National Public Gardens Day Means Free Admission Friday

The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack Carissa Katz

Friday is National Public Gardens Day, and here on the South Fork, the LongHouse Reserve, the Madoo Conservancy, and Bridge Gardens will be open free of charge from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The goal for the day is to "raise awareness of public gardens and the important role they play in their communities and on a global scale," according to the American Public Gardens Association. Beyond the obvious pleasures of visiting these gardens, there are deeper benefits to spending time in such spaces, says the United States Forestry Service: "Researchers are demonstrating the positive effects of nature on blood pressure, cholesterol, outlook on life, and stress reduction," and studies also suggest that time in nature is "linked to longevity and decreased risk of mental illness."

So take an hour or two in a garden on Friday, and tell your boss it's for your health. 

Bridge Gardens, on five acres off Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton, was donated to the Peconic Land Trust in 2008 by Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens. There are perennial and annual plantings, an herb garden, and a variety of outdoor spaces to explore. 

The two-acre Madoo Conservancy on Sagg Main in Sagaponack was established by the late artist, writer, and gardener Robert Dash on the property surrounding his house and studio. Dash was interested in a range of garden styles, and established what the conservancy describes as "a green, organic encyclopedia of gardening . . . featuring Tudor, high Renaissance, early Greek, as well as Oriental garden influences." 

The largest of the three public gardens on the South Fork, the LongHouse Reserve occupies 16 acres off Hand's Creek Road in East Hampton and includes the house of its founder, the textile designer, author, and collector Jack Lenor Larsen, and an extensive collection of outdoor sculptures and installations. 

Sixty works by such notable artists as Dale Chihuly, Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, and Yoko Ono are interspersed this year with exhibitions of Orly Genger's monumental rope sculptures and Judith Shea's figurative works. The LongHouse grounds include an earthworks ampitheater, dune gardens, a lily pond, a reflecting pool, specimen conifers, a collection of bamboos and grasses, allees, and rose and laburnum walks. Visitors on Friday may be able to see the last of the reserve's daffodil blooms.

Separately, on Saturday LongHouse will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a free Family Day with activities, tours, performances, and presentations geared to younger visitors. 

Guided tours of the gardens, organized by the Peconic Land Trust, were already at capacity as of Tuesday, with a full wait list, but people are free to explore each garden at their own pace. 

For those who visit the gardens, on Friday night prix fixe dinners will be offered at the Maidstone in East Hampton, Almond in Bridgehampton, and the Plaza Cafe in Southampton. People should mention National Public Gardens Day when making reservations with the restaurants. 

Bridge Gardens in BridgehamptonDurell Godfrey
The LongHouse Reserve in East HamptonDurell Godfrey