Sisters Embrace Native Plantings for East End Gardens - 27 East

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Sisters Embrace Native Plantings for East End Gardens

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The deMauros.

The deMauros.

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

The deMauros. DOUG YOUNG

The deMauros. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Anna and Emilia deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Emilia and Anna deMauro. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

Scenes from the deMauro + deMauro native garden at Martin Architects in Bridgehampton. DOUG YOUNG

authorMichelle Trauring on Apr 16, 2024

Anna deMauro thinks of her office as an art studio.

It is a place of beauty, where harmony, flow and cohesion marry. It is a space for memories, imagination and intimacy. But instead of pouring her creativity onto a canvas, she plants it in gardens — from elaborate, rolling landscapes to more modest containers and beds.

And she does it all alongside her sister, Emilia.

“Thinking back, I don’t think either of us would have expected the business to become what it has become,” Anna deMauro said during a call from their East Hampton studio, next to her sister. “I think it started out very small and has just grown — and we push each other and we have a lot of fun doing the work together.”

Growing up, the sisters lived in two worlds. The first was with their artist father on a pastoral, 100-acre farm in the hills of northern Pennsylvania, and the second was with their mother, a landscape designer who lived on the East End.

Here, they learned the ins and outs of gardens — “Our mom was a huge influence and we had a lot of experience just from spending all that time with her,” Emilia deMauro said — until their love of the arts took them down divergent creative paths.

Emilia deMauro trained and performed as a dancer in her early 20s and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, while her sister, who is two years older, leaned into her talent as a sculptor and a painter, and attended the Florence Academy of Art.

But in their 30s, they moved back to the East End and, both with young children, decided to start a landscape design business. In 2015, deMauro + deMauro was born.

“We always say that putting together a garden is much like painting a picture, so I think early on, our gardens — in our pots even — were always very painterly,” Emilia deMauro said. “And then it sort of grew organically.”

In the years since, their reputation as a studio that focuses on native, organic and wild gardens has grown, and recently caught the attention of architect Nick Martin and his wife, Christina, who quickly signed on as clients.

“I think in our very first phone call, there definitely was a like-mindedness,” Emilia deMauro said.

The couple hired the sisters to reimagine the landscape around Martin Architects in Bridgehampton — a quarter-acre parcel that Emilia deMauro described as an “old, forgotten property.”

In its stead, the Martins wanted a sustainable, calming, year-round refuge — one that exudes warmth, and welcomes peaceful and poetic moments. And, perhaps most importantly, they asked for a garden that would mature gracefully.

“There’s so many projects that you see that were landscaped well, but end up aging in a way that needs to be relandscaped because they’re not thinking about the maturity of the plants,” Nick Martin said. “I think, then, you end up with a really good result that you can live with that grows with you, and that’s what we’re after.”

With a shared vision in place, the landscape designers got to work. The process begins with Anna deMauro, who relies on her art background when she approaches any design, followed by input from her sister, who focuses more on client relations and project management.

“It’s much like when I’m working on a sculpture,” Anna deMauro said. “I think there’s a lot of parallels when it comes to being an artist and being a garden designer.”

After six months of planning, the pair divided the project into three areas of interest. The first, the driveway, is flanked by large Silver Column willow trees and is composed of natural stone dust, which has a muted tonal quality that complements the silvers and greens in the landscape. It leads to the back of the property, which opens into the informal courtyard — the second element — dotted with evergreen shrubs and a variety of flowering and native plants.

But, arguably, the star of the landscape is the meadow.

“It’s a community that’s supporting itself, so these plants are helping each other,” Emilia deMauro said. “And then we’re also considering successional flowering, or bloom time. And that was something that was really important to Nick and also very important to us — how the meadow and how the landscape is going to look throughout the entire year. Not just the summer season, but as it moves through spring, summer, fall and winter, that there’s always some sort of visual interest.”

Utilizing a matrix-style planting plan, which helps with weed suppression and water conservation, the deMauros hand-selected native species and pollinators to densely fill the meadow, including grasses, flowering species like slender blue iris, gray goldenrod, and white heath asters, small evergreen shrubs, and dwarf red-twig dogwoods. And while they approached the planting with a plan, there was also some improvisation on site.

“I think it’s the art,” Anna deMauro said. “You can’t help yourself because it’s the artists in us that then want to create something that’s spontaneous, that has life and vitality, and that can happen in the moment.”

This past summer, insects, birds and other pollinators flocked to the garden, Martin said, and about once every two weeks, a curious passerby will stop in — only to ask about the garden.

“It sets itself apart from everything on Montauk Highway that we see,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s something that we’re gonna be continuing and adding to.”

The deMauros have watched the garden mature from afar, they said, and have even found themselves surprised at its progress.

“We’ve only been in the ground one year, so it’s so exciting for us, personally, to watch it grow,” Anna deMauro said. “And there’s always something unforeseen or unexpected that happens, even though we know the plants and we designed it.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing it this year,” her sister said.

“And it’s also so different, like each season,” Anna deMauro continued. “In the winter, all the grasses are tall and they’re beige and wheat-colored, and then, come spring, it’ll all be this wispy, light green. Summer is flowering and out of control and beautiful. It’s a lot of fun.”

The landscape designers noticed an uptick in demand for native gardens at the start of the pandemic, they said. Their clients began sending them articles about these landscapes as sources of inspiration — when, in most cases, the sisters had recently read those same stories themselves, they said.

“For reasons of needing to move in this direction, we want to have a positive impact on our environment and the world, and do the right thing,” Emilia deMauro said. “So using native material, no chemicals, I think people are wanting to move in this direction.”

“It should be a joyful experience, having a garden or having a landscape,” her sister added, “and I think there’s been this thing where it becomes a bit of a burden, of just feeling like you can’t keep up with it and it costs a ton of money to maintain it.”

But, in fact, the opposite is true, Emilia deMauro said. Moving in a “naturalistic direction” is often lower maintenance, she said, and does not require much work.

“You can see beauty and the evolution of the garden through the seasons. There’s beauty in the grasses, turning to wheat and the interesting seed heads. Instead of cutting it all back, enjoy it,” she said. “Anna and I, we could see it happening everywhere — and I think it is. The more that we can see of this, the better.”

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