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Inga Howe-Geniesse

Bayberry Nursery & The Mindful Approach to Garden Design

In Search of a Greener New York is an ongoing Garden Collage series of explorations about sustainability efforts in New York City and beyond– including the people, places, and ideas that are making Manhattan a healthier, happier place to live. In this column, we spotlight individuals who are making New York a “greener” place in an attempt to discover how, exactly, they are doing it. This week, GC spotlights Bayberry Nursery, where purchasing plants is a holistic experience.

Bayberry Nursery, located in Amagansett, NY, is known as the garden house and landscaping business to the stars. David Seeler, the proprietor of Bayberry, has managed the business since 1969, when he fortuitously purchased it from the previous owner. The area has changed considerably since then, becoming an illustrious vacation destination for Manhattan’s elite– a reputation that doesn’t often conjure visions of exquisite nurseries.

But Seeler’s business isn’t about the fame and his impressive list of clientele (which, for the record, includes the likes of Ralph Lauren and Helmut Lang). It’s about nurturing a relationship to plants and nature. “[Bayberry Nursery] is a garden center, but I always want it to be more of a garden and less of a center,” Seeler explains. “So many garden centers you go to, they’re more centers than gardens– not really that much fun. It should be an experience.”

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Inga Howe-Geniesse

“I remember walking in the nursery the year before last after closing, and there was a man walking through the nursery,” Seeler recalls. “I said, ‘Can I help you?’ and he said, ‘Mr. Seeler, I’m so sorry– I live in Montauk and after I have a week of business, I come out to see my family for the weekend. But first I come here for twenty minutes and walk around, and to get back to Earth again, so I can put my business away and go to my family. This is my neutral zone.’”

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Inga Howe-Geniesse

The majestic calm of Bayberry’s twelve acres speaks to Seeler’s incredible ability to create a space with a positive psychological effect. (“This is what I call ‘Mental Health’,” Seeler confides.) When working with clients– especially those with a profession in the spotlight– Seeler prioritizes creating a space where they can find “their calm point” and encourages supporting mental health through the development of green spaces.

“That’s the part of design where you may be a very good designer, but unless you’re a good enough shrink to get inside [a client’s] head… You have to figure out what pleases them and what they see as their garden– not the one that you want but their garden. That, to me, is the skill of it.”

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