Back in June, during my trip to Rhode Island our host, Blithewold Mansion scheduled a few private garden tours in the area for the group. I already shared Sakonnet Garden, and this week I am sharing the remaining gardens, Green Animals and The Blue Garden.
Our tour of Green Animals Topiary Garden was led by the property’s head horticulturist, Dan Christina. We toured during the perfect golden hour and honestly I did not snap enough photos. There was too many conversations and admiration of the topiaries for me to remember to snap away. The property features 7 acres in Portsmouth, Rhode Island and is an example of a Victorian gentleman’s farm. Compared to all the other mansions and gardens belonging to the Preservation Society of Newport, Green Animals is the most engaging for garden enthusiasts. The gardens are not sterile and exiled to a far corner, as you see with the gilded age mansions. The gardens are productive, bright and engaging, and then on top of that you have the amusement of the topiaries. (For amazing drone images of the gardens please check out HERE. I will ask to see if I can include the images in the blog post because provide the best overview of the garden’s different areas.)
There are over 80 topiaries at Green Animals, and were created by the property’s gardener Joseph Carreiro from 1905 to 1945 and his son-in-law, George Mendonca until 1985. This photo showcases the menagerie of clipped animals against the standard clipped hedging techniques.
Beyond the whit and whimsy of the “green animals”, Green Animals is a beautiful, productive garden. Cold frames are placed right next to a designed perennial bed. We had a few delicious radishes from those cold frames.
The graceful formal topiaries lining the side walkway, leading from the gardens, past the house towards the water beyond.
Green Animals’ gentleman’s farmhouse. It was about this point where our conversation moved to ghosts and personal experiences with the spirt world. Will not lie, the stories kinda freaked me out.
Just a portion the large Copper Beech Tree on the side of the house. See the house just for scale, it was majestic.
The timing of our visit was between the seasonal shift of spring bulbs to summer annuals. Peonies are still in bloom, while annual color is just getting started. Dan and his team are doing a lot of work within the gardens, ensuring impeccable maintenance and constant change of seasonal interest for visitors.
I wish we had more time at the gardens, we were already after hours when we arrived. On my next trip back would love to get inside all the old buildings and see the dahlias blooming.
The Newport area was totally bewitching. The gilded age summer homes are just insane, but also for all the other small waterfront villages and the rural areas with the true New England homes. I honestly cannot wait to go back, rent a car and just get lost. If you have any other must see areas in the Rhode Island area, I would love to have them for the next time.