Garden Tour & Dinner
July 14, 2007

Review by Lee & George Stefani

If there was an event that could be called first class, this was it.

Upon arriving in the morning to Dean and Jonathan’s home, the club was invited to the lush gardens designed and arranged by Dean. The gardens were so inviting and relaxing that the day could have been spent there, enjoying the yard and its plantings that flowed throughout the property.

This was followed by a sumptuous and beautifully arranged breakfast buffet prepared by Dean and Jonathan, and comparable to that of a 5 star hotel. A tour of Jonathan’s workshop in the converted garage was a lesson in old world quality furniture making, while a tour of their lovely home showed its transformation from a 1941 Cape Cod into a work of art. All too soon it was time to leave this lovely setting and drive over to Westbury Gardens for the next tour.

There we were greeted by our host for a guided tour of the West Pond, Box Wood Garden, and Rose Garden with its canopied walks shaded by old Locust timber. The history of the mansion and gardens was an interesting and colorful look back into the lifestyle of the Phipps family and into our Long Island history in general. After a brief lunch at the Café in the Woods we finished the mansion tour and posed for our traditional group photo.

From there we drove over to Hicks Nursery which also has a very long family history on Long Island and relationship with the Phipps family of Westbury Gardens. Behind the nursery, a charming English style cottage owned by Mr. Anthony Lepis, director of North Hills Garden Design, provided members with a shady refuge from the sun. Its lovely perennial gardens complete with fountains and soothing pond, were a treat to relax the senses.

From there we ventured out where some of our Jags had not gone before or not too often, onto the Cross Bronx Expressway. Traditionally, as always, the traffic was heavy. Larry’s yellow E-Type started to overheat and could be identified by its white plume of steam! Luckily, traffic kept moving, slow at first but then picked up as we approached the George Washington Bridge and his E-type cooled down. Somehow we managed to stay together as a group thanks to Dean and Jonathan being in the lead and making sure everyone caught up. As we entered NJ one of the members took an “alternate route” and another passed us by unknowingly! But we all arrived at our destination in Nutley, NJ.

Our hosts were eager to meet us and present their prized gardens. Dr. Hardie welcomed us with a brief history of Nutley NJ, which is known for its sandstone. Trinity Church near the Trade Center in NYC was built with Nutley sandstone. Dr. Graeme Hardie’s garden won the prestigious national golden trowel award as best professionally designed garden of 2005. We were all amazed at the splendor and peacefulness of the garden with its collection of colorful plants and the restrained use of flowers. After admiring and asking questions about his garden we walked across the street to Mr., Silas Mountsier III’s dream garden.

Silas’ garden was featured in Garden Design’s December 2003 issue. He made us all feel at home with his friendly candor and obvious enjoyment of showing us his gardens which covered an area of 2 acres and were scattered with nooks, sculpture and water features to delight the senses. Members enjoyed walking through the garden as Silas pointed out the many different plant species and how they worked together to create such beauty. I must say their gardens had such a positive relaxing energy.

Dr. Graeme Hardie was our chef and graced us with a meal complemented by an artistically arranged table in the garden. In his world travels Dr. Hardie brought back a library of flavorful recipes. The food was a delight to our palate as the gardens were to our eyes. We ended a perfect day with a perfect meal.

Once again we wish to thank Dean and Jonathan for organizing this wonderful event and also Kevin Sweeney of Jaguar Huntington for their support and the use and display of their new 2007 XJ-L.

© 2007 by JDCLI
All Rights Reserved