Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden, The Parterre Bench

Invitation to a Fantasy Engagement Party

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I’m all for fanciful and fantasy moments, especially when they are in the garden and occasioned by a specific plant in bloom. And can then serve as inspiration for an entertaining concept. So it is with ‘clematis peniculata’ — or more romantically referred to as “bridal veil.” As this particular plant will often do, it self-seeds wherever it chooses (see last year’s post). Many years ago, this clematis sneaked into a corner of the limestone steps leading up to the pergola. At first, I wanted to take it out as it didn’t suit the clipped, formal ilex hedge fronting the pergola. But the clematis taught me a lesson…some things are best left to their own devices.

So to honor this beautiful month of September — and our town, which is such a wedding destination — I’ve created a tableau to take full advantage of this glorious Autumn plant that has been awaiting its star turn. It was such delicious fun imagining a small engagement party, with the table swathed in volumes of white tulle, while the clematis served as a stand-in for the bride’s future veil and train. A girl can dream, can’t she?

The tulle added a special enchanting note for that first impression…

Spring green, to complement the Parterre Bench, inspired the table top selections from my china closet…limited edition Tiffany dessert plates that were a wedding gift many years ago, antique Venetian sherbert bowls, playful glass plates with “pearls” around their rims. For nostalgia, embroidered-in-Madeira linens that were part of my “trousseau.”

Let there be no doubt that clematis paniculata well deserves the nickname “bridal veil.”
What a source of inspiration!

Of course, the veil’s tiara had to be composed of plants –petit roses, heuchera and coleus leaves, snips of hydrangea blooms , garlic chives, tips of salvia, and verbena.

And the Parterre Bench…always a guest at every event and celebration here at Parterre. Consider inviting her into your garden. She’s quite the centerpiece!

Lastly, a little party crasher who was intrigued with the goings on (I can’t believe that I’m giving  her/him a shout out…the mother has been beseiging our garden all summer). But, anything for the blog…

Let the wedding festivities begin!

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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".

15 thoughts on “Invitation to a Fantasy Engagement Party

    1. You may have some “Bridal Veil” at Merrilton and not even know it. I’m sure you could slip some in, if not…

  1. Oh, Bettie,

    Your fairytale wedding tableau is fit for Rapunzel!
    That divine clematis cascading from the Parterre Bench is magical and breathtaking. Your napkins from your trousseau are so elegant and dear.
    Wish I were dining with the “bride and groom.”

    1. Did this not remind you of our flower show escapade all those years back!!? Thank you again, dear friend.
      And while you may not be dining with the bride and groom, at the least you’ll be dining with the set designer. Can’t wait! xB

    1. Hello Suellen, and happy fall. What a treat it would be to see Autumn clematis in your setting!

  2. As usual, your whimsy & fantasy never disappoint! I have a new outlook when I walk on Clematis Street here in sunny Florida…loved how you pulled the bunny out of the hat for the photo..Keep feeding its mother… Clicquot must love to watch the activity!

    1. Of course, Palm Beach would have a street named Clematis…and yes, Clicquot sits at the window, at night mostly, watching the animal activity (I’d prefer not to know what’s out there…) xB

  3. awww love the bunny! We’ve had them around this year as well. Just happy the coyotes aren’t doing them in.

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