Design & Décor, Entertaining, Living with Style


Romancing our Summer Garden

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The Orangerie in Parterre’s garden was a most special surprise Christmas gift in 1997, given to me by my husband, Jonathan, as we began our house building project.

While originally intended as a greenhouse (the glass roof opens), we early on made the decision to treat it as a centerpiece with summer entertaining in mind. And as summer 2019 winds down, we anticipated a small birthday dinner for a dear friend. Of course we held our breaths regarding the weather. Beastly humidity plagued us for weeks, including a few bouts of rain, but last Saturday night was crisp with a lovely breeze. Serendipity prevailed…out came the balloons!

Photo Credit: Styled by Jenna

Having just returned from touring luscious gardens in Maine, moss, ferns and lichen were on my mind…which just happened to be the pattern in a new tablecloth I’d been longing to use.

But what truly engaged me was romancing the details in the garden with candlelight…from pebble paths edged in cobblestones…

to a chandelier of multiple votives.

That chandelier (actually two tall wall sconces wired together) was dressed in ferns and greenery that repeated the woodland tableau centerpiece below.

Lanterns also took up their posts (excuse the pun).

As dusk turned to night, we proceeded down the terrace steps, turned right, and headed along the path to the orangerie.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Courchesne

The menu began with yummy summer tomatoes to kick off an evening of conviviality, conversation and shared common interests, sprinkled with laughter and wit. In what seemed like no time, we were bumping up against midnight…

“A good night was had by all.”


All images credit, unless otherwise noted, Michelle Pugliese for Private Newport.

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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".

20 thoughts on “Romancing our Summer Garden

  1. The candlelit garden, greenery dressed chandelier, woodland centerpiece….down to the real leaves as placemats, this is a midsummer night’s dream! All that’s missing are the fairies, just magical.

    1. Thank you for your appreciation and I’m so happy to “meet” another member of my Private Newport family! xB

    1. Such a lovely note, thank you! If there is a topic you might like to see covered, do let me know. cheers, Bettie

    1. Well actually, at the last minute she was ill and couldn’t be with us…but of course insisted that we “party on.”

    1. Dear Dr. Zahn, I’m sorry you missed the soiree’, too, but that’s why I captured it on my post.
      Happy to “meet” you, cheers, Bettie

  2. Can you share the lights used on the plants? The garden is beautiful and my birthday is coming up so you could repeat the evening!😉

  3. Refreshing and lovely, Bettie. I do so love your use of natural materials to decorate. You have an instinctive gift of bringing the outside in.

    1. Thank you for that observation, Lauren, I’m nothing if not a gardener/flower arranger.
      Hope your summer has gone along swimmingly! xB

  4. Just “inhaling” the surrounding would have been enough “food” for me for the entire week! I cannot imagine having a friend or who would do so much for me! How fortunate that person is to know you care so much!

    1. Thank you for that descriptive narrative; it was as much a joy to prep for this party as it was to enjoy the results! xB

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