Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


Inspiring Garden Design: An Exquisite English-style Creation

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“The owner’s first mixed border was developed in the pergola garden with the ornamental Bradford pear hedge as a backdrop. Her favorite colors–pink, fuchsia, lavender, and blue–can be seen in veronica, betony, delphinium, and cosmos. Artemisia (A. ludoviciana ‘Silver King’) is peppered throughout.” Given the choices as to which feature image (above) to select for today’s post, I couldn’t resist this one. Especially when coupled with the author, Ben Lenhardt, Jr’s quote from his new book, Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago. What a wealth of horticultural delight is available from this part of our great country.

And what pleased and impressed me the most was the number of houses and gardens that have been lovingly tended by new owners who honored the fine design work that was often created as far back as the early 1900s. A selection among the many in this category is Camp Rosemary (an affectionate name given to the house by the owner whose restoration construction crew were camped out on the lawn for their lunchtime).

What a scrumptious setting! From the thyme garden, straight bent lawn stripes extend to a generous curve of pink roses and an antique urn overflowing with pink geraniums and white geraniums.

One of that era’s noted landscape talents, Rose Standish Nichols, established many of the gardens whose” bones” survive today. Other noted designers over the years have also been asked to contribute to the many garden rooms at Camp Rosemary–including Craig Bergmann, Frank Mariani, Clifford Miller, Deborah Nevins, and Rosemary Verey. But it is the owner, whom Ben has described as a “garden-conductor,” who is truly responsible for shepherding into existence one of the most exquisite English-style gardens in America.

As Ben observed, “her ideas and vision for colors, plant combinations, structure, and whimsical touches are the keys to this jewel.” I’m sure you’ll agree as we stroll through Camp Rosemary.

Modeled after those at Dumbarton Oaks, broad grass steps, create an impressive entrance to the walled garden.

In this walled garden, several varieties of clematis scramble over brick walls that define sweeping borders filled with shrub roses, perennials, and annuals.

A beguiling ivy-clad pool pavilion overlooks the walled garden; the adjacent linden allée (on the right) is to be seen in more detail below.

Randomly placed boxwood-filled terra-cotta pots and bistro chairs, atop fine gravel, create a French atmosphere in the pleached allée.

A combination of blue and lavender perennials and annuals, with white and lavender roses on the outer edges, fills the parterre garden.

But it is the white garden that captured my heart, with it’s intimate alcove surrounded by hydrangeas, bugbane, variegated dogwood, flowering dogwood, and perennials. I truly believe it is worth owning Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago if only to see this space in more detail.

It may come as no surprise that the proceeds from this three-years-in-the- works book go to The Garden Conservancy, of whom Ben Lenhardt, Jr. is the Chairman Emeritus. Can you imagine a lovelier gesture to the world of gardening?


All photos credit, Scott Shigley.

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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".

10 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: An Exquisite English-style Creation

  1. What a fantastic inspiration.

    The classic designs–boxwood in pots–are simply staggering to me.

    Thank you for these gorgeous images.

    1. Aren’t they glorious!? It’s a European “look” that is working its way around the US; I potted up my own version a few years back, but it can’t compare to this vision!!
      Give it a try…xB

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I live in the area and I’m friends with the head gardener of Camp Rosemary. I can truly say that is one of the finest gardens in whole country. The book is very limited in what is shows, there is so much more and the scale of the garden is incredible. When you are at Camp Rosemary, it feels like you have instantly been transported to Europe!

    1. Thank you, Cole, this is such a treat to hear your first hand take on a garden that I have fallen in love with from afar!
      I’m counting the days (years?) until I can visit Camp Rosemary in person. All the best, Bettie

  3. Oh my, this garden is exquisite, and reminds me of your beautiful garden w/ all it’s varied yet cohesive spaces to be enjoyed. I am loving that boxwood garden! A warm summer Williamsburg evening always come to mind when I smell boxwoods; many don’t care for the smell, but I find it romantic. Thank you for sharing yet another gorgeous garden, Bettie!

    1. Bobbi, it is such a pleasure to share! And guess what I just learned…GARDENS OF THE NORTH SHORE is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon for Landscape Architecture and Garden Pictorial.
      How about that?! Enjoy, xB

  4. Oh what beautiful gardens Bettie! My entire city yard could fit into the walled garden, but I’ve already gotten so much inspiration from these beautiful photos! Thank you so much for the book recommendation – I’m going to pop right over and grab it now! Happy Friday!

    1. Barbara, you will be thrilled! And I just learned from the author that GARDENS OF THE NORTH SHORE is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon for Landscape Architecture and Garden Pictorial.
      How about that?! Enjoy, xB

  5. The peacefulness of this white garden steals my heart as well. You convinced me to order this book. I also adore the thyme garden which reminds me of the thyme walk at Highgrove, HRH gardens. If only I had a bit more full sun in my garden , I would be tempted to squeeze in a thyme bed. I enjoy your blog so much, thank you for sharing your love of gardens.

    1. Oh Christine, I, too, have been tempted to copy this thyme garden! And have you also been to Highgrove? Wasn’t it breathtaking in its breadth and diversity!
      And I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon for Landscape Architecture and Garden Pictorial.
      What an endorsement! Enjoy, and thank you for your welcome comment. xB

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