Searching for serenity? Seek out the sign for “Serenity Gardens” on the south side of Greenport’s North Street.
Having a hard time finding the sign? Look for a red barn with green trim. The barn is adorned with spray-painted antique tools and topped with a birdhouse in use by a family of sparrows.
You can’t miss it.
Inside you’ll find a gentle giant. His name is Glenn Jones and he stands a full 6 feet, 10 inches tall. Mr. Jones, 56, is a painter, gardener, carpenter and excavating hobbyist. He’s called the eclectic barn and its surrounding grounds home for almost five years.
In that time, Mr. Jones said, he’s transformed what was a junkyard and decomposing barn into an extravagant garden, picturesque wood shop and even a greenhouse constructed entirely from old windows.
“That shed was falling into the ground when I moved here,” he said. “It took me years to re-foot it, straighten it out and renovate it as I went. The siding is all from a lady’s fence here in Greenport. She was getting rid of all the cedar, so I put it on the side of the shed, added the shutters, windows, that door, painted it — everything.
“I’m pretty crafty.”
Mr. Jones said that when his landlord, Michael Carbone, took note of the work he was putting into the old building, he suggested Mr. Jones use it as a wood shop. And he certainly put it to that use.
A white bench sitting against the side of the wood shop was constructed from an old headboard Mr. Jones found.
The peak of the shop’s roof, which can be seen from the road, is adorned with a treasure trove of objects Mr. Jones has personally excavated from the ground.
“All these objects are from Greenport,” he said. “There’s a start crank to a car, a big shoe for an ox, saws, kitchen implements, a tomahawk. I sanded and spray-painted everything. The Jersey City thing is the top of a barrel I found down by the cell towers where the dumps are. I saw the top of it while I was digging, came back with a chisel and hammer and chiseled it out of the drum like a can.”
He’s also used recycled objects to construct a greenhouse, which is set in a secluded corner of Serenity Gardens.
“I built the greenhouse out of old windows from different jobs here in Greenport,” he said. “The front door is a storm window from a home built in the village in the 1830s. I’m going to winterize the greenhouse so I can use it all year round. Then, I can germinate and sell plants to Clarke’s Garden.”
Mr. Jones recently sold potted canna plants to Clarke’s, a garden store on Greenport’s Main Street, and plans to cut some of his many sunflowers to be sold as bouquets.
In addition to more traditional sunflowers, he also grows Mexican sunflowers, which grow as a bush and have small, bright orange blooms.
“I got a big interest in gardening from when I grew up on Ketchum Farm in Westhampton,” he said. “When I moved to Sayville, I worked in Bayport Flower Houses for seven years. They wanted to pay to send me to Cornell, but I felt like I wasn’t ready. I’ve done a lot of reading and research through the years, though. Just about everything you see here in the garden I’ve grown from seed.”
Mr. Jones’ vegetable garden includes an Asian variety of miniature corn often found in Chinese food, which he grew from seed he said is from Thailand. He also grows ornamental Christmas peppers and tomatoes.
But most impressive are his garden’s many flowers. Zinnias, delphinium and dahlias are just a few of the garden’s floral wonders.
Mr. Jones’ specialty is morning glories.
“I established all the morning glories when I moved in,” he said. “There’s eight different kinds and I even have them growing up the telephone wires around the property. The red ones are scarlet climbers and actually, I painted the walls of my apartment morning glory blue. I painted those walls about a zillion times until I found the right color.”