Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden


A Late Summer Vegetable Garden

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It’s been busy around my good friend Alice Ross’ abode this summer — she’s bottling honey from her bee hives, delivering Olive’s four Havanese-mix puppies, growing vegetables in the midst of a drought and adding an orchard to the southern side of her property (we’ll talk about the bosquet another day).

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Today I’ll give you a little peek at each, but it is her re-configuring of the property’s original garden layout that deserves the main focus. In short, a neat and tidy collection of vegetables now serve as bookends to her horse-shoe shaped English garden.

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All this has transpired since my book, Living Newport: Houses, People, Style, came out two years ago, featuring her nineteenth century McKim, Mead & White historic home. It’s always a treat to record the evolution of the singular private Newport residences that comprise my two books. And since it is late summer, when vegetables are abundant, we can all take inspiration from Alice’s talents. From the many varieties of tomatoes to Swiss chard, from kale to eggplant there’s a lot to be learned here.

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For starters, the seamless inclusion of raised vegetable beds, climbing vines and fruit-blooming bushes that are kept as well manicured as the flower beds. Marrying veggies and flowers can produce a mixed-bag affair, so I was keen to take notes from a friend whose sensibilities I so admire. Planning up front is key so everything is in place from the beginning; once those veggies get going, it’s almost too late.

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Black metal tuteurs and edging are both favorites of Alice, lending a level of design detail as well as substantial support for tomato vines.

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A wooden obelisk, that can be planted on each layer, provides a practical addition as well as making a finial-topped statement in one of the raised vegetable beds.

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Strong four by four posts strung with heavy duty wire support pear espaliers and raspberries. Alice’s own ingenious design for the blueberry patch — a high and wide cage of black netting (with a small trap door in one corner)– protects the berries from foraging birds.

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And those puppies I mentioned? Here, with Alice in the garden.

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Enjoy these last days of summer.

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