Guild Hall’s Sublime Garden as Art

Priscilla Rattazzi and Chris Whittle
Priscilla Rattazzi and Chris Whittle

The Hamptons are known to have some of the most beautiful gardens in the country. Unfortunately for most of us, those gardens are gated off in private yards and we aren’t able to enjoy their beauty. That is, until the weekend of Guild Hall’s Annual Garden Tour, now in its sixth year. The tour takes place August 26 and 27.

The unique two-day event provides the opportunity to see the gorgeous gardens of East Hampton, along with a cocktail party on Friday evening at one of the gardens, a Saturday breakfast at Guild Hall and a talk by a celebrity garden designer. This year’s speaker is Jack deLashment, landscape designer and former garden editor of Hamptons Magazine. He will speak about his recent publication, Hamptons Gardens, a book that gives an insider’s insight to the array of philosophies and styles represented in the Hamptons, and features the work of designers Russell Page, Edwina von Gal, Oehme van Sweden and Miranda Brooks. There is also an optional luncheon after the talk, which requires a separately purchased ticket.

The tour will take place on Saturday, August 26 and is a do-it-yourself tour, where each individual is presented with a map and directions to the five gardens. Participants may choose which gardens to attend and the order in which they attend. The tour lasts until 5 p.m. on Saturday evening.

The gardens to be presented each year are selected by a garden committee of 10 people led by Nina Gillman. Each member has gardening expertise and knows the community well, and several have their own private gardens. In preparation, members recommend gardens they know of and some unofficial “peeking” is done by the committee. Then each garden is thoroughly reviewed before an invitation is offered to the owner to participate.

Although the event takes place in the Hamptons, its reach extends far beyond Long Island. “We have people coming from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The gardens of the Hamptons are some of the most glorious in the world. The climate allows for huge bountiful gardens, which are all private, opened up to the public for one time only,” says Ruth Applehof of Guild Hall.

Applehof coordinates the Garden Tour each year, and her favorite thing about the event is the committee. “They have a million great ideas and we’ll go out in the middle of winter in our boots in the snow to look at a garden. I learn a lot from them,” she says.

The event benefits Guild Hall, which is a nonprofit organization that includes a cultural center for the arts, museum, theater and education center. Guild Hall is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and all funding from the Garden Tour will support its programs.

As you all know, it is summer in the Hamptons, and there’s a benefit or fundraiser for every night of the week (sometimes several on one night!), but the Garden as Art Tour is truly a unique event. The opportunity and privilege of saeeing these beautiful private gardens will only come around once. “People who love gardens will travel the world for this quality, and they will tell you how fortunate we are to have these individuals open their gardens up to us,” Applehof adds.

For more information on the event visit or call 631-324-0806, ext. 22. Tickets are available in three price ranges, starting at $85 for members/$100 non-members.

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