Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

New York's The Daisy Hosts the 1st Stop of The Four Roses Charity Cocktail Challenge

New York's The Daisy Hosts the 1st Stop of The Four Roses Charity Cocktail Challenge



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Join Four Roses Bourbon in its partnership with the Folded Flag Foundation to raises funds for an admirable cause

Chelsea Davis

Bartenders' creations are judged based on presentation, taste, and originality.

Sunday night marked the first stop on the 10-city tour of the Four Roses Charity Cocktail Challenge. In partnership with the Folded Flag Foundation, Four Roses Bourbon will be donating $500 to the foundation's cause after each city's event.

The Folded Flag Foundation “serves to honor the legacy of and pay tribute” to the bravest individuals who have made enormous sacrifices in defense of America. Its mission is to “provide scholarship and educational support grants to the spouses and children of the United States military and government personnel who have lost their lives as a result of hostile action.”

Hosted by the Upper East Side's The Daisy, the cocktail challenge pitted 16 bartenders against each other to see who could make the best bourbon cocktail. Scored on presentation of both the cocktail and the bartender, as well as taste and originality, each bartender put on a show to help raise money and awareness to the Fold Flag Foundation's cause.

Check out these great summer cocktails.

Alongside cocktails like the Summer Toddy, a shaken mix of Four Roses Yellow label, fernet rinse, and sweet tea, garnished with mint, were platters of tasty appetizers that included mini cheeseburgers with sautéed onions, smoked salmon toasts topped with caviar, and guacamole bites.

Catch this fun charity event at the following cities occurring throughout the end of June: Chicago, Austin, Atlanta, Louisville, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa, and St. Louis. For more info, click here.

For more New York City dining and travel news, click here.


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Voyeurs in the Garden, Thorns in the Side

''I AM nervous I won't be blooming in time,'' said Dianne Blell, staring in dismay at her Fragrant Cloud and Bewitched rosebushes, which were definitely not cooperating.

With only 10 days to go before 300 strangers were to cast a critical eye on her freshly planted parterres, Ms. Blell was in a frenzy to transform a lush acre in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into what she hoped would achieve 'ɺ state of perfection.''

Ms. Blell's backyard will be one stop on four rival garden tours all scheduled (inadvertently) to take place in the Hamptons this weekend. The two with the most glamorous social connections, ''Landscape Pleasures'' and 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons,'' will be joined this year by the popular but less flashy Garden Conservancy and Southampton Rose Society tours. Among them they are expected to attract more than 1,200 visitors, weather permitting, offering peeks at a total of 26 private gardens.

'ɾven if you had a helicopter, you couldn't see it all,'' said Bob Dash, a veteran host who tends a celebrated garden in Sagaponack.

Throughout the Hamptons, garden owners are steeling themselves for a stampede expected to raise more than $150,000 for nonprofit groups, leaving in its wake trampled flower beds, aerated lawns (those stiletto heels!), stolen cuttings and wilted spirits. Mr. Dash has seen it all before. ''People show up, bewildered and bedraggled from trying to see five gardens in one day,'' he said, 'ɺnd all they want to do is use the bathroom.''

Yet more keep coming. Despite long days in the hot sun, garden tours are ''wildly popular'' and becoming more so, Mr. Dash said, not just on eastern Long Island but across America and beyond. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden both lead tours in far-flung places like Japan. ''We went to see Saburo Kato, the keeper of the emperor's bonsai,'' said one enthusiastic tour group member, Esther Tuttle, who has followed the Botanic Garden into 11 countries, including England, the perennial hotbed of garden tour mania. In the United States, the Garden Conservancy publishes ''Open Days Directory,'' a popular annual guide to hundreds of private gardens that open their gates at least one day a year, raising money for charities while providing a backdrop for plant lovers to prune and preen.

