In the Garden

My Summer Flower Garden

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My gardens were designed with flower arranging in mind. Each plant, flower, bush (and yes, even some trees) were planted because they would enhance the mixed garden bouquets that I love to create – as well as contribute interest to my flower show entries.

Flower Arranging

In the summer, the cutting garden comes to life.  Perennials, favorites that come back year after year, mix happily with annuals that are chosen in February from the countless catalogs I receive. What a satisfying way to help chase away the winter blahs. But I always keep one focus in mind. Every plant at Parterre must pass the litmus test – “would it enhance a flower arrangement.” Even flowers from landscaped areas in other parts of the property are called upon to make their contributions.

Cutting Garden

In June, the long-awaited peonies make their entrance; so delectable that I cannot resist adding 1 or 2 new selects a year. Too soon, space considerations will no longer make that possible (a gardener’s lament.)


But the real season for the cutting garden starts early July, just as the roses are beginning their mid-summer decline.


Enhanced by the annuals that contribute their full-on blooms up to frost, this “secret garden” (bounded on one side by an espaliered pear “fence”) is the first place I go to in the morning and the last place I visit at dusk, when the cutting garden is sheltered by the house from the setting sun. Clippers in hand, a peace comes over me that only a garden can elicit and then I head to the mud room to start creating those arrangements that are at the heart of my garden experience.


Newport is a growing horticultural zone 6B. If a plant is not winter hardy here, I’ve noted it as an annual.

Clematis ‘Durandii’, a blue ribbon winner at the Newport Flower Show.

Clematis 'Durandii'

Beloved for its frothy chartreuse stems, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is tres chic when massed together in a large container.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

A yummy shade of pinky-coral, Dahlia ‘Belle of Barmera’ is my go-to favorite this summer (more on these beauties in a future post.) (annual)

Dahlia 'Belle of Barmera'

The flowers of the elegant Astrantia major ‘Sunningdale Variegated’ are a welcome addition when creating a bouquet.

Astrantia major 'Sunningdale Variegated'

This hard-to-find jewel smells exactly like chocolate! Cosmos ‘Chocomocha’. (annual)

Cosmos 'Chocomocha'

I dare you to spell it…or get it “trippingly off your tongue”… Verbena bonariensis. (annual)

Verbena bonariensis

Though it’s not a great cut flower (as it only lasts one and a half days,) Iris ensata ‘Variegata’ makes such a wonderful punctuation in my Black and White garden, I couldn’t resist.

Iris ensata 'Variegata'

A real addition to any garden, the singular blooms of Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ provide necessary contrast to the Black and White garden’s design.

Astilbe 'Deutschland'

So romantic! Nothing quite takes the place of or has such a tantalizing aroma as sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus ‘cerise.’) (annual)

Lathyrus odoratus 'cerise'

A new addition, dramatic for its 7’ height, Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta,’ promises to become a “regular” in my arrangements.

Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta,’

Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is a classic English garden staple known for its reliability.

Phlox paniculata ‘David’

Hydrangeas are a Newport signature to be found in every garden as well as enhancing many landscapes: ‘Endless Summer.’


A little resting spot in the cutting garden that nestles amongst the flowers (here, verbena bonariensis.)

verbena bonairensis

What are your favorite flowers to cut for arrangements?

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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".

6 thoughts on “My Summer Flower Garden

  1. I love the beauty of all your flowers shown in your magnificent blog. Flowers bring joy and smiles to all. I am inclined to especially enjoy tall multi level white orchids in a 16 inch white compote and for dinner parties, floating large white gardenias in a large low to table, Waterford Crystal Bowl with smaller crystal bowls floating the smaller gardenias interspersed with white floating vigil candles

    All folks can chat around the table without craning their necks Xxxx

    1. Mary, you are such a loyal follower. I’ll think of you when I do my next blog…tomorrow. Stay cool, wherever you are.

  2. As a Master Gardener and member of a GCA garden club, I too love love the Clematis ‘Durandi’. Another favorite is: ‘Venosa Violacea’ take a look in the indispensable A To Z by Judith Zuk.
    An old time gardener friend of mine, Vera Lawrence taught me this poem about the clematis.
    “Because it grows on a lattice
    Some folks say Clem-AT-tis
    But Webster would surely hiss
    Unless you say CLEM-a-tis”
    Isn’t that fun?
    I work in a garden nestled in a county park and also there is a beautiful old mansion, and the terrace behind it is one place I enjoy letting Verbena Bonairiensis have it’s way. When its wispy airiness fills every corner, it just makes me feel as if I am in an English garden! ( I have been on three English garden tours over the inspirational..)

  3. Bettie…….LOVED this cornucopia from your garden….one should keep this blog post handy all through winter to brighten our spirits….my favorite was the inspiring 7′ “Venusta”……Bravo !

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