Initial Thoughts

Horticultural Delights from Parterre, Part II

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When selecting the images for this first blog a week ago, I was surprised at the number of pictures I had chosen. And then I was reminded…Parterre is a summer rather than a spring garden whose season starts in June, just as the peonies and roses come into bloom. The season lasts for four+ glorious months until mid-October. It soon became apparent that Horticultural Delights from Parterre deserved a Part ll. So here we go…

The Orangerie is the centerpiece of the main gardens (a surprise gift from my husband when we broke ground on the house); it functions both as an entertaining space as well as a potting shed (and an off season home for the Parterre Bench). Its glass roof that opens satisfies both summer guests and wintering-over plants.

Roses twine around the antique leaded-glass windows, capturing an image that I had long envisioned… ‘Eden (or ‘Pierre de Ronsard’) at the east-facing side.

and ‘Falstaff’ at the west- facing window.

Behind this serviceable folly is the Green and White Garden, the first of my must-haves as we were in the design planning stages. With its vast plant list this garden always proves enlightening and inspirational, a study in all shades of green, leaf size and shape, and texture. The magic is in the juxtaposition and placement, where one plant compliments or plays off another. While white flowers predominate, I’ve been sneaking in some shades of purple…amethyst, mauve, lilac, lavendar…inspired by my many trips to English gardens. With Newport’s foggy mists and the house’s cafe au lait stucco shade this subtle color scheme will be right at home.

The yew hedge backing the Green and White Garden has a “secret” pass through entrance to the Woodland Garden (which will be the subject for another blog).

Little details and small vignettes are positioned “just so” as to catch the visitors eye while they stroll.

Under the pergola, which faces the Orangerie, is a vignette of pots on a glass-topped table under a stone plaque; I affectionately refer to it as my “ode to Bunny Mellon.”

The Fountain Garden (formal entrance to the gardens) presents a cooling all-green scheme, thanks to a plant list that is all about evergreens…Taxus, Buxus sempervirens, eunoymus, Korean box, and cotoneaster…making for a captivating scene in the winter. Even the Parterre Bench and six wooden Versailles boxes are painted in the custom-mixed “Parterre Green.”

Cotoneaster was the perfect choice for this “love knot” created years ago to adorn the library wall. While she has been known to have some temperamental moments (and refuse to bloom on one side or the other) we still love her.

And for those coming and going on the driveway, a surprise awaits…appearing in late June (when no other trees are blooming), Halesia (Carolina Silverbell) is a small understory tree with delicate white bell-shaped flowers that droop gracefully along the undersides of twiggy branches. The winged flowers drop in multitudes, creating the most romantic scene.

Stay cool, and don’t forget to smell the flowers

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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".

8 thoughts on “Horticultural Delights from Parterre, Part II

  1. What a delight, every nook and cranny. The plant choices and color combinations are truly artful – the greens! I’m saving this one… Thank you Bettie. I do hope to see it in person one day! xox

  2. Paradise. You are a keeper of beauty extraordinaire. Thank you for sharing your private Eden with all.

  3. Your Orangerie is perhaps my favorite part of your glorious garden. With all the rain we’ve had everything looks especially robust and abundant. And your Cotoneaster is a miracle of careful cultivation that only you could achieve! You never cease to delight. xo

  4. All those layers of green interspersed with surprise elements of some of my favorite flowers just bring such pleasure to your slice of paradise. I don’t know which I envy more, your garden or your weather! Again, thank you for sharing your planning and vision.

  5. What a “breath of fresh air”…it is SO hot, humid and “Canadian Haze” is really being…a hazard here in Central Virginia. Thank you for the respite…franki



  7. Dear Bettie; Today I went back to your garden rooms full of cool secrets as we seek a North Carolina rainfall for some cooling relief, and as a friendly vine, I am holding on to your photos like dreams, and for my friends in D.C. may see in their dreams the trees that have fallen, but never to be forgotten.
    In His grip, Bonny

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