Behind the Private Gates, Entertaining, In the Garden, The Parterre Bench


An Impromptu Evening in September

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This summer unofficially closed with a rare “balmy” night that prompted me to embrace the spirit of the last few months — finding a creative way to breach the stifling protocols of Covid-19, and continue my romance with the great outdoors, and my garden specifically. While I have typically used the gardens for daytime events and cocktail strolls with friends, I was inspired anew by the feel of this particular day. It promised to be a once-a-summer- night al fresco, so I made a quick call to two dear friends and started planning an early pop-up dinner for four.

The spot I chose? One that I had never considered for dinner, until this summer of very small gatherings…around the Parterre Bench in the Fountain Garden. It was a special view, looking across to the south-facing side of the house with the melodic sound of the fountain splashing in the water.

A put away and forgotten Italian linen cloth was my starting point; its perfect weight let it sway gracefully in the soft breeze.

It’s also the height of dahlia season now in Newport! A bird’s eye view of the supper scene shows them arranged in a footed metal epergne that is perfect for floating these beauties.

Fall colors, brightened with goldenrod yellow, speak to the subtle transition of a seasonal change, and yellow cherry tomatoes from our Cutting Garden add their seasonal note to the tablescape.

Of course I couldn’t resist giving the Parterre Bench a festive dress-up.

Trying a new setting for a supper table also gives us the opportunity to view plantings and design details from a new perspective.

May your Fall be filled with spontaneous moments with friends.

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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".

27 thoughts on “An Impromptu Evening in September

  1. Bette, I subscribe to several garden and landscape design blogs, but yours always outshines the rest. Your elegance, grace, and style shines in your beautiful photography and commentary. The historical elements you include sets you apart. Many thanks.

    1. Thank you, Linda, for your kind words! I’m so pleased that you are part of my Private Newport family. Enjoy, and stay in touch. xB

  2. So pretty and seasonal. It’s been lovely outside, so I’m having a brunch tomorrow on the terrace, with the fountain also. Very idyllic. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Love the china! Remembering our little expedition last Sept. Looks gorgeous as usual & oh how I miss dahlias. Too hot in FL🙁

  4. Stunning, as usual! Feel like I’m in France viewing your pictures. Lucky couple who joined you…….Cricket & Cookie say hi ….did you have Clicquot ? On the table & inside? Xxx

    1. Thanks, and so good to hear from you! Were you ever up this summer?
      HUgs to Cricket and Cookie and Clicquot sends kisses back. xxB

  5. Beautiful complimentary fall colors! Your guests surely must have felt spoiled, especially in such a glorious setting. Hugs!

  6. Such a feast of beauty for the eyes & spirit very uplifting. Thank you for all your visions of fabulousness such a joy to peruse. The dinner set in these pictures is gorgeous can you tell me what the brand is & if it is possible to buy.
    Please continue to share your talent & brilliant photos with us.

    1. Yes, yes, and yes, thank you so much for all your kind words! The plates (my new favorites) came from an antiques store here in Newport. Old but look new…xB

    1. Many mercis, my dear. So happy to know that you’re now receiving the blog for sure! I actually thought of you as I was orchestrating this last-minute tablescape; entertaining just seems to run in our veins, doesn’t it? Hope all’s well with you and yours! xB

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