Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


Inspiring Garden Design: Before and After the Snow

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It’s March, the sun is promising to shine for a whole week and all thoughts are turning to spring. This seems just the moment to venture into this new season coming off two months of beautiful snow, whose images will help remind us of two garden truths…firstly, each season adds its grace and benefits to a garden’s yearly cycle. In the case of snow, this soft white powder protects the plants from winter’s harsh temperatures and burning winds while providing water for dormant plants. And secondly, and indisputably, spring follows winter.

So the “after” image refers to what we have to look forward to; the “before” image helps us keep things in perspective. For me, I especially love juxtaposing different spots around our grounds in the two seasons. Always a reminder that every view has its merits. And sometimes I have trouble deciding which view I prefer…

My favorite of the moment? The back courtyard which I haven’t included before in a snow shot. This northern angle of the house reminds me of a romantic little French village, with its different roof lines and window sizes and shapes.

Dramatic four matched, cherry standards fronting the Orangerie are probably the most photographed part of the garden year ’round. How fortunate that their branching system is such that the snow can collect in the winter and carry out a white version of their soft pink spring blooms.

The four planted parterres under the cherries are a testimony to the benefit of giving serious thought to evergreens in a garden plan. Boxwood, berberis, holly, and euonymous keep the geometry of these four beds distinct throughout the year!

Tulips, the first bulbs to bloom in the spring, grace the 4 stone planters nestled into the Fountain Garden’s boxwood hedge (three sets of these favorites are potted up to give us a long month of blooms).

A second floor overview provides a good look at three gardens…the Fountain Garden which leads into the Green and White Garden behind the Orangerie and the Woodland Garden just over the yew hedge.

Formal garden gates, which open from the front lawn, are given a touch of whimsy with a pair of grenouilles on the limestone pillars (the snow shot shows off the pruned yew hedging butting up to the pillars).

In the wee hours of an April morning, the pink light of dawn accentuates the already shell pink blossoms of the four ‘Hally Jolivette’ cherries.

Versailles boxes, made of wood, are plastic-covered in the winter to protect them but still permit their shape to enchant as companions to the Dovecote in the Fountain Garden’s corner.

Not spring but fall, a rare capture with the camera that I was lucky enough to catch as I drove up the driveway. Timing and light are everything, as is winter’s snow!!

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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".

12 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: Before and After the Snow

    1. Wonderful to hear from you, Romayne! It was 22 years ago that we put in the gardens…you were there at its beginnings, providing inspiration
      as we worked on the Flower Show, etc. Happy memories! All my best to you and John, Bettie

  1. Sigh. Magical-just magical. Your pictures are just beautiful no matter the season-what a paradise. And on top of all of that, I always learn from your commentary and pictures.

    1. Sigh back…thank you, Barbara, for your kind thoughts. We were so blessed to have 3 beautiful snows that provided the bones of 2-3 posts!
      Happy Spring, xB

    1. And what a refuge they provide, which I’m especially aware of as we enter Spring, the season of re-birth.

  2. Absolutely dreamy! A most romantic house and garden! Bettie, you have such a wonderful perspective and aesthetic. Thank you for starting my day with such beauty ~

    1. Such flattering words…thank you, Tracy. Where would we be without gardens, especially as we enter spring, the time of re-birth. xB

  3. I’ve been sitting here studying your garden. It is so charming, romantic and beautiful. I love everything from your cherry trees to your snow covered gate to your “French village.” I’ve learned that I need to plant many more boxwood in my garden! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Ellen, sharing my garden and inspiring others has been such a bright spot in this Covid year, thank you for your kind words.
      When purchasing boxwood, make sure they are a variety immune to the Boxwood Blight. As an alternative, I’ve found hollies work very well…and then of course there’s berberis and euonymous (as shown under the cherries). Happy Spring, xB

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