Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Parterre in the Snow

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We all know that Newport is gorgeous year ’round. But there is an added magic quality when snow is falling and laying so softly on the landscape, within the curves of majestic wrought iron gates, clothing the brown trees in virginal white powder. What a luscious contrast to flowering vines and the emerald lawns of summer.

And as one who was intimately involved in both the design of our house and the garden at Parterre, there is a soulful satisfaction in how the snow plays up details that otherwise are overlooked the rest of the year — especially in a garden. Winter is the time when you can truly “read” a garden’s design, without full foliage to mask the skeletal structure of a tree (like the 95 year old Japanese maple on the front lawn) or flowering plants and bushes to  obscure well-positioned key features.

Welcome to Parterre in the snow (complete with snowdrops on my camera lens).


The snail scrowls on the dormer are picked out by the snow but otherwise lost in the overall copper work the rest of the year.


Brrrr…I get cold just looking at the little bronze cupid in the niche under the guest room balcony.


The grandfather of all Japanese maples, whose sculptural glory is accentuated by snow-laden branches.


As the blizzard swirled…the “Winter Garden” is called just that because every planting in this space is evergreen, allowing us to enjoy all the topiary shapes which are exaggerated by the hoare frost and snow; I never tire of this view.


Again in the Winter Garden…the trailing “love knot” of cotoneaster is set off by the additional detail of seasonal red berries.


How could I resist? Nature’s best champagne cooler.


The Orangerie , fronted by four standard cherries (Hally Jolivette cultivar) that almost look as though they’re clothed in their early spring white blossoms. Again, the use of evergreen shrubs (euonymous, berberis, holly, box) under the cherries allow us to enjoy the design of the geomeric parterres.


Looking down the path and under the opening in the yew hedge to the woodland garden beyond.


Stay warm!

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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".

13 thoughts on “Parterre in the Snow

  1. Thank you for the snippet of winter beauty. Your garden is stunning anytime of the year, but fun to hear that you planned for the snow falling on it. Since it’s been 85 degrees in Houston lately, I’m lusting for the look and feel of winter. Probably not to be….

    1. Probably not, but then you could come up here and enjoy it from your wonderful roost. We miss you all! xo

  2. Just love the true design of the garden. Nothing wrong with the restful garden of winter. I am looking at all of the seed catalogs thinking of spring. Just love your posts. Beth

    1. So glad you caught this post, Beth. I’ve wanted to do it every year, but just forget…

    1. And you were the one who made that very informed decision…the importance of evergreens in a northern garden; I thank you every winter!
      (And thank you, too, for the heart gift.) xo

  3. Love your posts…..what an eye, and what style! I have friends in Newport who I always love visiting….such a beautiful place to live. Actually, she originally forwarded your site to me. Please keep it going!

    1. Thank you! That’s why I wanted to do this post…few people see Newport at this time of the year.

  4. Bettie, I’m new to your post and what a way to be welcomed! Beautiful, unspoiled snow! Your pictures capture it so well. So glad I discovered your
    web site.

  5. Your posts are always a breath of fresh air in this harsh world of hostilities. A garden of goodness, kindness and beauty that is devoid of politics, gun violence, and pandemics.
    A reminder of a more gracious time.
    Rochelle Ohrstrom

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