Saturday, June 20, 10 – 4 – Newport Area Open Day

The Garden Conservancy will sponsor an Open Day in Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday, June 20, from 10 – 4.  Visit Green Animals Topiary Garden at 380 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum at 101 Ferry Road and Route 114, for more information.

The Purviance Garden,  47 Kane Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island

For more than thirty years the owners have lovingly tended their gardens. The house is sheltered by two venerable lindens of astonishing form and framed by a billowing boxwood hedge, shaped by an artist. The border by the terrace holds flowering shrubs, a whimsical collection of potted plants, a garden pool, roses, perennials, and evergreens. A tiny playhouse is tucked under a copper beech. Other small gardens are constantly changing, rearranged by the owners who cannot resist tinkering.

Bellevue House Gardens, Newport, Rhode Island

This walled three-and-one-half-acre property serves as the private park of an estate designed by Ogden Codman Jr. for his cousin Martha. The gardens have recently been restored, embellished, and re-imagined. They pay homage to the garden designers of the American Renaissance period (1885-1930), and include a series of follies, exedras, and tea houses which form axes and vistas inviting diversions beyond the contemplation of the magnificent specimen trees set in sweeping lawns. The most recent additions include the American Renaissance Water Garden on the east side of the house. A carved granite statue of the goddess Pomona as a metaphorical deity passes energy to the current family over time. The waters gush forward from the her fruit-laden cornucopia, then rise up to a Villa Lante-like table, spill out the father’s lips, under a bridge, and down a long rill to a children’s fountain. A pergola nearby pays homage to Rosemary Verey’s laburnums and wisteria and frames the new tea house, replicating the work of Salem architect Samuel McIntyre (1800). At the rear of the property, stands the newest folly—the cupola of McIntyre’s 1809 Branch (now Howard Street) Church in Salem as redesigned by J. P. Couture of Providence. It is adjacent to an English water garden that reflects the cupola in its symmetrical pool. Completed in the fall of 2008, a new Oriental Vale extends the view to the south. Here a Chinese Chippendale bridge frames a cascade running from a lily-lined lagoon into the pond. A hillock blocks street views and sends a waterfall down to stepping stones that edge the lagoon, which is embraced by a shoal of large beach stones, Japanese maples, and granite lanterns. We regret that fishing for the multi-colored koi is not allowed. Nor will we in turn fish for compliments, though your comments and suggestions for this evolving work will be appreciated.

Parterre, Newport, Rhode Island

Recalling the romance of eighteenth-century France, a series of formal gardens with whimsical outbuildings surround the house, built just ten years ago amidst a park-like setting. Always a work in progress, inspiration from other gardens continue to provide precious details. The existing woodland had been reclaimed, with a fall “flame border” of Japanese maples as its accent (a la Sheffield Park, England.) From the fourteen-foot copper beech tapestry hedge to the evergreen “winter garden”, the focus at Parterre is on horticultural specimens and diversity.