Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


A Tale of Two Orangeries

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Part of the pleasure of building your own home in Newport is the ritual of naming it (very de riguer — taken so literally that one witty friend tagged their abode “No View”).

After much deliberation, we decided on Parterre. Then, once in the spirit, we made a game of naming other parts of the property, playing off the French architecture — “the Dovecote” (where no doves live, but lots of tools and fountain mechanisms reside); the “Tapis Vert” the crescent-shaped lawn off the back stone terrace and “the Orangerie,” my favorite for many reasons; firstly, because it was a surprise Christmas gift from my husband. In another setting it would probably be referred to as a gazebo, but here I prefer the romantic term, used in France for wintering over orange trees (or Limonaria, in Italy, for lemon trees).

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Our Orangerie wears many hats — many of them garden-related — and is the centerpiece of the  southern-half of the property. I’ll be sharing it with you in its many iterations over the next seasons, but for now, I just want to introduce you. When better to start than

“Opening the garden for the season” time…which has been very late this year.

A General Spring To-Dos List

Rake and clean beds
Condition, fertilize and spray
Trim and prune
Compost and mulch
Repair and paint planters
Edge tree circles and garden beds
Re-pot container trees or shrubs
Replace plantings lost over winter

Level paths and add new pea stone
Stake and/or start training plantings
Bring out and place containers,
planters, tuteurs, accessories
Empty, clean and refill fountain
Test sprinkler systems
Plant new tree(s)

The Orangerie is nestled close to the woodland on the southern edge of our property, where a plant palette of shade-loving selections reside in the Black and White garden

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…while the north-facing vista, with a long view of the pergola, is all about the sun.

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A glass-paneled roof that may be manually opened also means that the Orangerie can  serve as an informal green house, which a special succulent obviously loves.

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There are other creative opportunities, also…”Benjamin Bunny” is enthusiastically anticipating the tiny-leafed euonymus that will soon cover him in his entirety and help anchor him to his edge-of-the-urn seat.

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And a wonderful clump of bun moss (app.14″long) becomes a small seal with a button nose and eyes in the hands of my good-humored gardener. We have a good time here at Parterre!

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“Opening the garden for the season” includes nursing seeds and young plants for which the Orangerie is perfectly suited. And one of its key functions is as a place to winter over my personally designed monogram bench, which will be making its debut soon!

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Once finished with spring to-dos, the interior (including a carved frieze, antique French plaques and multi-armed metal chandelier) offers many opportunities to entertain friends.

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There’s a lot to do in a very short time period, but this image of what is to come once we finish keeps me on target.

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This setting and the memories of a book signing party in Dallas hosted for me at a friend’s home, give me the chance to also share with you her new Orangerie.

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Its view is of one of my very favorite gardens, a romantic, intimately-scaled space that includes a crescent-shaped pool with delicate water sprays, a stone bridge that crosses a narrow creek and a vintage boat house.

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My friend and I share a love of even the smallest details, such as blue-gray Dusty Miller used here to create a petit treillage (perhaps to echo the delicate trellis work on the sun room which overlooks this small bed).

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The interior views are as magical, to include the sun room’s feminine, singular trellis walls and ceiling and, of course, her new Orangerie.

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What an elegant way to handle a glass wall, a design used at both the front and back of the structure, while the recessed oval windows are the final, subtle detail to a very welcoming  and livable Orangerie.

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Merci, Peggy…

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7 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Orangeries

  1. Seals in your garden – so creative……… Loved them – must do. The monogramed bench is a wonderful touch.

    1. Thank you, Marcy, this means a lot. Enjoy the upcoming summer blogs; I’m just putting the finishing touches on some I think you’d love…or send me your ideas!

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