Lynn Byrne

Lynn Byrne

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Behind the Privet: Hamptons’ Luxury Gardens

A garden gate at the Macklowe residence
A garden gate at the Macklowe residence.


The lavish lifestyle of a certain class of Hamptons’ residents has long been the stuff of legend. And its true; all very, very true.

Yet, as a general rule, it is nigh impossible to actually see these upper crust homes. As legend dictates, they really are hidden behind those storied, mile-high privet hedges.

Today, however, is your lucky day. Occasionally, to benefit a good cause, the Hamptons’ rich and famous throw open the gates and let just anyone willing to buy a ticket see how they truly live.

And it’s spectacular.

Last weekend, to benefit a beloved cultural institution in East Hampton, Guild Hall, a charitable garden tour was organized that showcased several utterly fabulous homes. Have a glimpse of what’s behind the privet.

First up on the tour is the residence of Barbara and Lloyd Macklowe. The house itself is a surprise. It is not the Hamptons shingle style that you might expect, but rather an oceanfront stucco house that has an English feel. Barbara Macklowe designed the surrounding gardens, giving them an English cottage look, to complement the architecture of the home.
The lovely front garden of the oceanside Macklowe residence
The lovely front garden of the oceanside Macklowe residence.

In the rear of the home is a beautiful pool with a southeast view of the ocean and a charming pergola eating spot.

The pool and surrounding areas in the rear of the Macklowe home
The pool and surrounding areas in the rear of the Macklowe home.


The residence of Alexandra Munroe (a curator at the Guggenheim) and Robert Rosenkranz would leave anyone but the most jaded utterly speechless. This home includes several styles of gardens, including a wild meadow, croquet green and a vast oceanfront vegetable garden that they have dubbed “The
Farm”.

The front property of the Munroe/Rosenkranz residence is dominated by an exuberant meadow
The front property of the Munroe/Rosenkranz residence is dominated by an exuberant meadow.
The ocean side of the property is populated by native plants such as beach plums, and a large cutting and vegetable
The ocean side of the property is populated by native plants such as beach plums, and a large cutting and vegetable garden.


The scene at the home of famous Hollywood star Dina Merrill feels right out of a movie. During the tour, Dina herself was poolside chatting with tourists as if they were old friends, while her staff served ice tea and cookies. Iconic photographer Slim Aarons would have felt right at home.

Dina’s house and gardens were designed to incorporate her favorite colors: pink, pale blue and white. A lovely path surrounded by native plants leads to a covered oceanfront vista where one could take in the seaside view or descend to the beach. The tunes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin croon in the background.

Dina Merrill’s oceanfront home could easily be the setting for a classic Hollywood film
Dina Merrill’s oceanfront home could easily be the setting for a classic Hollywood film.


A property does not have to be oceanfront to be glamorous. Interior designer Marshall Watson built a magnificent home on a bluff overlooking Gardiner’s Bay. It is hard to believe that the house is only several years old because it has a been-there-forever aura.

The gardens are found in the front of the Greek Revival style home, as the rear is dominated by a magnificent view.
The pool is situated directly in the front of the entrance to the house. A side garden includes a gentle fountain and a neoclassical gazebo.

A visitor is greeted by a grand entrance rife with classical references at the Watson home
A visitor is greeted by a grand entrance rife with classical references at the Watson home.

The rear of the home takes your breath away. Imagine dining with this backdrop—and those rockers are another place to drink in the wonderful view.

A breathtaking view of Gardiner’s Bay is a wonderful surprise behind the Watson residence
A breathtaking view of Gardiner’s Bay is a wonderful surprise behind the Watson residence.


So what do you think of your sneak peek behind the privet? Going out to pick up a lottery ticket?

All photographs by Lynn Byrne.