Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Spring on the Eastern Shore

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The past four months have been a glorious blur of travel — revisiting favorite sights, chancing upon design inspirations in the most unlikely places, taking a fresh look at things that I had heretofore taken for granted.

And all the while feeling so fortunate to be experiencing spring in all its incarnations up and down the Atlantic seaboard. My last stop for book and lecture presentations was the Eastern Shore, specifically Talbot County, which gave its name to the productive garden club that graciously extended me an invitation to be part of their civic fundraiser (ably chaired by Kim Eckert).

Of course, I made the time to capture some representative, and for me, iconic images of this special part of our country. It does have a wonderful “flavor” all its own! Starting with the delicious view from my guest room window at this waterside estate.

Then on to a garden tour at Harleigh, “a working farm where life is all about the land — preservation and conservation; plants to welcome butterflies, birds and wildlife; gardens and grounds to enable farm-to-table eating and a cutting garden to bring the outdoors in. Historically, the 19th century house overlooking Trippe Creek sits on land patented in 1663.” (quoted from the Talbot County Garden Club’s 2016 GardenTour brochure)

Chip and Sally Akridge have done an elegant job of accenting the already sylvan landscape with handsome wooden structures, whose colors are so “spot on” that I found myself asking for paint names and numbers in one breath and plant identifications in another.

Talk about jaw-dropping gorgeousness! I shall never forget the poolside, Oriental-inspired open-arched pavilion…in highly lacquered Chinese red.

Humor plays a part on the property also; in the woodland, just past the stumpery, artistic license was brought to a dead tree where a peaceable kingdom of animals cavort, hide and nest among the branches.

Too creative not to include…a birdbath at Harleigh made of cement and oyster shells from the Chesapeake Bay.

I finished my three days with a stop in historic Annapolis, seeking out a garden folly that had been posted on Instagram. It fortunately belonged to one of the most elegant eighteenth century brick houses I’ve ever seen — the William Paca house — with its two-acres of meticulously maintained pleasure garden.

…and the tidiest raised vegetable beds!

Now I am home in Newport to await a New England spring, which is still two to three weeks away…making it all the more welcome when it does finally arrive.

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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".

8 thoughts on “Spring on the Eastern Shore

  1. Gorgeous wood features. I would love any of those gates on my property! Spring is here in Midwest but we know that today might be 75 but tomorrow in the 50’s. Roller coaster weather . Now where can I paint something Chinese red…

    1. We are having August dog days in Atlanta, but it is June.
      Any drought we have had is over. Think a Chinese red item has just the snap, whimsy and jolt needed.

  2. This is a repeat of what I already said in the comment section.

    I love reading your blog and seeing the beautiful pictures that accompany your articles. Always make me wish I could see you more often!

    I have a new email address. OLD – NEW – The old one works for now, but I am trying to phase it out.

    Best to Jonathan.

    xoxox Susie

    1. Hi there, so glad to hear from you….and thanks for the update. Headed back this way? I was supposed to be in Big Sur for a garden tour, but it was sadly canceled due to the terrible rain damage; that might be a first for California. Love your Christmas cards!! xo Bettie

  3. I am late commenting on your Eastern Shore visit but can’t resist telling you, Bettie, that my late husband, Ned, is responsible for the Paca Garden and Hammond Harwood House. Ned was Historical and Cultural Administrator for Maryland (at age 23). We took him back in 2019 when his AD was worsening.

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