Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden


The Front Courtyard at Parterre

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As I was strolling through the front landscape’s parklike setting this past weekend, it occurred to me that I’d been focusing my thoughts, and camera, on the blooms in the gardens and the back courtyard. Now, with summer in full swing and friends coming over, it’s time to share the front courtyard (above feature image) with you, my readers.

In many ways, this courtyard is a capsule of the details used throughout the grounds, from the just-so size of the paths and driveway pebbles, to the large, old cobblestones whose “aprons” appear at both the street entrance as well as the front courtyard entry and defining the edge of the circle.

Together with the color of the three-coat stucco, the limestone quoins, and the old slate roof, careful consideration of all these little details comprise the finished look we envisioned when designing Parterre.

A French Normandy-style home would traditionally have a straight driveway from the street to the front door but we are tree lovers. It was the beech closest to the site of the new house which prompted us to ignore the traditional and create a winding driveway with a circular courtyard, thereby saving this beech, which is now centered on an island of moss. And let me not forget the stone bollards, with chains, that follow the curve of the circle…what I refer to affectionately as my “string of pearls.”

I’ve attempted to give you a sense of actually visiting Parterre with sequential images of approaches to, around, and exiting the courtyard. We start with the specimen tree, Sophora japonica ‘Pendula’, which greets you at the juncture of the driveway leading (left) to the back courtyard and (right) to the front courtyard.

Stepping stones lead from the courtyard to the garden gate.

Then continuing to the front door…

Exiting the driveway, you’re afforded views of a small out building with iron rose trellises and a young version of a ‘Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ (on the left) to match the mature one across the lawn (our take on an “heir and a spare”).

After twenty-two years, our new home is all “cozied-in” with clipped hedges, specimen shrubs, and under-canopy trees. It is such a sheer delight to drive up the driveway each day and see this welcoming view–I never tire of pretending I’m a guest in my own home, visiting for the first time.

Happy Mid-Summer!

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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".

16 thoughts on “The Front Courtyard at Parterre

  1. it is enchating, and your thorough and detailed planning has paid off in spades, dear Bettie!
    Enjoy your drive in as the happiest of guests in your own lovely home every day!
    Happy Thursday 🙂

  2. Hi Bettie,
    I was remembering all the days of our backgammon games in your beautiful home. Your heart is just as beautiful as your home!
    I love your very inspiring blog! You have such flair in all you do.
    I hope to see you in Newport in August.
    Warm regards,
    Dee Cushing

    1. Hello Dee, I’m looking forward to seeing you when you’re up our way…and always happy to have you part of my Private Newport online family!! xB

  3. Bettie, I think this property was always just waiting for you and your husband to create the most magical and romantic dwelling. Given the time and all the love you have given it, you both deserve this very special place.

  4. Great design vision! Just lovely! What is the tree/shrub name flanking the door? I love greenery at front entry surround but not ivy growing on my brick.

    1. Thank you, Nancy, I believe you’re referring to the hornbeams on either side of the front door. xB

  5. There’s nothing more heart stopping than the drive into a home you have created and love. Yours is stunning as well as welcoming. Isnt it wonderful when all that work pays off?!! Love reading about your creation! Thank you. Candy

    1. How eloquently you express my feelings! And yes, it is so rewarding “when all that work pays off.” xB

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