This Tour Is Wild For Roses


From the very start, the Guest family’s garden, “Folly Fields,” was all about roses—the voluptuous, pink Pierre de Ronsard variety climbing up and arching around the front porch, to be specific.

“Every time I see this, it just takes my breath away,” Southampton Rose Society President Hal Goldberg said last week outside the home. “I’ve been here many, many, many, many times. There’s nothing so unusual about putting roses around your entrance, but the scale of that …”

He trailed off, gesturing toward the abundant blooms while shaking his head with a smile. “It does, it just takes your breath away,” he said. “This is about as classic as you can get.”

Behind a split-rail fence covered in the grandiflora climber Aloha sits an edged, formal garden with four parterres organized by color and interspersed with boxwood, arches and a small pergola, which rose enthusiasts will see during the society’s garden tour on Saturday, June 29, alongside three other private and two public gardens in the village, including the garden of Anthony Roncalli and Eric von Kuersteiner.

“Here, you think this is a beautiful Southampton garden, you can’t imagine it being done better than this,” Mr. Goldberg said of Folly Fields. “That’s why I’m so excited about Eric and Tony’s garden because it’s so different than this. People are gonna be surprised.”

That’s because the roses inside the Roncalli and von Kuersteiner garden are just a fraction of the plant material selected by landscape designer Ryan Bell, who also lives on the property.

“I hope people aren’t disappointed with the number of roses in the garden,” Mr. Bell remarked to Mr. Goldberg last week during a private tour.

“The tour isn’t always about rose gardens, but I didn’t want to do a Rose Society tour of gardens that didn’t have roses. That doesn’t make much sense to me,” Mr. Goldberg responded. “This is a completely unique garden. I think it’s very different for the estate section of Southampton. It’s modern and outrageous in a way that fits the architecture of the house and it’s unexpected. As you explore it, it just gets crazier and crazier. And the highlight, for me, is this fabulous rose garden.”

A grid of cherry trees and pavers—original to the circa-1959 modern home—sit opposite the pool area, which is dotted with a dozen colorful planters, a waterfall and woodland path by way of sedum tiles planted with tiny succulents, Mr. Bell explained.

But that’s not to say Mr. Bell completely strayed from the traditional. The hidden cutting garden is boxwood-edged and “very English,” he said. He also features a centered, classic urn planted with tropical banana, black elephant ear and Goldilocks.

Then there are the rose beds, he reported. And the David Austin English climbers that are trained up the property’s old locust trees.

“These are not your typical, lined-up roses in a semi-circle,” Mr. Bell said. “I like to design for the house and I like to be very natural, so I like using different textures and colors, which also gives it that modern feel.”

The gardens of Folly Fields, which surround a shingle-style manse, had always been classic and traditional. Until Carole and Frederick Guest recently decided to get creative.

The most radical changes live within the border, which is planted with lamb’s ear, nepeta, lady’s mantle, lacecap hydrangea, butterfly bushes, salvia, iris, lilies, monarda and foxglove. Its new modern edge includes numerous ornamental grasses and boxwood hedges groomed into S-curves and vertical waves.

“I think this is one of the best borders in Southampton, by far,” Mr. Goldberg said. “It’s just gorgeous.”

But, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without roses—a lot of them.

“What’s great about this house is Carole uses roses everywhere,” Mr. Goldberg said. “She uses them formally, she uses them casually, she has them climbing up the house. She uses roses the way they should be used.”

The Southampton Rose Society will hold a self-guided tour of six village gardens on Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Gardens include those of Anthony Roncalli and Eric von Kuersteiner; Audrey and Martin Gruss’s “Fairfield;” Patty and George Kraus’s “Ocean Dream;” Carole and Frederick Guest’s “Folly Fields;” the society’s organic rose garden at the Southampton Cultural Center and its 10-year-old rose garden at the Rogers Memorial Library. Tickets are $75. For more information, call 740-4732 or visit

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