Design, In the Garden, The Newport Diary


Autumn in Newport: A French Setting

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It was the perfect pairing for a Saturday in early Autumn — lunch with friends, to include a croque forestiere (loaded with wood mushrooms) and a stop by my favorite garden in Newport, The Elms.

The timing could not have been more perfect! Fall colors were revealing themselves and the sky was a vivid blue, accentuating the classic proportions of both the grounds and architecture of Newport’s eighteenth century-inspired French chateau.

Attention to details, as in immaculate pruning of the hedges, add to the character and importance of this rich landscape heritage.

As I walked, I was reminded that The Elms is considered one of the finest Beaux Arts landscapes in America. But to me, quite simply, it is a stroll garden that soothes the soul. With a balustrade acting as a frame, the promenade is sited on a slight rise that imparts another element of grace to the overall scheme.

In keeping with the architectural style of the house, the elegant grounds of the Elms include a sunken garden secreted at the back of the ten acres.

Remarkably intact due to the conservation efforts of the Preservation Society of Newport County, it is difficult to believe that this romantic horticultural and architectural treat is nearing 115 years old.

On a personal note: As they say, “timing is everything.” When I returned to the Elms a week after taking these pictures, our rain and ferocious winds (up to 60 mph gusts) had ripped every last leaf from this brilliant maple.

How ephemeral is that which Mother Nature creates…

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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".

11 thoughts on “Autumn in Newport: A French Setting

    1. Oh Cynthia, I agree…but as I said in my last caption, that tree was totally without leaves when I returned the following week…aaah, Mother Nature. xB

    1. These are the most elegant follies I’ve seen in this country! Of course, I’m a bit partial…
      You must come visit some day!

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