Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Inspiring Garden Design: Revealing Lessons in the Snow

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These past three weeks have been a flurry (excuse the pun) of one snowfall after another, each seemingly more beautiful than the last. This is why I love being in Newport for the first two months of winter — the dreamy appearance of my garden and the design truths spoken through bare limbs and branches. Adding a dusting of snow then becomes the proverbial frosting on the cake.

Nothing illustrates this more fittingly than the feature image above…the four perfectly matched, pruned cherry standards, ‘Hally Jolivette,’ that front the Orangerie (it’s a scene that is equally seductive in early spring when their soft pink blossoms are the first blooms of the year).

These four “star”s present stunning views from every angle…whether it be the kitchen window…

or the sunroom’s sweeping bay…

or in the garden looking northward towards the pergola.

But there’s another truth to be enjoyed here…the importance of evergreens in carrying out the design intent of a garden throughout all seasons. This is particularly true in a formal garden like Parterre. Boxwood, berberis, holly, and euonymous perfectly define the four parterres under the cherries, their geometry and proportions literally popping when outlined in white powder.

The virtue of evergreens is further delineated in the hedging used throughout the grounds. Along the front of the house, the long, sculpted yew hedge (with a majestic curtain of trees to preserve the garden’s intimacy)) extends from the house to the dovecote in the corner of the Fountain Garden.

The same yew hedge that also provides a picture-perfect frame for the formal garden gates.

And in that Fountain Garden, evergreen cotoneaster, Korean boxwood, and yew pillars become another resting place for snow to add its beauty.

Having begun this post with one of my favorite topics, trees, I’ll close with a singular addition to the Parterre landscape, the Sophora japonica ‘Pendula’ (Chinese scholar tree), or as I lovingly refer to her, “Sophie.” When this rare specimen was finally located, there was no doubt as to where it would be placed — in a prominent location at the entrance to the front courtyard.

P.S. Did I forget to mention that I’ve also found another use for these snowfalls?

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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".

22 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: Revealing Lessons in the Snow

  1. You saved the best for last! Loved the Veuvre! Always enjoy your wonderful blogs. Thanks for coming to Sea Island. Miss our meetings. Victoria Simms

    1. LOve that you share my affection for bubbly! And thanks for reminding me of that glorious trip to Sea Island! Yes, I do so miss our garden meetings….xB

  2. Bettie, these photos are wonderful. What type of trees are the ones along the walkway to the garden house?

    1. Four ‘Hally Jolivette’ standard cherries line the path to the Orangerie and 5 Amaranth are within the yew hedge running from the house to the round dovecote. xB

  3. Beautiful photos!
    I was chatting with someone recently and she said she was a native of Champagne. I asked what her favorite Champagne is, and she said Veuve Cliquot. So you made a good choice.

    1. Thank you, Ellen, truly they are a year ’round pleasure! Be on the lookout for the upcoming blog that will be a selection of Before and After (the snow) images. xB

  4. I know you think it looks like powdered sugar frosting all those cakes and cookies; but it almost looks like an ice cream store full of everything from dipped cones to popsicles. I wanna’ take a lick! Absolutely delicious eye candy.


    1. You are always the clever one, dear Ruthie!! oOve sharing this season with you as you’ve only know it in the summer! xB

  5. When people say they find winter to be the ugly season, I think upon scenes such as the ones you have presented here, and surely believe otherwise! I love how winter allows us to see more of the landscape and how snow defines more perfectly all the rolling hills. Looks like confectioners sugar has been sprinkled upon your gorgeous garden, Bettie. Hugs!

    1. Yes, winter’s bareness makes it possible to truly appreciate the “bones” of a garden (hort speak for read the design).
      This is the way I like my confectioner’s sugar (and no calorites!) xB

  6. Gorgeous post as always, Bette!! Verve Clicquot and all!!
    Cheers!!! Enjoy for me!! MMK

  7. Thank you for sharing such lovely pictures. The snow truly accents the architecture of your gardens. They are magnificent.

    1. Thank you, Tracy. I’ve learned after living in the northeast that snow is not only beautiful but has practical benefits as well…protecting plants from wind and cold as well as providing water!

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