Tour an Ever-Evolving Estate on Georgica Pond
This 10-year project in the Hamptons is really the love story of a creative landscape company and a passionate client.
When a client comes to a design firm, there’s no telling the journey that lies ahead. It could be a six-month project, a two-year transformation, or turn into a relationship that will evolve and grow for a decade. That’s exactly what happened when a Hamptons homeowner passionate about his estate’s landscape discovered Roxine Brown of Harmonia Inc.
Unfolding like a novel, their collaboration over the next 10 years created this artful sanctuary. A decade of delight for both parties, the homeowner beams, “Working with Roxine and her team is effortless.”
Chapter 1: The Meeting and New Beginnings
On a sunny Memorial Day Weekend, a call was received from a potential new client. He had been to a party at a home set on Mecox Bay of his longtime friend and had seen a five-year project Harmonia Inc just completed. Roxine Brown, the Bridgehampton-based landscape design firm’s founder and Creative Director, set a time to meet with him and their 10-year story began.
After walking the property with the homeowner and discussing his aspirations, they decided that the first phase was to create an enchanting entrance for him to enjoy upon his arrival home. The perspective of how he feels when he enters his property was and has remained one of the most important goals to achieve.
A romantic entry came to life after installing three large islands of mature Crape Myrtle Trees underplanted with colorful, all-summer blooming lace cap hydrangeas and flowering ground cover. A stone path leads the way through the towering trees to the arched front door covered in red roses.
The property is set on a stunning stretch of Georgica Pond. So, next, it was time to enhance that view by framing it with a pond garden that would take on many transitions of flowers throughout the summer season. It ends in August with a burst of native Moscheutos, commonly known as Hardy Hibiscus. Over the past 10 years, the Hibiscus have flourished and are a grand finale to the family’s summer season, each year staging the scene for an end-of-season summer party.
“Roxine and her team have an eye for a more natural and casual design, with beautiful drifts and layers of plants and color that maintain their beauty and composure over the spring, summer, and fall as the plants bloom and retreat.” She also has an eye for structural elements, which brings us to Chapter 2.
Chapter 2: The Wall
As the estate’s gate opens, you are treated with a winding brick driveway lined with tall Crab Apple trees. It’s like being transported back to another century. Roxine and the homeowner’s next preference was to address the separation between this space and the pool area, which was divided by a failing Osmanthus hedge. After much conversation, the pair landed on the idea to construct a brick wall that would harmonize with the authenticity and old-world charm of the driveway entrance.
But, how to find bricks that were stable while at the same time looked weathered and worn? Harmonia contracted a company to produce handmade bricks with custom design inserts and finished with a custom bell cap. The bricks, of course, took several months and lots of nail biting and frustration. Finally, they arrived and Harmonia installed a 6’ wall that took on the same meandering shape as the driveway.
The wall would also serve as the backdrop for the pool garden, which they lined with dogwoods and filled with tumbled stone pathways. The garden is planted with flowering perennials and has step-able ground cover. All of these features support the love this client has for spending his relaxation time walking through his gardens and enjoying them.
“It’s amazing how different and perfect each side of the wall is—one side is handsome, understated, and stately, the other side is full of color, whimsy, and playfulness,” says the homeowner.
Chapter 3: The House Next Door
Time passed and a parcel next door became available. With the homeowner’s desire to expand his footprint and develop features not available to him currently, he purchased it. A guesthouse, tennis court, and, of course, more beautiful gardens and creative evergreen screening ensued.
This natural canvas also became an ideal place to add garden art with a magnificent 23’ tall sculpture called 97.5 ̊ Arc x 9 commissioned from artist Bernar Venet. It sits between mature Katsura and a grove of Tupelo trees. Large but without obstructing any water views, this perfect piece can be seen from all angles of his newly expanded property. The homeowner muses, “We spend most of our time living on the original lot, so we are more immersed in the gardens and want to feel surrounded by them. The lot next door is largely seen from afar. It needs bigger objects, like the sculpture, conservatory, trees, and stonewall, and fewer flowers.”
Of course, with a new lot came new challenges. Moving an enormous zelkova tree, which the homeowner couldn’t bring himself to cut down, was one of them. It required a 150-ton crane and a lift that “was a harrowing and unforgettable show.” Since construction was involved, they also needed to carefully follow village and DEC requirements for a waterfront property. Native vegetation was mandatory within areas. Inspections would take place, and all needed to meet code requirements. Negotiations with village officials required Harmonia’s involvement to meet the desires of the client and satisfy the town—a delicate balance to strike.
Achieving this, the result is adored by the client. “I love to sit under the old grove of Tupelo trees by the Georgica Pond and feel the coolness of the shade and the beauty of the pond. It’s a very different experience than being surrounded by flowers, but every bit as joyful and unexpected.”
Chapter 4: Forever Evolving
Landscape changes and renovations are never over if you’re a landscape lover. Just like a house, there is always something to fix, install new, or improve upon for fresh beauty and functionality.
Here on Georgica Pond, the homeowner reflects, “I’ve done a lot. And feel I’m getting close to being finished, but I have at least two projects I would like to complete before I view the landscape as finished.” As well as rethinking some areas that are ready for a new look, there’s also the desire to use trees, sculptures, benches, or low walls to create further division. So, it seems this deep-rooted collaboration with Harmonia will continue to blossom.
“I enjoy spending time with Roxine and her team thinking about the landscape. Roxine is casual, friendly, and thoughtful. It never feels like she is selling me anything. She would never suggest something that she didn’t truly believe in.”
Harmonia has an ongoing relationship with most of its clients. The firm designs, creates, installs, maintains, and manages grounds to perfection. Not unlike this one, many of their projects extend over multiple years and love for their work goes into each step.