Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


16 Signature Images from Newport’s Private Gardens

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It’s been a somewhat interesting summer in Newport. While the town seemed busier than ever, confirming yet again that our City by the Sea is a very desirable destination, the private events have been fewer and at a more manageable pace. Whether it was a garden club meeting, hospital fundraiser or just a drinks party, I couldn’t resist capturing the characteristics unique to each of these three properties that just “say” summer for me.

Through the eyes of its younger generation owners, this just-off-Bellevue estate…

has dressed up an existing reflecting pond with water lilies and the large Victoria lily pads while taking advantage of a “borrowed” view of the clock tower, originally part of the property.

At the head of the reflecting pond, outdoor entertaining opportunities have been enhanced via an elaborate lattice design inspired by decorator Elsie de Wolfe’s ‘Villa Trianon’ in France. But this facade has a functional side, too; a working fireplace centers the design around which cozy seating is arranged while a side panel hides a sink and work surfaces (also secreted behind the lattice is a rose garden and bocce court).

The swimming pool area retains its original cheerful visage, where yellow-striped umbrellas repeat the color in large planter boxes filled with frangipani.

I’ve known this second property for many years and have enjoyed watching the well-designed, concise landscape mature into the original intent. Specimen trees are showcased with thoughtful accessory planting…

well-maintained blooming shrubs assure a summer-long interest…

and a pruned boxwood hedge surrounds a “secret garden” (entered through a wooden arch) that offers a punctuation to the manicured lawn.

Its gardener’s cottage, attached to the old Victorian greenhouse, is one of my favorites in town.

The third property is truly an enchanting setting! If you’re a fan of Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel, you’ll feel right at home walking around this cozy shingled house overlooking the crescent sweep of Third Beach. That stroll can often become its own form of meditation.

Outstanding specimen trees (European little leaf lindens, many varieties of beech, deep shades of evergreens—Hinoki cypress, Austrian pine and rhododendron) lend maturity to the impression of a woodland scene that in many ways also recalls the northwest United States.

Along the narrow, meanderinng creek, which has seen its share of contributions both in stone and welcome verdant notes, the sophisticated use of green with relevant spots of color create a fascinating collection of plant material, marrying with the artfully placed rocks.

On its own raised mound, the just-right-sized greenhouse has been given loving attention, set off by banks of white hydrangeas and always planted containers that grace the steps leading down to the open meadow and on to the beach.

So glad you could join me on this summer stroll…and now it’s September, the most beautiful month in Newport.

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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".

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