AN ACRE OF PARADISE
TWO DEDICATED AMATEUR HORTICULTURISTS GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE THEIR DREAM GARDEN.
Two dedicated amateur horticulturalists get a second chance to make their dream garden.
Clelia and Tom Zacharias devoted 20 years to their first garden in Southampton, searching nurseries for plants and tending to them side by side. In 2013, facing an empty nest, they purchased a new home, doubling their acreage. In early spring of last year, they turned to Hal Goldberg, the late landscape designer and former Southampton Rose Society president, to make small changes.
“Instead, we were so motivated by his counsel that we ended up redoing everything!” Clelia says. “We bought huge urns for focal points and learned not to buy three plants of many varieties but hundreds of the same. Hal created a May garden, using 100 white digitalis. That is a statement.” Other touches include the seven-foot-tall pleached hornbeam trees that
punctuate the premises. A magical walkway of bluestone steps makes the fern-filled shade garden a lovely place to linger. Pared-down plant material, framed by evergreens, creates a serene setting.
“We’re old-fashioned,” Clelia says. “Hal pushed us out of our comfort zone, eliminating our English flower beds and creating a more formal, Italianate garden, defined by green spaces, boxwood, and powerful shapes. He installed a rose garden, teaching us what a rose can do. We did insist on keeping one bed, behind the pool, where we still potter around. He turned us loose there!”
Hal Goldberg passed away in May, but Tom, who is involved with the Checkerboard Film Foundation, the Parrish Art Museum, and the Southampton Association, is devoted to this project, spending hours at work on it. “It’s just beginning,” he says. “We have lots of time to devote. A garden has to be revisited every three years.”
Clelia’s first love is the flower bed. “At the end of a day of gardening,” she says, “we take a bottle of wine and two glasses and sit together on the little bench in the garden, surveying our ‘estate.’ Thank God we only have one acre! We love entertaining outside, hosting 60 for dinner around the pool. We had a July 4th lunch for 100 with pizza trucks. We use the whole garden. A hummingbird station, filled with nectar, sits outside our back door—i see it from three windows. The birds visit like angels. Our kids come from the city, bringing friends.” For the Zachariases, it seems, their redesigned garden is hardly an empty nest!
“IT’S JUST BEGINNING. WE HAVE LOTS OF TIME TO DEVOTE. A GARDEN HAS TO BE REVISITED EVERY THREE YEARS.” — tom zacharias
An inviting path leads to Clelia and Tom Zacharias’s shade garden, filled with Japanese painted ferns, hosta Elegans, and astilbe Bridal Veil. The Buddha head, representing harmony and enlightenment, contributes to the peaceful feeling.
left: The French-style parterre is outlined with boxwood, while each section contains a different variety of white rose. The towering Italianate urn in the center was discovered in Riverhead. below: Egyptian-style obelisks add vertical elements to the...
After working in the garden, Tom and Clelia Zacharias love to relax there in the afternoon, where purple buddleia and vitex provide splashes of color.