Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Garden Wisdom, Heralding a New Summer

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With a Memorial Day weekend that rained 24/7 I had long hours to sit by the fire and re-read some of my cherished garden books. The perspectives that I picked up among those pages inspired today’s blog. One that resonated, through many different voices, was a universal truth expressed without irony by Allan Armitage (renowned horticulturalist), “Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.” So as we step into this promising new summer, I wanted to pass along other gardeners’ wisdom and unique takes on gardening.

1. Gertrude Jekyll…the garden should fit its owner, his or her tastes, just as one’s clothes do; it should be neither too large nor too small, but just comfortable.

2. Rosemary Verey…when you’re exploring a garden, always remember to turn around and look the other way to get another perspective.

3. Audrey Hepburn…to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

4. Prince Charles…long shadows cast by avenues and hedges in the winter are…an essential rewarding feature of a garden set in its landscape.

5. Jacques Wirtz…if you have the opportunity to make a bold stroke, you have to do it!

6. Deborah Nevins…well-articulated spaces encourage intimacy between people and the landscape.

7. Sir Roy Strong…never cease to be brave…even if you are entering your seventieth year. Innovation is still possible…go out in a blaze of madness.

8. Charlotte Moss…I believe that flowers have so much more to say and teach us after they’ve reached their prime. (Hmm, might that be said as well for many of us reading this post?)

10. Bunny Williams…too often a perennial border is equated with a garden; that’s comparable to mistaking a couch for a room. Think about the room first, and then decide how you will furnish it; embrace the importance of a garden’s entire design—this includes style, hardscaping, containers, ornaments, furniture. Not just the plantings.

11. Percy Cane (as told to Rosemary Verey)…you should always make the longest possible distance into your most important vista and give it an interesting focal point.

12. Oscar de la Renta…gardening is the work of a lifetime you never finish.

13. Harold Peto…old buildings (or fragments of) recall the past in a way that a garden of only flowers cannot. For the highest development of beauty, a garden must be a combination of architecture and plants in “just proportion.”

14. And, lastly, from yours truly…cherish a “borrowed” view and incorporate it into your garden’s design (all the more exciting if it’s not your property).

Happy Summer 2021 to you…and your friends, with whom you can now gather!

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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".

30 thoughts on “Garden Wisdom, Heralding a New Summer

    1. Thank you!! It was such fun pulling them together as the rain was pouring outside…see you soon! xB

  1. Just beautiful. Along with a love of gardens, I have an entire library of books, Bettie. In fact, you might say I have a book addiction. I inherited the addiction from my mother, along with her collection, many of which are first editions and signed by the authors. It’s wonderful to go back and revisit them. Oh well, I suppose it’s preferable to other addictions. Severalof the authors you mentioned, I’m not yet acquainted with, so I will have to investigate. Sigh…oh dear. I have a list of “save for later” books in my queue on It’s crazy! You are very naughty for doing this to me – thanks so much for leading me down the primrose path, Bettie

    1. Oh Lisa, I can so relate to your book quandry; but what a nice “addiction” to have. Do count on me to lead you down the primrose path. xB

    1. Thank you, “traveling gardener, “I’m sure you have some words of wisdom you’ve gathered, too. Perhaps you’d like to pass some along for my next blog on this topic?
      It would be so appreciated! xB

  2. How wonderful, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I’d love a glimpse of your garden book collection. It’s also my favorite thing to do on a rainy (or snowy) day.

    1. Hello Christine, I promise to include book images on my next “wisdom” post! xB

  3. Thanks so much for the quotes. They are so important and eternal for we who live for gardens.

    1. Yes, they truly not only inform us but support our choices and challenges in this wonderful world of gardening that we choose to be a part of. xB

    1. Kirsten, how wonderful to hear from you…and with such kind words.
      Yes, may summer also bring you eternal smiles! xB

    1. And more to come in another post since so many have found this one inspiring…xB

  4. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous photos of the most exquisite gardens! It must take you many many hours to put together such wonderful posts, dear Bettie!
    My favorite of the suggestions was from Rosemary Verey, Bunny Williams, Percy Kane and Oscar de la Renta.
    Gardens are such beauty. How lucky we are to see them, know them, and be in them.

    1. Yes, it does take many hours, but it gives me such pleasure and satisfaction to share with appreciative, fellow gardeners. Thank you for following along with Private Newport! xB

  5. What a treat to virtually visit these lovely gardens and read these thoughtful quotes. Thank you Bettie for the wonderful distraction from the busyness of the day! Could you possibly share the name of the artist who created the interesting tall metal sculptures in the photo between #’s 7 and 8? I love the repetition, contrast and shape they add to the landscape. Have a wonderful week end! XO S

    1. Sandy, thanks ever so much for your kind words. The sculptor you were asking about is a Brit, Simon Allison, and it was created for a millennium celebration for Kiftsgate Court garden in the Cotswolds. Happy summer, xB

    1. My pleasure, dear Frances..and I just visited a garden that I can’t wait to share with you when you come this way…Happy Summer, xB

  6. What a beautiful post – I feel like I’ve been on a really lovely vacation after reading it! Thank you for your unerring eye 👁.

    1. Patricia, so happy this gave you a bit of armchair traveling! To say I cannot wait for my return trip this fall is an understatement. Stay tuned for more English images…xB

  7. Bettie…After several hours of “reading” emails I came across your Garden Wisdom post from June 3 and had my eyes blessed (as ALWAYS) with another extravagant display of color, design, form, architecture in your blog ! Thank You for coming up with your plan to share other gardens and garden wisdom from other pros ! You own more garden books than anyone I know and in this piece you have brought them home to us. What a delight !

    1. So happy this blog inspired you! There is a lot of great wisdom out there in the gardening world and it please me to be able to collect and share it with my Private Newport family. xB

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