How My Hamptons Garden Grows

An epicure is one for constant questing. You get a bee in your bonnet for some new piece of furniture, or a local place stops stocking a must-have and you’re off!

Summer Saturdays find me crisscrossing the South Fork for unique finds: Sag Harbor Farmers Market for veggies and mushrooms; the Milk Pail for apples and cider; St. Anne’s Thrift Store for whatever strikes; Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop for treats; Schiavoni’s to fill in any gaps; Water Street Wines & Spirits for courage, all punctuated by as many estate sales and yard sales along the way as humanly possible.

Thankfully most people still don’t understand that thrift stores and yard sales out here aren’t about saving money, they’re about capturing vintage treasure. The savings are just a sort of bonus that allows you to buy MORE stuff.

As I get really into gardening for the first time, and in a limited space, I’m on a quest for THE perfect rectangular concrete planters.

I found FOUR antique examples just a block from my Sag Harbor home at Sage Street Antiques. They’re the size that I had in mind and in great condition. Slightly weathered, bark patterned. So solid and artsy-craftsy.

But surely there are other better, less costly ones to be had. I mean, I don’t need them to BE antique, I merely require that they look perfectly antique. You know how to make pots and statuary look antique, right? Yogurt. Just slather it on and the mold and lichens come a-runnin’.

So I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled at estate sales for the last couple of months. Sadly, it’s a slow season for these sales. (Or maybe that’s good news for some.) Anyway, despite all of my searching and my ingratiating myself with dealers, I’ve found nada.

When the shopping gets tough, the tough-to-please head to the Antiques Center on County Road 39 in Southampton.

It’s the classiest antiques mall around, over 30 dealers. There they have many things, including a painted cookstove, approximately 67 antique necklaces and fabu 19th century French jam jars. If they happened to have my dream planters I’d snap them up, but if not, I’d call upon their most valuable asset—Diane Fedak.

Diane gets me, she really gets me. If I can’t find a particular vintage something I can ask her where to get it. I could call on the phone but any excuse to see her and to peruse the latest acquisitions is a good one. Diane knows everyone and everything vintage on the East End.

They didn’t have my planters. Before I could even finish describing what I was looking for, Diane let out a hoot. She’d just been to a big gift show, looking for just that kind of thing. She showed me a wholesale catalog. Less ornate rectangular planters. Expensive even at wholesale. Then there’d be the shipping and installation. By the time I was out the door she had me convinced to head straight back to Sage Street. I should have listened to Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz:

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

Turns out the planters at Sage Street are a real bargain in this market. And I love to chat with the owner, Eliza Werner. Maybe she could tell me where to get a better deal on 19th century French jam jars. I’ve quite taken a shine to those now…

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