Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Behind the Scenes at the Newport Flower Show

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I’ve worn many hats over the years, all with pride in the Newport Flower Show which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. As a former co-chair of this summer Show, a flower arranging judge and an exhibitor, I’ve been intimately involved with all the fun (and knotty, at times) behind-the-scenes goings on.

Newport Flower Show

And prep is everything! … for the crews that assemble (and breakdown) all the infrastructure for the front lawn garden designers, for the floral arrangers in Rosecliff and for the boutique vendors on the back lawn.

Newport Flower Show

The prep also includes those gardeners who bring in their cut specimens for the horticulture division of the Show.

Newport Flower Show

Note to self- mustn’t forget to arrange flowers for Newport Flower Show arriving house guests.

Newport Flower Show

Filling out horticultural cards and referencing previous year’s winners is another step for entry day.

Newport Flower Show

But prep is just as important a consideration for the visitor to this special, memorable late June event. What to wear (fabulous or practical)? Shall I bring a hat (which one)? What to buy? And what not to miss…

Let me offer my practical tips to make the most of your time at the Newport Flower Show.

For starters…Shopping, of course. There are 70 high end boutiques on the Oceanside lawn and 17 in the garden marketplace fronting Rosecliff. Find a copy of the Newport Daily News special Flower Show insert and go straight to the Show Map with its layout and listing of all boutiques and vendors. Review the list and their locations and make a plan! Take it from me…you’ll need all the time you can get.

Newport Flower Show

Secondly, dress in layers. This is New England; the weather changes on a dime, foggy in the morning, hot at noon. Bring a Newport staple (a Pashmina) or other shawl; temperatures here drop 20 degrees at night. Leave your stilettos at home (you’re on grass all day which may be damp from night dew.) I wear my favorite gardening shoes. And this is Newport. Enjoy the opportunity to wear bright floral shades and forego the LBD.

Hats of any style are riguer. Reminder: There is a fabulous hat resource amongst the vendors. One of the beauties of this Show is that most of the action is outside (just like Chelsea.)

Newport Flower Show

Next year bring some friends and partake in the VIP custom-tailored itineraries that wrap private garden tours, access to the other mansion museums and special privileges around the Flower Show events.

What Not to Miss

As soon as you get to the Show (hopefully at 10:30 AM on Friday) go straight to the cut specimen class on the terrace off Rosecliff’s ballroom. This wealth of the best from good gardener’s gardens doesn’t stay fresh long, so catch them first. Then head back into the house for the floral arrangements.

Newport Flower Show
If you only have so much time, plan to go to the Friday opening night cocktail/buffet from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Then you can look, shop, sip & nibble all while taking in the well-turned out party-goers.

Newport Flower Show
Check out the lectures and demonstrations in the tent at the foot of Rosecliff’s terrace steps which provide an impressive roster of talent that is free to Show visitors.
Finally, treat yourself to a Del’s frozen lemonade or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, all down by the balustrade overlooking the ocean with a small band playing under a gazebo.

I applaud the time, talent and support of the staff, the exhibitors and the volunteers that make the Newport Flower Show possible!

Newport Flower Show


Newport Flower Show Schedule

Friday, June 19th, 2015: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, June 20th, 2015: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, June 21st, 2015: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

If you enjoy this article, please share it!
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".

One thought on “Behind the Scenes at the Newport Flower Show

  1. Thanks Bettie! I have fond memories of past shows and just got done perusing your first book ‘Private Newport’ for a little Newport fix! Hope you have fun this weekend…I know you will…wish I was there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.