Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden, The Parterre Bench


Travels with the Parterre Bench

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Since travel plans have been so curtailed this past year, I’m now going to treat us to some mini “armchair trips,” with the focus on my favorite topic — gardens (what a surprise). Please permit me a bit of dreaming here; I find it serves us very well, especially in stressful times. My Parterre Bench is going to come along with us…from England to Florida, from the Bahamas to France…and many places in between (courtesy of a bit of trompe l’oeil, or photoshopping by another name).

As I was happily taking pictures on my earlier travels, I came to realize a simple truth…all beautiful gardens have something in common with the Parterre Bench. As the designer of this garden centerpiece, I may be a bit biased, but who better to speak to this spirit? And what is it that my creation and gardens have in common?

Firstly, a garden and the Parterre Bench each have a story to tell. There is an origin to their beginnings. For us, it was building a new home, to include gardens, allowing me to realize a vision that I had embraced for 35 years…a fanciful “Alice in Wonderland” bench that I chanced upon in an Irish garden. My interpretation would ultimately become the centerpiece of our Newport green paradise.

Bringing us to the second commonality between gardens and the Parterre Bench…they are birthed in passion. This image that I had treasured for so long taught me the importance of holding onto a dream, no matter how long that may be (35 years!). In the first renderings of our gardens, I had included a bower in the Fountain Garden for this “bench.” The bower sat empty for 8 years, but I never ceased to believe that the “bench” would come to pass.

And a garden, to include its accessories and furnishings, are driven by vision. Well yes, you might say, but often the importance of the power of the mind and memory in bringing something into existence is taken for granted…and they should not be!

As we have all experienced, the process of creating must also be nurtured with dedication….to keeping that vision in mind, to not letting challenges deter us in our mission. I was determined beyond a doubt to have a garden bench that was unlike any other that I had, or to this day, have seen.

Any project or undertaking, be it a new home, a garden, or a piece of furniture deserves and requires a commitment to quality. That is not a negotiable point in my mind! Excellence is the only acceptable outcome. The meticulous details of designing the Parterre Bench were given the same level of workmanship as my husband and I put into our new home.

This bespoke piece of furniture is crafted by hand to exacting design standards and specifications. The material…Honduran mahogany; the size…a generous 62″w. x 63″ h.; the stability…2 1/2″ thick and 110 lbs; the intricacy…”capturing the grace of a flower and the flourish of a leaf.” The Parterre Bench is substantial (as the price implies) and, I’m proud to say, made in the USA, in Newport, Rhode Island (not “offshore”).

As each Bench completes its made to order steps, I humbly celebrate creativity. That overarching common ground that a garden and the Parterre Bench share. How blessed I feel to have enjoyed so many opportunities in my life “to create,” but the Parterre Bench especially will always have a treasured place in my heart.

Speaking of common ground, since we are all constrained from travel I’ve also used these images as an opportunity to demonstrate the complementary design aspect of the Parterre Bench within different garden styles.

As a close (with a wink)…even Blenheim Palace gets to share in the fantasy of what the Parterre Bench could contribute to their rooms during the holiday season (did I mention “she” comes in any color of your choice, including Christmas red)?

Curious? Intrigued? Join us by clicking here to learn more about, and to purchase, the Parterre Bench. Happy virtual travels to you, my dear friends. Stay well, be safe.

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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".

6 thoughts on “Travels with the Parterre Bench

  1. As I am extremely homebound, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip! I love the Parterre Bench but don’t have a garden worthy of it. Our garden was destroyed by a tornado last year. What was left got trampled as damaged trees were cut and removed. I’m anxious to see what comes back this spring. Maybe a few hostas and ferns. Fingers crossed!

    1. Oh Claire, yes, my fingers are crossed for you. You may be very surprised at how intrepid those little plant’s roots can be!
      Stay tuned for more “travels.” xB

  2. Once again, dear Bettie, you have intrigued your opened-eyed audience!
    Your wondering Parterre Bench has experienced the joy of travel we all long for again. (Especially your return to California and our lovely Decorative Arts group 💕)
    Thank you for lifting our spirits and putting a smile on my face with these wonderful, humorous photos! The varied colors on your bench are definitely delicious !
    Warm hugs from sunny Orange County-
    Today 75*.
    xx Susan

    1. Oh Susan, such fun to hear from you…out there in 75* weather.
      Yes, returning to CA is top of my travel list…thanks for your sweet note, and being part of my Private Newport family! xB

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