Behind the Private Gates, Entertaining, In the Garden

Fêtes des Fleurs at Parterre

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The Newport Flower Show theme this year at Rosecliff — Fêtes des Fleurs — might just as well have been talking about what was going on next door at Parterre, friends and houseguests (from Toronto to Miami), flowers galore and fête’s that didn’t stop…with the addition of a special guest of honor, Iris Apfel.

This is always a big weekend (for me, possibly the biggest of the year, given the season and my love of gardens). This year at the Show: a Jeff Leatham luncheon and floral demonstration and Opening night party on Friday, Eric Haskell luncheon on Saturday, interspersed with garden visitors and shopping. That last item, shopping, brings me to a delicious “meant-to-be” story (my male readers may wish to sign out at this point as the post is about to become a “chick lit” piece).

Iris decided to drop off a few pieces of her famous jewels to sell at the Preservation Society booth. One of my house guests just happened to have a chance conversation with a gentleman on the back lawn who mentioned the jewels. Head over we did to that booth and lo and behold, within the selection there just happened to be one that spoke to each of us. Sucking in our breaths, price be damned, we plunked down our credit cards and headed home. It was only as we were each pulling out our already selected outfits for dinner that we realized each piece of jewelry we had selected matched each outfit perfectly! The true finishing touch…

The look on Iris’s face when she arrived at Parterre with the four of us lined up to greet her…wearing her former jewels…was priceless.

The rest of the evening seemed a blur of new friends arriving for cocktails, old friends strolling through the parterres, chatter and invitations flying for the following week’s Mark D. Sikes arrival, sips of champagne. Here are some glimpses…

First step and always one of my favorites… prepping, in the Orangerie which is the centerpiece of the gardens.

…and photographed by Newport’s own Nick Mele, a-Slim-Aarons-for-the-Millenial-set (as I like to describe him).

Although Iris’s birthday is two months away, I wanted to surprise her (as we had last summer) with a fête cake…but this time instead of bracelets, the cake was decorated with flowers, to celebrate the Flower Show. What a finish to a special night.

Speaking of cake — kisses from Newport…

All photos by, Nick Mele Photography.
Cake by Isis Cakes RI.
Catering by The English Cousins.

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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".

20 thoughts on “Fêtes des Fleurs at Parterre

  1. Bettie, you are a river of talent! You capture the essence of beauty everywhere you look, photographing and writing with great elegance and eloquence complete with a yummy sprinkle of humor. Love opening your emails-please keep them coming!

  2. Bettie, you are a river of talent! You capture the essence of beauty everywhere you look, photographing and writing with great elegance and eloquence complete with a yummy sprinkle of humor. Love opening your emails-please keep them coming!

    1. Here they come, Tuesday and Thursday.And when are we all reconvening this summer?? Let’s put our heads together now that LW is back. xo

  3. Such a fabulous post, Bettie, you so perfectly captured what was truly a magical weekend! I cannot thank you enough for your most gracious hospitality. We all left with cherished new friends and delightful memories. You are the hostess with the mostest… a treasured gem!


    1. YOU three made it!! Thank you again for taking on the journey when you have other important priorities…”meant to be.”
      I’m missing you all muchly, xox

  4. Looks like a fun time. Gardens look beautiful as always. I thought I recognized the artwork of the cake. Love Isis’s cakes. She’s so talented.

    1. Thank you! And yes, Isis’s cake made the evening. Of course, I knew her way back when she was a private gardener. Love seeing how far she’s come.

  5. Dearest Bettie, This all looks amazing! Thanks for pointing out the jewlery! The pieces are true works of art! You look as gorgeous as your garden! Cape Diem! Ann Davenport

    1. How are you, my dear?? Think of you often and am still enjoying the memories of your visit as well as those divine gift cards. Thank you again…and yes, carpe diem (if it doesn’t exhaust me)! Happy summer, Bettie

  6. WOW…………………NOW THAT IS PRICELESS!!!!!!
    From what I could see the jewelry was STUNNING!
    Take a gander over to my site today and meet the INCREDIBLE SANDRA SALLIN at 76!!!!!!!
    I think YOU will ENJOY!

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