Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden


Parterre’s Madcap Cutting Garden

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As summer 2020 ends (Yikes! it’s already September 3), I find myself bemused and a bit befuddled by the bounty of the Cutting Garden. For as orderly and manicured as the rest of the property is, the “outlier” on these three acres, the Cutting Garden, is a disorderly collection of overly enthusiastic Japanese anemone, burgeoning last minute pots of tomatoes, rambling vines, and too-happy-for-their-own-good salvias. Excuse me if I sound a bit irreverent at times, but I really feel like letting my hair down. I forget when planting all these dears way back in the spring that by the end of August they will almost have outgrown their beds. It must have been all the spring rain and then a full month of blistering heat .

The dahlias are the only group behaving themselves; of course that’s because we put up their Parterre green stakes in May, lined up like little soldiers, always hoping that we can coax them into blooming “early” (which means June…never works out). The chartreuse feverfew edging the pair of parterres in this earlier summer picture has by now been consumed.

It is only the formal plinth and urn, filled with my zany Egyptian onions, that present any sea of calm as late summer growth gambols along.

Take for example the Japanese anemone. It amazes me that something so feminine and delicate can be such a thug! This late bloomer has graceful, tall stems with an exquisite soft pink flower. Invariably, she outgrows her space each year…and we take her out…and then she reappears the following year.

But the bees love her!

These “ultimate enablers,”as I call these busy buzzers, may be the reason some plants pop up randomly among other established selections…as in Dahlia ‘Jane Cowl’ and her sidekick, verbena bonariensis.

Or Rose ‘Julia Child,’ and my favorite blue salvia, ‘Singing the Blues’ (also a very important pollinator) getting overly cozy in their little bed.

Roses even find a way to mix and mingle among the twining clematis ‘Princess Diana,'(which in this case of overgrowing couldn’t make me happier). Speaking of roses, they have been stars all summer long (though some are looking a bit tired by all the heat).

Would I be stating the obvious by saying that I adore my roses and am so grateful for the blooms they provide for arrangements in the house, my fave pastime?

On a final note, the makeshift lattice we put up as a trial along the west side of the Cutting Garden has proven its worth. This fall it will be replaced with an elegant, tall design that will assure support for the height of so many plants at this time of the year.

Aaah, Mother Nature, bless her heart. She has kept me so entertained throughout this “summer of Covid.”

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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".

25 thoughts on “Parterre’s Madcap Cutting Garden

  1. Bettie, So glad to see I’m not the only one in town with a garden gone rouge! The Hakone grass I planted to outline my front walk ways has taken over and I can’t even find the path to the side yard. It badly needs a haircut. My Japanese anemone are also out of control! Reaching for the sky like Jack’s Beanstalk. I guess we are being entertained by God this summer since we can’t entertain each other….

  2. Oh my, your garden is so beautiful. I’ve mostly been a Spring-early Summer gardener, but after seeing your Late Summer garden, I see that I’m going to have expand my garden! I love the contrast between your formal gardens and this more English garden style. Both are just stunning. I love your roses! So pretty.

    1. What a lovely compliment, Ellen. Thank you for your kind words. You’ll love the next blog, coming up this Thursday the 17th. xB

  3. Dear Bettie,
    I just love how an overgrown garden looks, and yours is beautiful in all it’s wild abandon! It makes me feel that at least something is free to be what it is meant to be, in this crazy time in our history!! We garden lovers are the luckiest to be outsidewith living, thriving loveliness, when there are so many that are confined to being indoors for most of their day!! I am so happy for you! Enjoy every minute with the rest of the season!
    Your Newport native, California friend,
    Jeannette 🌺

    1. I love that comment, Jeannette…”that at least something is free to what it is meant to be…” in Covid-19.
      We all need beauty and escape, if only in images. So glad you are a follower, it gives me comfort…xB

  4. Bettie,
    Loved the photographs of your madcap-cutting garden. Such a delightful variety of colorful plants. Your roses are gorgeous. Thank you for brightening this day.

    1. Oh Sue, how wonderful to hear from you!! Hope all’s well…and thrilled to know that you’re still following my blog. Much appreciated!!! xB

  5. Looks pretty wonderful to me! Better than having the ones that just don’t do much! I guess I’ve always liked a bit of “ slightly disobeying the rules!” Enjoy the bounty! And gorgeous colors!

  6. I just found this delightful website while hunting for companion planting ideas for an Emerald Green arborvitae- signed up for the email list and I look forward to a little visual feast escape while I plot and plan my own garden’s resurrection next year- Wonderful!!

    1. Wait until you see this week’s blog…speaking of “a closing act to an unusual growing season”.
      I may borrow your prose, Stay well! B

    1. Structure and abundance, that’s a great description for my version of “madcap.” Join me for another stroll this Thursday the 17th. xB

  7. Oh Bettie, it’s absolutely GORGEOUS!! You’ve given me some new plant names to try and find next year. Your pictures took my breath away! Thank you for sharing your beautiful world with us regularly.

    1. Thank you, Cindy, I always hope that there is something to add to my followers’ garden repertoire! Stay tuned, xB

    1. Its is truly swoonable, Frances!! My favorite (and it’s hard to find….)
      I’ll DM you re. the “swap.” xo B

  8. What exuberance, Bettie !! Love the gorgeous peach color in your Jane Cowl dahlia about as much as I enjoy your photography and the crystal clear images. Isn’t it fun that your garden could care less about Covid-19 🙂

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