It’s almost in my backyard and the Newport “cottage” for which I have the most affection – The Elms, built in 1901 and a copy of the French Chateau d’Asnieres (circa 1750), an inspiration (more figuratively than literally) for me when building Parterre. This is what I see every night when I drive home — as the gas street lamps go on.
The scene is completed by lace-like wrought iron gates that punctuate the north and south entrance drives.
Missing Iris, I was regretting that our tight schedule hadn’t permitted some time in the gardens, an exquisite and important piece of the magical Elms story. So I took myself over early one evening when the setting sun was casting a soft roseate glow on the incredible limestone buildings and clouds were scuttling across the sky. It all seemed otherworldly and mystical and gloriously romantic, affording me an opportunity to capture just this seldom-seen experience as I’d longed to do.
I was reminded again that Newport, just for reasons that you shall see here in this park-like setting, has been declared an arboretum for its place in our country’s history of garden design, tree and plant propagation and horticulture. These ten acres in their day contained the finest collection of trees in Newport, a standard that the Preservation Society works diligently to uphold.
The pair of limestone pavilions are probably two of my most-coveted garden follies anywhere; from every angle they inspire an appreciation for classical proportions — a perfect square with angled corners — dressed with urns along the top edge and completed by a gracefully-shaped copper roof with its own discrete balustrade which have turned that wonderful shade of verdigris.
Grand weeping beeches are a backdrop to the two pavilions which are joined with an elaborate balustrade and overlook the sunken garden.
To complete the dramatically long distance between the two pavilions, a clipped beech hedge is interrupted with busts on detailed plinths.
A dramatic marble fountain enhances the impression of a French garden setting while satyrs and bronze turtles add a note of humor to the grand creation.
With a balustrade acting as a frame, the elegant chateau that is the Elms is seen from the promenade, sited on a slight rise that imparts another element of grace.
As I was departing, I stopped to admire the fact that even the corner of the Elms property impresses with its attention to detail — from the mini-balustrade to the pair of finials to the cameo within the square.