In the Hamptons, landscape designers, garden crews and trowel-wielding garden owners have been scrambling to perfect their showpiece Edens in time for the annual inspection. ''You try to have all the hedges pruned, so it looks immaculate,'' said Gerson Leiber, a painter married to Judith Leiber of jeweled-evening-bag fame. Their spectacular five-acre formal garden in Springs, East Hampton, is on the Animal Rescue Fund's tour, 'ɺrt World Gardens in the Hamptons.'' It will take tourgoers into the secret gardens of seven prosperous members of the local art scene.

The Leibers' garden, with its delectable boxwood parterres, yew hedges, rose gardens, potager and vast deciduous woodland park (developed over the last 44 years with the assistance of four full-time gardeners) can hardly be called arriviste. Garden snobs are still chuckling over the Southampton socialite on the benefit circuit last summer who was in such a rush to create a dazzling tableau vivant that she forgot to remove the price tags from the rose bushes before the guests arrived.

Why go to all this trouble when it would be easier to relax in the shade with a good book? Aside from the commendable impulse to help a charity, garden owners relish the opportunity to flaunt their acres, said Carol Mercer, a professional landscape designer in East Hampton. 'ɼreating a garden costs a lot of money -- especially out here,'' Ms. Mercer said. ''If you spend $4,000 on a Chanel suit, you want to be seen in it. It's the same with a garden. It's very flattering to have people admiring it.''

But admiring hordes can be a drawback. Descending from Porsches, Range Rovers and tour buses, they arrive eager to talk about the latest developments in grafting, cross-fertilization and Japanese beetle control.

Ms. Mercer was busy in her Ocean Avenue garden last Thursday while bracing herself for three groups of garden fanatics from as far away as Chicago. Then a call came from a garden club in Greenwich, Conn.

''It's too much -- I can't take it any more!'' said Ms. Mercer, who has also been pressed into service whipping clients' gardens into shape for the season's relentless round of outdoor lunches, dinners and cocktail parties.

''Giving tours used to be a lot of fun, but it's getting to be ridiculous,'' she said. ''I had 15 last year, and the phone keeps ringing.''

For many participants, plants are only part of the attraction. Tours also offer an opportunity to see how other people bend nature to their will, especially when money is no object.

As one gardener who cares more about plants than about their owners, Scott D. Appell, director of education for the Horticultural Society of New York, seems bewildered by the social thrust of some garden tours.

''The idea is to see what people are growing and what they're doing with their soil,'' he said. Mr. Appell shudders at the peeping toms who join the tours to see how the other half lives he sums up the phenomenon as ''voyeurism combined with a genuine interest in plants.''

For many, the combination is irresistible. ''People are desperate to see private gardens,'' said Susan Burke of Bedford, N.Y., Park Avenue, Jackson Hole and Nantucket. Her seaside garden on Nantucket will receive a tour group of 125 on July 13.

Ms. Burke is a proponent of what might be called judicious philanthropy, which can open the most desirable garden gates. ''The best I've gotten to see are through the New York Botanical Garden,'' she said. ''I've been to the queen mother's and Prince Charles's.'' But even with the Botanical Garden entree, she said, ''it requires a certain commitment to get to do those,'' expressed mainly in a willingness to pay top dollar.

Of all the gardens on view in the Hamptons this weekend, the grandest in scale is Linden, a 16.4-acre property on Ox Pasture Road in Southampton that is the picture of faded patrician splendor.

Named after the tall, fragrant trees that flank a 28-room house built in 1915, Linden possesses a vast lawn, an allee of copper beeches, a pear, peach and apple orchard, greenhouses and a cutting garden. Currently uninhabited, it was the summer residence of Lloyd H. Smith, a Houston oil multimillionaire who died last fall at 94.

Linden was never open to the public during the 47 years when the socially reclusive Mr. Smith summered there, according to John Murphy, the last of six live-in staff members. But now that the 17,000-square-foot house is for sale, with an asking price of $25 million, well-heeled visitors are more than welcome.

Many of those who enter the fray this weekend will be there for the roses. 'ɾveryone loves them, and they're at their best during the second week of June,'' said Perry Guillot, a landscape designer and co-chairman of the garden tour, which is expected to generate $125,000 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton.

