Welcome to a tour of the Newport, Rhode Island Flower Show. The tour begins on Bellevue Ave. (Remember, you can click on each picture to enlarge it and get a closer look.)
The avenue is a lushly green impeccably manicured street where the rich and famous reside in Newport. It's the address that impresses and has been since the late 1800s. Each side of the street is lined with large black iron fences and elaborately grand gates with intricate designs and gold leaf touches. Behind each gate is a large mansion. As I walk by each one I can only dream of what it must have been like back in the 1800's going for a stroll in a long flowing dress and parasol.
The gate into Rosecliff is quite common for it's day. It opens into a long driveway that is now paved but was once filled with gravel as horse-drawn carriages road over it towards the house.
As you enter the property a sign welcomes you to this historic site.
The first look inside the property you'll see a large planting container. Not your average container - this one is over 6 feet tall and filled with Asiatic lilies. The sweet scent of the container plantings was intoxicating as I walked up to it to get a closer look.
Each flower was incredibly large and perfect. Of course, this was our first blue ribbon winner of the show.
The Rosecliff mansion is set way back inside the property. It's not visible from the street as are many of the other mansions. Instead visitors are teased towards the house by the massive elm and oaks trees as well the perfectly shaped boxwoods that carve a path towards to the "cottage." I would have taken a picture but the since this was was garden show event all you would have seen was vendor tents and it wouldn't have done it justice.
As you enter the property a path that meanders towards the house leads visitors to the first display of the show where entrants for the bicycle basket competition are lined up. Here there were about 20 different brightly colored bikes with baskets brimming full of flowers and foliage. Each one was more beautiful and creative than the next. These baskets gave me such great ideas and inspiration. I'd love to have one on display in my garden.
Here's a lime-green bicycle with bright foliage to match.
And a closeup of another.
Pretty in pink - this bicycle has a cottage-styled basket.
A closer look - notice the small garden hats picks tucked in among the flowers.
Another pink bicycle. Pink was a popular color choice for many of the entrants.
With a smile on my face from looking at all these happy bikes I moved on to the next display. Here I was greeted with a butterfly garden planted around an old fountain. This was breathtaking as at least 20 different kinds of butterflies were fluttering around it. The picture doesn't nearly do it justice. My photography skills just weren't good enough to catch all of those butterflies. I stood there for about 20 minutes just taking it all in and watching serenely as the monarchs flew around me. I was tickled by their soft wings and giggled like a child. True happiness for me....
I continued on with the tour and walked past many vendor tents and small displays. Finally there was a break in the trees and I saw this...
In all it's glory is Rosecliff. A magnificently large white mansion with a formal garden leading up to it. Imagine pulling up to this in early 1902 in a horse-drawn carriage. It took my breath away as I'm sure it did to those who visited it's grandness back when it was a private home.
A close look at a brightly colored flower arrangement near the front palladium windows.
On the right side of mansion is the front door. I thought it odd that the front door is over to the side since most mansions have their front door as the centerpiece. But, with the palladium windows and formal gardens being showcased in the front I can see why the architects and landscapers of the time choose to design it this way.
When you open the massive front doors you are greeted by a grand central staircase and elaborately decorated foyer. Imagine the lady of house descending down these stairs dressed in her finest gown ready to greet her guests for a lavish ball.
There's so much more to see. Stay tuned for another installment of the flower show tour.