Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


Parterre’s Floral Headliners

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Recently, I was scrolling through the 30,000+ images on my phone, and actually caught myself gasping at pictures that I had seen over and over and taken for granted. How quickly our “lens” can change after Covid, providing inspiration for today’s post. I’m referring to these as “Floral Headliners,” the vision that makes me think “Wow” when I turn the corner in the garden on an early morning outing, or look out the window as the setting sun is casting its glow on a specific plant. What makes them so special is, try as hard as I might, I may not be able to replicate this vision again.

Like most of us, over this past year I’ve experienced an awakening about some things and come to accept them gracefully (I hope). One great truth is that I am merely a collaborator with this heavenly matriarch known as Mother Nature. If living and gardening here at Parterre for 22 years has taught me anything it is that a garden does not remain frozen in time. Our green paradise is ever-shifting and changing, no matter how doted on and cared for, how meticulously planned and planted. Prompting a bit of wisdom that applies to so many situations where a garden shows its relevance…let the cares that consume us melt into the beauty that surrounds us.

The ever faithful, always reblooming ‘Princess Diana’ clematis on the Cutting Garden lattice, frolicking with her fellow roses.

So yummy, gracing the double doors into the Orangerie, clematis ‘Piili.’ It has taken us many years to identify a plant (gloriosa lilies was one sad failure) that is happy in this north-facing shaded spot.

On our original plant list, 22 years ago, for Parterre…a rarely-seen allium, ‘Allium nectaroscordum siculum’ (Mediterranean bells) that exhibits its fickleness on a regular basis so I am always grateful when she chooses to behave.

Never fickle! And one of the best garden design ideas I’ve had at Parterre…an 85′ rose chain of David Austin’s ‘Crown Princess Margaretha.’ When she’s good, she’s very, very good!

Speaking of David Austin, their horticulturist in Texas could not believe this picture…rich, merlot-red ‘Falstaff’ rose blooming away in an area that only receives half day sun (I’ve learned that training them horizontally makes for many more blooms).

We usually alternate the plantings annually in the 8 pots lining this path in the Green and White Garden, but I think this is my favorite combo… hydrangea is such a “Newport signature.”

Like all beautiful blooming plants, their glory only lasts about 2 weeks (but one of the pluses of a cool spring is that we may get 3 weeks of bloom time). A rare Chinese weeping lilac that I purchased about 18 years ago at the Boston Flower Show; I’ve never seen one since…

Not too difficult to understand why this image made the list…pairing spring’s first (pink) tulips with our signature green Parterre Bench nestled into its euonymous hedge with its whimsical companion, the Fountain Garden dovecote.

Love them to death, but digitalis aren’t very reliable in our damp-ish gardens. All the more reason that I was thrilled to find this “once upon a time” shot.

Another entry on the original Parterre plant list that seems to come and go at will, clematis ‘Niobe.’

We’re all about trying something new each year…in the Fountain Garden hedge, we have tested any number of coleus varieties and have fingers crossed that this ‘ Sonoma Sunset’ will stand the test of time. And depending on the summer temps, “she” can explode into a mound that takes your breath away. (Update…this year we are using ‘Inferno’ as we couldn’t locate ‘Sonoma’).

And lastly, one for the garden’s history book… a delicious row of 8 chartreuse-leafed caryopteris with that shocking blue shade only caryopteris can pull off. But as a “woody plant,” their years are numbered in our growing zone and all 8 disappeared one winter.

Adding a bit of levity here, “Catch me while you can,” should probably be the reality that every gardener should anticipate at one time or another.

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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".

10 thoughts on “Parterre’s Floral Headliners

  1. Bettie, absolutely gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing the private beauty of your gardens. Especially appreciated by this “city girl”! Ellen Easton

  2. Once again Bettie you have brightened up my day! Beautiful photographs of such special memories …
    Thank you for bringing the beauty of the always unpredictable mother nature into my life. You are one amazing woman!
    Can’t wait for our Decorative Arts Society here in Newport Beach to return in full bloom. It can only be made more exciting if you agree to return as a guest speaker.
    Many thank you’s for your delightful blog. It has kept a spring in my step during the long winter months of the pandemic.
    Fondly ~ Susan Tancredi

    1. Thank you, dear Susan, how I would love to see you all again!!!! Summer will bring us a new lease on life…xB

    1. My pleasure, Sandy, and thank you for being part of my Private Newport family!! Have a cool summer, xB

  3. Every single thing you have planted is pretty! The garden is lucky to have you. Not many people spend that kind of time and love on creating such an amazing space, and keeping it nurtured throughout the decades:)

  4. Clematis ‘Niobe’ looks quite comfortable where it is! Thank you for the reminder to take garden photos.

    1. Thanks for your note, she is comfortable but a bit fickle. And, we can never take enough pictures!!! xB

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