There are other draws, including the novelist Jamaica Kincaid, and the British gardening expert Dan Pearson, who will address a symposium as part of the two-day ''Landscape Pleasures'' event. Tickets start at $125 for a contribution of $300 to $900, participants also get invitations to an arboretum lunch and a soiree at the East Hampton home of Charlotte Moss, the society decorator.

''The interest is pretty intense,'' said Laura Perrotti, director of special events at the museum, who expects more than 400 to participate. ''Selling garden tours in the Hamptons isn't difficult. It's like selling Gucci bags and Prada shoes.''

Indeed, the challenge isn't selling tickets it's finding enough interested hosts. ''Not everyone wants to be on a garden tour,'' said Mac Hoak, the owner of Mecox Gardens, an upscale garden store in Southampton, and a co-chairman of the Parrish benefit.

''Most people do it to help out a good cause,'' he said. 'ɻut it's an imposition. You can't be relaxing by the pool when 400 people arrive.''

THAT said, some tour hosts find a glimmer of self-interest in getting involved. ''I do it for the notoriety, to get clients, frankly,'' said Ms. Mercer, the landscape architect, whose garden will be featured on this year's Garden Conservancy tour. 'ɻut I also love my garden and I want to share it.''

Up to a point, of course. ''You have to watch like mad because sometimes people try to steal cuttings,'' she said. ''I have rare plants I've started from seeds I get in Europe, and people would love to steal the seeds.''

For Alan Rogers, the decision to be on the Parrish tour was eminently practical. ''I agreed because I knew it would force me to get my garden finished,'' said Mr. Rogers, the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the New York realty firm, who bought his weekend home on First Neck Lane in Southampton two years ago.

Two weekends ago, he seemed to be running out of time. ''I'm getting turf on Tuesday,'' he said, pointing to a troublesomely vast stretch of soil in front of his stucco home, which resembles a Hollywood mogul's dream house from the 1950's -- a rarity for stately Southampton. In keeping with the architecture, Mr. Rogers's landscape architect, Mr. Guillot, has installed a handsome, boldly symmetrical garden of soaring arborvitae and ilex parterres filled with a panoply of white iceberg roses. ''It's instant gardening, of course,'' Mr. Rogers, a British expatriate, conceded. 'ɻut I love Americans, because they say, 'I want Sissinghurst tomorrow,' and they get it done,'' referring to Vita Sackville-West's legendary castle garden in Kent.

John Alexander, a painter who shows at the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan and lives in a couple of converted barns in Amagansett, agreed to put his garden on the 'ɺrt World Gardens'' tour at the urging of Kathy and Billy Rayner, who are close friends. ''I told them, 'My place isn't spectacular enough,' '' Mr. Alexander said. ''Now I've agreed to do it, I'm a nervous wreck.''

To Mr. Alexander's chagrin, deer ate his budding roses for breakfast last week. ''They can go through a rose bush in seconds,'' he said, examining the damage.

His rolling two-acre garden, with a large pond populated by Japanese koi and stalking herons, still has plenty to offer, including a perennial bed ablaze with deep red peonies. And he is counting on a wall of intense purple clematis being in bloom by Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said: ''I'm tempted to leave town. I don't want to be here when all those people arrive.''

This weekend in the Hamptons, there will be these garden tours and more:

Landscape Pleasures (to benefit the Parrish Art Museum) a two-day symposium and tour of six gardens. Tickets for nonmembers start at $125. Kendra Owings, (631) 283-2118, ext. 33.

Art World Gardens in the Hamptons (to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund) a tour of seven gardens on Saturday. Tickets start at $50. (631) 537-0400.

Eastern Long Island Open Days (to benefit the Garden Conservancy) a tour of 10 gardens on Saturday, at $4 a garden. (888) 842-2442

Rose Show and Rose Tour (sponsored by the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons and the Southampton Rose Society) the rose show on Saturday (free admission) and tour of three gardens on Sunday. Tickets are $35, which includes membership in the Horticultural Alliance. (631) 537-2223. CHRISTOPHER MASON


Watch the video: Four Roses Bourbon Flower Hour 2012 (August 2022).