After what seemed to be weeks of bleak, I struck out yesterday trusting the weather would break and I’d be able to get some pictures of what Martha Stewart’s Turkey Hill gardens had on display for this week in May. The house and gardens have new owners since Martha moved to new digs in Bedford, NY, but thankfully she left behind one of her gardeners of thirty years and, of course, all of her plantings of 40 years. I had the privilege of meeting with said gardener, Levy, who now splits his time between Connecticut and his native Brazil.
Levy met me holding a huge plant encyclopedia-type book breaking out of its binding, stuffed with clippings; pieces of paper; and plant tags. I decided to impress him by identifying the three flowers I recognized as I stepped into the main gardens. He seemed to not hear me… he was inspecting soil, dead-heading and such.
So how does one become a gardener to the doyenne of just about everything, including flowers? Levy grew up helping his dad on their family farm in Brazil and came to the US in 1969. A friend of his was working for a caterer who asked him to deliver food to an event hosted by Martha Stewart in NYC. Well, one thing led to another and Levy found himself employed by Martha to work around her Turkey Hill house fixing things. His fascination with the soil and planting led him to follow around the seven gardeners who were in her employ at the time. Soon he was one of the go-to guys who would set up for her TV shows and photo shoots for her magazine and many books featuring her grounds. Levy explained that the garden plots were always being transplanted and reworked depending on what the feature story was for that photography shoot.
Levy surveying the gardens
Everything was so water-soaked…and green
These spring flowers were so amazing they all seemed to be screaming for a close up
The sun was just starting to burn through and the lighting was amazing
…Making the colors intense
Have no idea what this is but can’t believe how ornate it is… right down to the two-tone leaves
Levy working on the trellised roses…when he saw me he confirmed that they would be out soon.
Even though the blossoms had started to die, this lilac hedge remains beautiful
I don’t think I’d ever seen pink poppies before… Levy was proud to announce that last year there had been only two and now they were back in force.
One of many varieties of clematis on the grounds. Martha mentions this vine in her book, Gardening: Month by Month (documenting the creation of the grounds and gardens at the Turkey Hill House) as one of the first things she planted to grow over her kitchen pergola
The moss-covered garden shed…the foil for many a magazine spread on gardening and part of the “set” for many of Martha’s TV segments
The chicken coop that once housed 300 chickens from all over the world. Levy told me there were chickens from Poland and Japan and some of them cost $2500. He also showed me inside what he referred to as Le Palais du Poulet…complete with postbox-like egg-laying compartments; and time-out rooms for bigger chickens who picked on their midget-variety roommates
Side door… loved the little ramp
Ingenious substitute for common green tomato stakes… tree branches.
Everywhere I looked there were buds ready to burst
Fortunately, I was asked back by now-owner and faithful steward to uphold and improve on what Martha Stewart started, Casey Berg
…I’ll be there next week to view the garden’s progress as things really heat up with the approach of summer