Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

14 Signature Images from Parterre’s Early Summer Garden

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While spring’s newsworthy amount of rain has definitely impacted moods in Newport, the silver lining in the clouds has been the bountiful appearance of every blooming thing — from trees to hedges to flowers. So much so, that I’ve been tempted to share a point in time that is usually not a big highlight in my designed-for-mid-summer garden. Even I am a bit flabbergasted by what I’m seeing.There are moments in a garden when one plant comes into bloom and for a brief period alters the perception of the whole design. These moments are to be cherished…

Starting at the  front entrance, the full flowering crab trees silhouetted against our “young” copper beech just take my breath away!

Continuing along the drive, a rare weeping Chinese lilac was a  Eureka moment years ago at the Newport Flower Show’s exhibit in Boston.

One of my dreams was to create a mini arboretum at Parterre; this cornus controversa variegata (also known romantically as the “wedding cake tree” because it grows in layers) is impossible to find today. How I adore it, its bright white and green leaves set off by the woodland against which it was purposely sited.

A panoramic vista with the house as  a backdrop to the hosta bed under the tall European Little-leafed Linden where the path to the woodland begins.

We love our misty mornings in Newport, providing moisture even if it isn’t raining.

Signs of the season, especially this year…European orchard ladders, indispensable for pruning trees (the Hally Jolivette cherries) and the crescent sweep of the copper beech hedge. What would we do without Bartlett Tree?

In the Black and White garden, variegated leaf astrantia are a foil to the heuchera ‘Obsidian’ while white tulips drop their petals from all the rain.

White wisteria provides its own kind of magic against the weathered boards and lattice of the pergola.

“Le petit foret,” as I  refer to it now, was once a sea of brambles, stinging nettle, wild  roses and unmentionables that we lovingly resurrected; it is the only such habitation on Bellevue Avenue.

Clipped and pruned, just awaiting the first garden tour of the season.

When creating my garden twenty years ago, one of the driving precepts was the importance of the garden horticulturally; every plant choice must pass the litmus test — “would this enhance a floral arrangement?” I can’t help but include the first arrangements from my garden, to which I so look forward!

Precious lilies of the valley, grown up against a tree trunk in the woodland, are the most elegant of the late spring garden.

The branches of the driveway’s crabapples provide just what was needed for my favorite mantle vases.

Periwinkle clematis and ‘coral charm’ peonies both blooming at exactly the same time. How could I not pair them (in a simple square glass holder)?

Now off to pick some peony buds to put in the fridge and “hold over” for the Newport Flower Show entries. Hope to see you there…

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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".

20 thoughts on “14 Signature Images from Parterre’s Early Summer Garden

  1. Bettie, your blog is such a treat. Sally Huffman shared it with me. What a gift

  2. Yes, I agree with you regarding the blooming plants. It’s like each actor comes out and has a standing ovation then goes back stage All the while all the actors (plants) get to take center stage. It gets a little exciting in the month of June around here when the rises really take center stage and late blooming peonies. It’s all quite a show I am in awe of it all.

  3. Breathtaking Bettie. We are headed to Newport in a few days. First time to be there this early in summer. More excited than ever after seeing your beautiful photographs. Sally

  4. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for this much needed dose of uncommon
    elegance and beauty in an increasingly common world. Nan

  5. Wow Bettie, your gardens are exquisite and beautiful examples for all gardeners to admire. I especially love the sharp contrast in color of the black and white gardens. I have a few dark purple tulips in my own garden and am now inspired to achieve a small version of your garden. Inspiring!! Philly

    1. Thanks! Getting ready for all your big celebrations? You’ll need to come to Newport for a rest after this. Have fun!, xo Bettie

  6. I would live in your remarkable garden 24/7 if I could; you would have to evict me. 🙂 You are an amazing “artist”; touring your grounds via the internet was both inspiring and comforting. I enjoyed most of all the different shades of greens that only mother nature can provide but you have so cleverly brought together. I must also agree that the “wedding tree” was one of my favorites. So beautiful; thank you so much for sharing. Cheers, Evelyn

    1. It’s always a pleasure to invite friends into my garden!! Thank you for your thoughts, Evelyn.

  7. Darling Bettie, I enjoy your beautiful images, so inspiring. happy memories of good times together. Love, Elsie

    1. I, too, remember them so well, too. Just last week I was at a garden club meeting re. garden submissions to the Smithsonian. Now there are some memories!

  8. Would you know where my landscaper could buy a Wedding Cake tree? We are willing to go anywhere.
    I love your gardens. Magnificent!!

    1. Oh Marcia, they are next to impossible to find. Mine and the 2 others that I gave to friends were from either Washington state or Oregon.Have your landscaper hire a tree broker; that’s the best way to search them out! Good luck, xB

  9. That wedding cake tree is Fantastic. Beautiful gardens!! You popped up on my Google feed. So glad. Subbed

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