09/02/2014 10:22 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2014

Hamptons Journal: Buddha Rules on Guild Hall's Garden Tour

What is grass? This is a question posed by Walt Whitman in his epic poem Leaves of Grass, offering an image of the most democratic of God's greens, plentifully available to everyone from paupers to princes. The same question posed at Guild Hall's August 23 panel, moderated by Edwina von Gal, made grass an image of golf courses, majestically manicured lawns, and the moneyed elite, often maintained with the use of toxins. The panel wanted to offer alternatives, to preserve our planet, and to save the populace from diseases such as cancer. Paul Tukey, spoke of the lessons learned from his grandma in Maine, about the "poop loop," the benefits of dandelions, and compost tea.

Asked about re-educating on the subject of soil for green living, Stephen Orr favored the judicious use of gravel, patio stone. His upcoming book, The New American Herbal, is due for September release.

The parties moved on, to Andy Sabin's Springs waterfront retreat, where luncheon was served. Tibetan flags welcomed visitors along the driveway. The ample grounds seemed to celebrate a cacophony of growth, just as God designed it. Statues of Buddha graced the Asian themed house, giving it a spiritual calm. Sabin said he had just returned from Tibet where he buried Peter Matthiessen's ashes in Shangri-La, along with his book, The Snow Leopard. His latest novel, In Paradise, came out just after the author's death, in April.

Another house in North Haven, Bettina and Fred Stelle's waterfront property had a few Buddhas as well. When I asked Fred Stelle if he practiced Buddhism, he said no, but the serene grounds seemed haunted by their historic inhabitants: silent film actors who farmed out east during the Depression.

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