As president of the Southampton Rose Society, Hal Goldberg is, not surprisingly, a big fan of the flower—and he believes people mistakenly think they’re much more complicated to grow than they really are.
“It’s a lot of flower for one little plant,” said the Southampton resident and landscape designer, who picked up the scent after his mother asked him to help her decide which roses to enter in the annual show, and went on to make the right selection.
“Winning at the rose show is very exciting,” said Mr. Goldberg, who was certified by the American Rose Society to judge for himself as a “consulting rosarian” just last month.
Very likely from these beginnings, the rosarian turned from a career as a photographers’ agent—“more or less helping them be creative”—to a creative career of this own, designing, restoring and renovating landscapes from Southampton to East Hampton and in New York City, Larchmont and Connecticut, after training at the school of the New York Botanic Gardens. This year, two of his local gardens were photographed for inclusion in major design magazines, and this weekend Mr. Goldberg will lead a “Garden Dialogue” at one of those in East Hampton for the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit that tries to help people understand the value of landscape design in much the same way they see the value of building design.
The East Hampton garden in question is described as “an expansive landscape that is a study in contrasts, where strict geometry interrupts sweeping views.”
“A wildflower meadow begins this tour, and the garden features beautiful old crabapple trees, manicured boxwood, woodland perennials and dramatic ornamental grasses,” according to the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website.
It was an East Hampton homeowner and member of the foundation’s board of directors, Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design, who’d admired Mr. Goldberg’s work for years and also knew the East Hampton design client, who suggested this garden for inclusion in one of the foundation’s tours.
Mr. Goldberg has done several gardens for interior designers and architects, which he especially enjoys because “they have an aesthetic that you can translate,” he said. Sometimes landscape design actually precedes the design of a house, but more often the house, and often an existing landscape architecture or “hardscape” of things like swimming pools, walkways and arbors, as well as existing trees and plantings, will greatly influence the subsequent design of the property.
A modern architectural style calls for a different type of landscape than a traditional one, which would tend to have more variety and color as opposed to more mass plantings and groupings. The interior—how the home is furnished and decorated—will also help Mr. Goldberg learn where his clients’ tastes lean. It will also reveal what they will see outside their windows at different times of the day: “If you’re having dinner, what’s the view going to be like?” for example.
A landscape designer’s projects can range from freshening up a property to reinventing one to starting from scratch—in Mr. Goldberg’s case, without a portfolio of projects to copy, since he doesn’t want all his designs to look the same.
“The big challenge for me is the concept, coming up with an idea,” he said, and he sometimes does his ruminating while riding the subway, “where you can just open your mind and relax.”
He said he considers a project a success “when it works with the house, and you drive up and see the house and the gardens as one.” And it can be especially gratifying when the finished product coincides with his own personality and aesthetic, so that he thinks, “Oh, I wish I had that—this is something I’d like to do for myself.”
He’s going to have an opportunity soon, having purchased a house in Southampton Village earlier this year. On a quarter of an acre, the cottage got a modern update by the architect Blaze Makoid, so the landscaping will definitely be modern in style, Mr. Goldberg said.
But beyond that, “I’m still thinking about what I want to do,” he said. “Instead of just running in and doing something, I’m going to take my time and work on the place.”
The Cultural Landscape “Garden Dialogue” tour will run from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday, September 21, and costs $45 to attend. Registration, which is limited, is at tclf.org.