Located in the heart of the North Fork’s wine region on Long Island’s East End, the Landcraft Gardens were established in 1992 by founders Dennis Schrader and Bill Smith when they purchased 17 acres of land surrounding an 1840’s-era farmhouse. Their initial goals were to create an exuberant garden of unusual or little-known plants, featuring them within a framework of innovative design while also providing an environment for trialing new and exotic plant material. They wanted it to be an American garden; to be a conglomeration of different styles and influences blending seamlessly to create a garden of unique interests. The garden would exemplify the synthesis of structure, color, distinctive plant material and composition.
Situated on a narrow spit of land, nestled between the Long Island Sound, Mattituck Creek and the Peconic Bay, the site itself provides an unusually long, moderate growing season – perfectly suited for the development of the Landcraft Gardens. Work on the gardens began immediately, with the first year being dedicated solely to land-clearing, soil remediation and the planting of cover crops.
The initial design consisted of many perennial and mixed borders accessed by numerous winding paths, and these borders are evaluated and reimagined on a yearly basis. Some of the borders and plantings blend gently into the surrounding meadows, providing a seamless transition into the natural landscape. Other planting beds are more traditional in their appearance, paying homage to classic perennial borders but often contain unconventional and rarely seen plants. There are a series of garden rooms hedged by hornbeam and boxwood that feature a variety of themed gardens. Expansive terraces surrounding the residence display hundreds of container plantings and are changed periodically throughout the seasons. The woodland shade garden – resplendent with early season ephemerals – also contains a diversity of shrubs, ferns and ground covers. Throughout the garden, low stone walls, benches and chairs provide opportunities to sit and experience the garden’s design and plant diversity. Surrounding the four acres of garden are almost 10 acres of natural but maintained meadows with mowed paths providing access to view native plants and abundant wildlife.
The Landcraft Gardens are a unique resource and living laboratory exhibiting extensive plant collections, celebrating the diversity of horticulture and design, and providing a place to explore human connection with the natural world.