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INTERVIEW: Chip Rae On The Inaugural East Hampton Library’s Tom Twomey Series Garden Tour

Nicole Barylski

One of the featured gardens. (Photo: Durell Godfrey)

The fourth iteration of East Hampton Library's Tom Twomey Series will introduce a new topic that will be especially exciting for those fascinated with nature. On Saturday, July 7, the series will present Big Ideas for Small Gardens: Lecture and Garden Tour, an illustrated lecture by Charlotte M. Frieze, followed by a tour of some of East Hampton's little garden jewels.

We caught up with Library Board Member Chip Rae to learn more.

The Garden Tour will revolve around small gardens around town. How small are we talking?

CR: We're talking about what I would call "Village houses" - they're probably on 1/4 to 1/2 acre each. They have gardens tucked into their backyards or their side yards.

And why did you decide to focus on these smaller gems?

CR: Traditionally there's been three big garden tours out here: Guild Hall, ARF, and the Parrish Art Museum. They tend to be sprawling estates with very large properties. As people are focusing on moving into smaller houses in the Village of East Hampton and Village of Sag Harbor, the idea dawned on us that people are doing incredibly sophisticated little gardens, and wouldn't that be a different angle on it? What's interesting is that Guild Hall and ARF canceled their garden tours this year. So the only other garden tour that happened was the Parrish in June. So it's just a different take and these aren't things that require extensive landscaping. Some of them are professionally maintained but their gardens are attached to smaller houses. When people downsize, single people, they don't need acres and acres for gardens. They just want a little garden. That was sort of the thinking and we knew of Charlotte and her focus on this topic and she's an accomplished speaker so once we got the speaker we went looking for these gardens. Three are over by the train station and one is directly across the street from the Library. So it's easy for people to get to.

When dealing with smaller spaces, do you think it's more challenging to create a statement outdoor space?

CR: Yes. What you have to consider is that every inch counts. The Valarie Smith garden across from the Library, it's a very small piece of property but she has cleverly put in stonewalls, little formal gardens, and garden ornaments. When you walk through it, you say, "Wow! This is fantastic. This is all anyone needs." It's just a joy to see a space that's highly developed yet also extremely comfortable to be in.

How did you decide which gardens to include?

CR: Everyone on committee knew someone with a great small garden and we must have asked ten or 12 people and four said yes. We just relentlessly went around asking people. The folks that agreed to put their gardens on are all eager to do it and I think people like to showoff their gardens. If you work hard on a garden, there's nothing more rewarding than showing it to others and getting their comments.

The morning will begin with a lecture led by Charlotte M. Frieze. What will the discussion cover?

CR: She's going to talk about developing small gardens, how you can create these gardens that seem much bigger than they are - with walls, and ornaments, and garden antiques, and flowers, and trees, and beds - things you would think only fit in larger gardens. She's going to talk about how you actually can fit them into much smaller spaces and have it all work.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

CR: Enjoy the gardens!

The lecture at East Hampton Library will take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., while the self guided garden tours will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Admission to Tom Twomey Series programming are free, and unlike previous lectures, Big Ideas for Small Gardens will not be taped or live-streamed on Facebook.

East Hampton Library is located at 159 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, visit tomtwomeyseries.org.


Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski




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