The Sunday porch: The Appletrees

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The Appletrees,” Henry Eugene and Eva Johnston Coe house, Southampton (on Long Island), New York, 1914, by Frances Benjamin Johnston,* via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The porch of this 19th century “cottage” is actually an arbor — covered, I believe, in grape vines.  The flower-filled boxwood parterre immediately surrounding the house ends rather abruptly in country fields and woods.

I haven’t been able to discover much about the property and its owners:  Mrs. Coe co-authored a book on American embroidery samplers, and Mr. Coe was evidently considered an arbiter of social acceptance for the wealthy Southampton of his time. He signified who was in and who was out by issuing (or not) invitations to his annual dinner at The Appletrees (or The Apple Trees).

I could not find out whether the house still exists.

This hand-colored glass lantern slide was used by Johnston in her  garden and historic house lectures.


*Photographed when Frances Benjamin Johnston and Mattie Edwards Hewitt worked together.

ADDENDUM, October 2018: A kind reader who lives in Southampton just wrote to me and confirmed that the Coe house no longer exists.

“The last time I was on the property was in the 1960’s. It was a beautiful house and had wonderful out buildings, one of which was a large 2 story barn which was located near the property line that abutted the Catholic Church to the south. The horses were stabled below and the men were housed above.”

Vintage landscape: Grey Gardens

Billboard near the High Line, NYC/enclos*ure While walking along the High Line in New York City last month, I spotted this billboard for a storage company.   It made me remember these Library of Congress hand-colored lantern slides by Frances Benjamin Johnston and Mattie Edwards Hewitt.

View of the walled garden from upstairs in the house. All photos via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
View from an upstairs window of the house.   All photos via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This was Grey Gardens in 1914 — long before it was made famous by the 1975 documentary.

The walled garden section of the four-acre estate in East Hampton, N.Y., was designed by Anna Gilman Hill and landscape architect Ruth Bramley Dean.

Anna and her husband, Robert Carmer Hill, had purchased the property in 1913.  They sold it to Phelan and Edith Bouvier Beale (whose daughter was Little Edie) in 1927.

The northeast gate to the walled garden.
The northeast gate to the walled garden.

Hill imported the concrete walls from Spain.  She took the name for the house and garden from its environment.

It was truly a gray [sic] garden. The soft gray of the dunes, cement walls and sea mists gave us our color scheme as well as our name… nepeta, stachys, and pinks… clipped bunches of santolina, lavender and rosemary made gray mounds here and there. Only flowers in pale colors were allowed inside the walls, yet the effect was far from insipid….I close my eyes and sense again the scent of those wild roses, the caress of the hot sun on our backs as we sauntered to and fro from our bath and lazy mornings on the beach.

—Anna Gilman Hill, from Forty Years of Gardening

Beyond the property is the Atlantic Ocean.  The walled garden was 70′ x 40′.

A plan of the garden, artist unknown.
A plan of the garden, artist unknown.

The estate (now two acres) has been owned by Ben Bradlee (formerly editor-in-chief of The Washington Post) and Sally Quinn since 1979.  They have restored both the house and garden.

Now the land between the walled garden and the ocean is filled with newer houses and gardens, and there is a very tall hedge just behind the far wall and the pergola.

The northeast gate.
The northeast gate.
The original photograph before hand coloring.
The original photograph before hand coloring.
The bench inside the northeast gate.
The bench inside the northeast gate.
Looking west to pergola.
Looking west to pergola.
Birdbath on west wall.
Birdbath on west wall.
Pergola and tool house gate.
Pergola and tool house gate.
East gate to the tool house.
East gate to the tool house.
The garden tool house.
The garden tool house.
Sunroom in the house overlooking the walled garden.
Sunroom in the house overlooking the walled garden.

The open doorway in the photo above lined up with the pergola.  It seems that, at the time of this photo, there was an opening in the garden wall between the house and pergola.  But I can’t tell if the opening was there before or after the time of the other photographs.

Birdbath.
Birdbath.
Dovecote.
Dovecote.

Vintage landscape: the iris garden

A little Sunday morning prettiness.

Japanese iris garden in East Hampton, NY/Library of Congress

The Japanese iris garden at “Grey-Croft” in East Hampton, NY, in 1913, on hand-colored glass lantern slides.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

The images are part of the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

They were taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston and Mattie Edwards Hewitt, when the two photographers worked together. The slides were used by Johnston as part of her garden and historic house lecture series.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

The garden — owned at the time of these pictures by Stephen and Emma Cummins — is now part of the Nature Trail and Bird Sanctuary, according to the Library of Congress online catalogue.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

Having [divided, planted, fed, and weeded your irises] more or less faithfully, you will be rewarded by spectacular blooms in May. The iris is one of those plants that may as well be spectacularly well grown as not. Properly done — and it is at least as easy as growing tomatoes or corn or roses or things of that sort — the bloom will be so thick you cannot believe it at all, and the colors will be so sparkling and fresh you will jump (as it were) up and down.

They will be, as a rule, in total perfection by May 22, or whenever the year’s major hail and thunderstorm is scheduled.

— Henry Mitchell, from The Essential Earthman