The Hamptons’ East End gardens are believed to be the most breathtaking around. Every year, people book tours to explore them- the gardens of South Fork have a dozen tours alone.
Most people think that the Hampton gardens are overly luxurious and that is what makes them so desired. In reality, they're a lot more focused on liveability and being able to sustain themselves. Experts say that in the past year, the most widely popular plants are deer resistant.
First vice president of the Southampton Garden Club, Lydia Wallis, is an expert at defending her plants against the deer. Although she had a fence to guard her property, she communicated that her garden had been devoured by the deer.
The top-selling plants this year have been perennials like Nepeta, Russian Sage, lavenders and ferns. It’s not surprise that these are known to be deer resistant. Bayberry Nursery and Arboretum in Amagansett also reported that angelonia, plectranthus, helichrysum, and snapdragons were popular “anti-deer” choices. The most reliable choices remain, however, geraniums and petunias- which come in absolutely every shade!
One wise gardener gives us advice on how to keep deer from ruining our gardens- from his own personal experience as co-founder of Marders in Bridgehampton. Charles Marder with his wife suggest these three steps to their clients (and us):
1. companion planting; 2. putting a browse fence around the plants; 3. figuring out garden gates and fences that feel like a garden, not an encampment.
Companion planting is the concept of planting “anti-deer” plants next to their more vulnerable counterparts, according to Marder. This makes the deer more prone to overlook their favorite plants, but not keeping them out of your beautiful garden. He also stresses the importance of planting these same deer resistant plants outside and around your browse fence. This way, the deer may have a look and see plants inside your garden, but those plants around the browse fence will keep them out. And although fences are vital to keeping deer out of a garden, Marder says that it’s important to choose a color that blends with your garden tone. Making it seem like less of a zoo and more like a blended garden.
Deer eat different plants during different seasons of the year. Mr. Marder warns us that knowing these different plants is key to keeping them out of your garden year round. Mostly, they eat grasses in summer because of a change in their metabolic system that is different each season. However, come autumn and they switch to broad-leafed evergreens as well as azaleas and all types of yew.
Marder said, “After Labor Day, the deer go back to their fall habits.” He also emphasises the importance of protecting the weaker deer-resistant plants during ever season. Fall is the season to study your garden and choose the plants for the following spring, according to Mr. Marder. This is a good time to decide whether you want a winter season garden.
Those of us getting our homes and plants geared up for fall 2016 should take advice from Ms. Wallis who says that the conventional red and orange colors of fall have become quite boring. Wallis says, “I like the pinks, people always associate fall with orange and yellow and golds. Dahlias are in bloom in the fall and they’re beautiful. They bloom in yellow, white, pink, and salmon. They’re a wonder.” However Wallis understands the commitment to classic fall pallets, suggesting black-eyes Susans as plants around the garden. She says that Southampton village is blooming with them around fall and they’re absolutely breathtaking.
Here are a few suggestions that Martin gives us for fall:
late blooming shrubs
lespedeza (white and hot pink are popular colors at The Bayberry shop)
crape myrtles (available in many gorgeous colors)
Like many other Hampton traditions, gardening has its’ classics as well. Among the most popular plants sold at The Bayberry are magnolias, flowering cherries and crape myrtles. Rhododendrons and azaleas are quite a hit in the spring, according to Ms. Martin, because that’s when they bloom.
However, Ms. Wallis admits that she has her own favorites. “You can’t beat hydrangeas in the Hamptons.” Mr. Marder also agreed with her on them. “The hydrangea is almost like the signature plant of the Hamptons. It’s really hard to go against that one.”
As winter approaches each year, Marder suggest planting colourful additions to his customers looking for winter-garden advice. He suggests using slow-growing conifers like the dwarf blue spruce and gold thread cypress. “The colder it gets, the bolder it gets.”
So whether you’re looking to make your garden one season friendly, or year-round, make it look like the Hampton gardens. You can’t go wrong!