The Madoo Conservancy, located at 618 Sagg Main Street, Sagaponack, NY is an extraordinary garden that is a one- of- a kind place. It was "settled" in 1967, when the late artist, Robert Dash, purchased a cottage and a small plot of land there. As an artist, poet, and landscape designer that toggled freely between these pursuits, this site was his home and canvas for the next 40+ years until his death in 2013. He left behind an incredible collection of paintings, sketches, poems, and a horticulturally diverse and rich landscape that is all under the auspices of the Madoo Conservancy and it's executive director, Alejandro Saralegui.
The site is 2 acres, which is a generous size, but it feels huge. Part of the reason is the layering of space with vegetation, and the creation of garden 'rooms', but also unexpected moments and focal points. You kind of lose yourself in the site, which feels disorienting but in a way, cool too.
The garden is a cocktail of historic and geographic influences. This Japanese- inspired bridge, structure, and man-made frog pond are theatrical and whimsical.
Alejandro explained that Madoo recently completed a major renovation to his old studio, and it is now used to display his paintings, which are mainly of the surrounding landscape. The barn retains it's historic character, with old beams in tact.
Dash left quite a collection behind, and select works are currently for sale at Madoo.
One of Dash's most widely celebrated contributions to landscape design is his 'Gingko Grove', planted with a mix of fastigate Gingkos and boxwoods. A sculptural and somewhat surrealist landscape with an Alice- in Wonderland quality.
Looking up offers an even more dramatic view.
As we walked to what seems to be the deepest part of the garden (who actually knows where we were in relation to anything else there), we came to a room that was Italian-inspired, with an architectural Hornbeam archway framing a parterre of fruit trees.
What I love about the garden is how completely unrestrained, unrelenting, and daring it is.
This alle was all about the forced perspective, and the rill of water from one end of the room to the other.
The cottage visible at the end is absolutely adorable inside, and is available to be rented during the summer months. The garden is also available for outdoor events.
The views from Madoo of the surrounding farmland are still extraordinary in Sagaponack.
Thank god there is still some left.
Robert Dash in his studio in 2002. Photograph by Jonathan Becker