Behind the Private Gates, Gardening How-Tos, In the Garden

12 Ideas to Borrow from St. Louis Gardens

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There is inspiration in every garden, if perhaps only as confirmation, but “visiting and viewing” is the very best way to up your garden game. For me, it is one of the pleasures of travel — ranking right up there with meeting new garden aficionados and taking lessons from their creations. Seeing a given design basic interpreted through someone else’s eyes is always enlightening!

Here are my latest insights and reconfirmations of garden design basics, dressed in new ways and from a part of the country that I hadn’t visited in years.

1. A gate adds an element of intrigue (what’s behind there?) while at the same time serving as an opportunity to inject another design note into a garden plan. It makes an “occasion” of entering a space.

2. Water features enhance any garden space, whether it is a fountain, pond or birdbath. Keep it on your list!

3. Add interest and charm to a pond — a duck house, a small boat dock (even if it’s not used) — give the appealing impression that this is a part of the lifestyle of the property.

4. Never let a vista go unattended…or, create your own! The eye will naturally be drawn to a point off in the distance, allowing you to increase the viewing pleasure.

5. “More is more” — a sweep of plants adds a dramatic moment to any season — iris in spring, daffodils in late winter.

6. Keep wit at the ready. Mary-Randolph Ballinger well understands that playing on the name of this part of the garden adds to its importance in the overall scheme of the property.

7. What’s better than a pool house that looks out on the pool? A structure that is open on both sides providing two views!

8. “When you see pairs, buy them,” as my mother always said. Even small “finials” add a dressed-up note to the low stone wall and stepping-stone path up the hill.

9. Everything doesn’t always have to be immaculately neat. Throw in a bit of humor and “let nature be.” This bench along a path belies the otherwise well maintained property and adds an amusing contrast.

10. Statuary always deserves a backdrop, all the better if it is centered on a vista or architectural detail. Here, viewing Neptune also gives you a reason to notice the wonderful bay window and it’s well-considered roof line.

11. Seek out unusually sized and shaped planters and let them star in a spot all their own.

12. Add a birdhouse…

Thank you again, members of the Garden Club of St.Louis, for these wonderful garden memories.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “12 Ideas to Borrow from St. Louis Gardens

  1. Bettie….a very insightful article, especially enhanced by the photos….I got lots of good ideas !



    1. Oh those gardens…what a pleasure to write about them. And it is the gardener owners who providied the insight.
      So happy this was informative!

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