Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Inspiring Garden Design: Garden Rooms

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Today, the second day of spring, is the finale to my “Inspiring Garden Design” series. One can’t forget that the garden we bring indoors in the winter is deserving of consideration also. There are many names for this welcome space — solarium, garden room, sun porch, conservatory — but I think we’re all in agreement that somehow, we find a way to make plants feel “at home” in the colder months, and bring in more sunlight for ourselves, too.

At Parterre, our intimate glassed in, stone floor “porch” opens right off the southern-facing sunroom. Long French doors make the statement that this space was part of the original planning when we built our home eighteen years ago. We view our “porch” as the best of both worlds — it serves as a quasi greenhouse (but tidy and neat) and also an easily accessible extra room that’s light and bright.

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A slightly sloped blue stone floor with a center drain makes watering easy and yet doesn’t interrupt the semblance of a decorated space. Whimsical, wonky plants are in equally characterized containers.


A cotton quilt over a round corner table softens the stone and stucco surrounds, while the alabaster lamp provides a humorous taste of Gilded Age excess.


I’ve been a fan of Bunny Mellon for years (even before I became serious about gardening and garden design) and was thrilled to be able to purchase two of her Oak Spring books when they first were published in 1990.


But there was another special reason for wanting this specific room as part of the original house plan…providing the proper setting for a pair of elegant bronze grates acquired from a home in Wilmington, Delaware when we had lived there as young marrieds.

The garden room is intentionally not too large, but offers refuge to some treasured plants, like the bountiful “mother fern” fronting one of the grates. Come summer, the pair will grace the shady Black and White Garden.



To pick up on the formal note of the bronze grates, two round niches over each outside door contain a bust on a wooden plinth.


Last but certainly not least, in its own cozy corner a two year old “flapjack” succulent blooms enthusiastically, trying to gain its share of attention.


Wishing you many sunny days this spring!


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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".

14 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: Garden Rooms

    1. Dear Bettie,
      I know John’s Island was thrilled to have you and your wonderful program last week.
      I just realized that I have been lucky enough to spend time in your beautiful home and gardens over the past 18 years. You were very thoughtful to have the Highlands group visit your gardens last summer, a very special treat for all. I continue to enjoy you on line and always learning something new from you.
      Much love,

      1. Dear one, I couldn’t help but think of you when I was back in Florida at about the same time this year as last. Thank you for helping make that happen.
        Every time you receive the blog, think of me thinking of you. Hope I get to see you soon; I saw many mutual friends today at the Judge’s workshop which gave me yet another reason to think of you. Lovely…

  1. I just posted a note to Neale.
    She had sent me pictures of her beautiful family, precious grand children.
    I love seeing you in all your beautiful settings!! I look forward to your messages.
    Come see me in Madison, Georgia!!


    1. Good to talk to you the other day; thanks for your suggestions. See you soon, Bettie

  2. Impecable taste & planning…those lucky plants! ( Looks like Clicquot “leaves” them
    alone🙀) xx

    1. Thanks…but no, Clicquot does NOT leave them alone so she doesn’t get to go out there very often…xox

    1. Thank you for your interest, we shall add your name tomorrow. Best, Bettie

    2. Hi — unfortunately we are unable to add you to our mailing list.The message on our end reads, “ has bounced, and cannot be resubscribed.” Therefore, you will have to re-add yourself by going to this link Let us know if you if you need further assistance.

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