Madoo Celebrates 50 Years

Celebrated internationally for its bold planting style, horticultural diversity, and brightly colored landscaping
Alejandro Saralegui, Madoo’s director, presided over last year’s Much Ado event. Durell Godfrey

The painter Robert Dash, who died in 2013, left a legacy much larger than his brushstrokes. The Star’s longtime garden critic, whose columns were renowned for their painterly approach to the color and placement of plants, Mr. Dash lives on not only in his art and written works but in Madoo, his own much-loved garden, now a conservancy open to the public. The Madoo Conservancy has become celebrated internationally for its bold planting style, horticultural diversity, and brightly colored landscaping.

Much Ado About Madoo, the conservancy’s annual benefit, this year celebrating the  50th anniversary of its founding, will take place tomorrow and Saturday, with cocktails in the garden from 6:30 to 8:30 tomorrow evening. For a $200 donation ($150 for members), guests will get a preview of Saturday’s garden market (see adjacent story), as well as the conservancy’s inaugural art exhibit, “Robert Dash: Sagaponack Landscapes,” in the summer studio gallery, built in 1740 and newly restored. There will be a live auction, led as usual by Jamie Niven.

When the artist founded Madoo in 1967, the property was mostly farmland, with a few historically significant structures, which he saved and maintained. “Before the mansions and estates, simple country homes belonging to generations of farmers and fishermen evolved and expanded as necessary,” Alejandro Saralegui, Madoo’s director, said in a release. “Later, artists and writers like Robert Dash, who sought to create within this idyllic and unspoiled landscape, renovated without pretension barns and outbuildings in which to live and work.”

Saturday’s market, which will cost $20 but is free for members, will feature over 25 dealers in items of interest to gardeners, horticulturalists, and others, including rare plants, garden antiques, flower-scented fragrances and more. At 9:30 a.m., as part of “A Talk in the Studio,” Betsy Pinover Schiff, a noted garden photographer, and Barbara McLaughlin, president of the Fund for Park Avenue, will speak. A book signing and breakfast reception will follow. The fee for this event is $100 and $75 for members. Advance purchase for all of the programs is recommended.

Children, too, will get to enjoy the space on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m., during “Once Upon a Time at Madoo.” Activities will include potting plants, floral face-painting, and “do-it-yourself Bob Dash prints.” Admission is $25. 

The art exhibition in the old studio, which was part of the conservancy’s recent $1.1 million historic restoration, will remain open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and also by appointment through July 22.