Contest Gone Awry: Who Has the Best Hedgerow in the Hamptons?

Champion hedgerows
Champion hedgerows, Photo by Anna Strumillo

The Hamptons Hedgerow contest, launched last August 1 with great fanfare by the Scotswald Phipps Clothier company of Glasgow, Scotland, makers of fine cashmere clothing, has developed problems.

The contest was simple enough. Residents of the Hamptons were to groom their hedgerows to their very best between August 1 and October 1, during which time a team of horticultural judges would drive around the community and, from the streets, score them on the basis of thickness, design, opacity, color, clip and grandeur. Only hedgerows that bordered property would be considered. On November 1, the firm was to announce the winner of its first prize, a 2013 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster—a car that retails at $4.8 million, has an engine of 750 horsepower capable of bringing the car to 60 miles an hour in under 3 seconds, and owns the bragging rights as the most expensive car in the world.

It was a good promotion for the company, little known in America so far, but now there is trouble in announcing the winner.

The seven judges, separately and independently, rated every hedgerow in the Hamptons on a scale of 1 to 10, identifying them by their street numbers, found on signs next to the locked gates that allow entry to the property. The judges turned over the results of their voting to Scotswald Phipps, who delivered them by messenger to the Wall Street firm of Dow and Benning, which secretly tabulated the scoring.

Now it turns out that the winner of the first prize cannot be determined. People in the Hamptons who install hedgerows around their property are seekers of privacy. The addresses may be known, but tax records, available at the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office in Hauppauge, almost invariably attribute the owners of these properties as corporations, not only for privacy purposes but for tax purposes and also financial purposes. There is less of a chance of a lawsuit when a dummy corporation owns property than when an individual does.

One would think it would just be simple enough to announce the winning address and ask the owners to step forward to receive this exceptional prize, but the contract between Scotswald Phipps and Dow and Benning does not permit the Wall Street firm to reveal the winner to anyone, including Scotswald Phipps, until they can attach a name to the address selected.

Discussions have taken place between Dow and Benning and Scotswald Phipps, but have not been successful. A spokesman for Scotswald and Phipps told this newspaper that the only solution to this problem is for the owners of the properties that have been judged to all send their names and addresses to Scotswald, which will then turn them over as received to Dow and Benning until such time as the winning name and address is matched up with the selected winner. At that time, the winner will be announced and it will no longer be necessary for others to send out these letters.

“Hopeful homeowners cannot send this information directly to Dow and Benning,” this spokesperson said, “because the contract forbids them receiving any mail about the judging, except from us and then only to receive mail involving the contest.”

Residents of the Hamptons who think their hedgerows might be the winner of the first prize are urged to send their names and addresses to Scotswald Phipps Clothier, 7 Wandering Sheep’s Path Alongside the Boulder, Glasgow, Scotland, U.K., Postal Zone Q463. Letters should be sealed with Scotch tape for extra security.

As for the Lamborghini, which has been paid for, it currently sits inside a locked garage on the Scotswald Phipps property under 24-hour guard. It is unclear what will happen to it if no winner can be determined.

Lamborghini Veneno Roadster
The Lamborghini currently sits inside a locked garage on the Scotswald Phipps property under 24-hour guard.

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