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Unlike a lot of New Yorkers, I rarely visit the Hamptons during the summer months, so when I do I savor every minute. Such was the case, a few days ago, when my husband, Anil, and I drove out for a long weekend to attend a wedding.
We spent our free hours driving along the lanes of Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and East Hampton and taking in views of the charming houses and beautiful gardens the area is known for. One of my favorite stops during this particular journey was The Hedges Inn, a gracious old hotel in East Hampton, where the groom’s dinner was held. Cocktails were served on the back porch, which overlooks the hotel’s flower and herb gardens. The perky pink cosmos in the herb garden caught my eye, but when I walked over to take a closer look, I noticed the compact garden was brimming with many of the same herbs I grow in containers on my terrace, including basil, thyme, parsley and chives.
Some of the other herbs in this garden have inspired me to expand my own little collection of potted plants, not just for the benefits they bring to my own cooking (you can’t get fresher or more locally grown herbs than those you cultivate in your own back yard), but for their lovely textures and colors, which can camouflage the brick walls of my terrace. The snappy-looking flowers made me want to brighten the terrace even more with some vibrant shots of color. These gardens included not just the cosmos, but some sunny calendula, which I’ve been wanting to introduce to my container collection already, as well as some pretty delphinium, sumptuous dahlias, and I believe some kind of hibiscus flowers, which were languidly wrapping themselves around a tuteur in the center of one of the gardens.
I’ll ask my friend Peter Walsh, the editor of Gardening & Outdoor Living magazine, to confirm the identity of this flower when he comes to visit me next week. I’m also hoping he’ll offer me a little advice on how I might spruce up the terrace or where I might find a trolley or baker’s rack to corral my potted plants and lift them up off the concrete terrace floor. I discovered a wonderful small industrial trolley at Ruby Beets, an amazingly inspired home and garden shop in Sag Harbor and another favorite stop during our visit (I’ll write more about the shop and one of it’s owners in a later post). This particular trolley was beyond my budget, but a few more herbs aren’t. So, I’ll be heading to the farmer’s market this coming weekend to round up two or three more plants to add to my humble collection. In the meantime, I’m going to trim a few leaves from my mint plant and make up a pitcher of iced mint tea right now. It’ll be just the thing to take the edge off this hot New York summer day.