just the right person to create a masterpiece out of this blank canvas. Enter Ed Hollander, a New York landscape designer who had created memorable gardens at the owner’s previous home in Quogue.
Hollander envisioned a “contextually harmonious landscape that blended elements of classic Southampton gardens with architectural elements that reflect the style of the house.”
Hence, true to the property’s environs, the impressive entry court has a formal geometry, accented with manicured lawns, pristinely clipped boxwood hedges, Japanese Zelkova and Balkan pines, and flower beds anchored by viburnum.
But since Hollander also felt it was important to create a space that reflected the family’s personality, his design really loosens up in the backyard where the couple relaxes poolside and entertains family and friends throughout the summer months.
Thanks to banks of windows and French doors that line the back of the house, the home’s common areas afford picture-perfect views of the backyard’s “garden rooms.” The living room opens to a semi-circular stone terrace, which is outfitted with com- fortable seating and dining arrangements. Four large white planters, imported from France, provide summer homes for splashy tropical hibiscus plants.
No room better integrates the indoor-outdoor feel than the screened semi-detached gazebo, which leads to the pool area and the sunken tennis court beyond it via a stepping stone-and-grass path. Flanking the path are curved flower beds, lushly planted with white-flowering PeeGee hydrangea trees, lilacs, phlox, Russian sage and other perennials.
A graceful white pergola, draped in cascading lavender wisteria, stands adjacent to the Arizona misty-rose sandstone poolside terrace on the west side of the property. Backing the pergola, a hornbeam hedge provides a gateway into the romantic and shady “White Garden.” The rectangular space has an almost secret, sacred feel and is resplendent with white salvia, yarrow, peonies, lilies, iris, hydrangea, and climbing roses.
Hollander says the all-white garden is the most intimate of his garden rooms and is at its most beautiful during an evening stroll when the flower’s white hues “pop” in the moonlight.
Although the garden’s impressionistic palate includes pinks, blues and purples, it is white—the owner’s favorite flower shade— that dominates the landscape.
Looking east from the pool, a sweeping blanket of emerald grass leads to the property’s borders, which is framed by butterfly bush, rose of Sharon, blue-and-white hydrangeas, and other privacy screens. An oval of white-flowering crabapple trees, under- planted with pink shrub roses and blue-flowering nepeta, completes the back of the property.
Architectural Digest featured the elegant house and gardens in its January issue. Now you have the chance to see the pages, in all their Technicolor glory, come to life.