Visitors to Newport, RI have long been captivated by the city’s landscape. From its diverse historic architecture, to its coastline and picturesque gardens, the combination creates an historic atmosphere that is unmatched in cities across the region. On June 9, 2016 at 10:30am the Newport Historical Society in partnership with the Preservation Society of Newport County will present Newport & Historic Gardens, a unique program that explores and celebrates historic gardens. Join an exclusive site tour of Newport’s Blue Garden, a private garden that was recently recreated to reflect its early 20th century historic nature. Afterwards enjoy a talk with author Caroline Seebohm and photographer Curtice Taylor as they discuss their new book Rescuing Eden: Preserving America’s Historic Gardens at the Breakers Stable. Transportation and lunch included.
What is the Blue Garden? In 1908 Commodore Arthur Curtiss and Harriet Parsons James hired the nation’s leading landscape firm, Olmsted Brothers, to develop the Blue Garden, a secret garden hidden behind a dense border of trees and shrubs. The garden features an unusual horticultural palette requested by Mrs. James, “a monochromatic concentration of purples and blues.” From its opening celebratory spectacle, “The Masque of the Blue Garden” in August 1913, events in the Blue Garden were covered in newspapers and periodicals across the country. Much heralded in its own era, the Blue Garden’s 2014 renewal recalls Newport’s grand cultural aspirations that remain and thrive today.
Rescuing Eden celebrates the history of United States garden design through dozens of examples that have been saved by ardent conservationists and generous private owners. The sites featured in the book include simple 18th- and early 19th-century gardens to the lavish estates of the Gilded Age, the gardens started by 1930s inmates at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay to the centuries-old camellias at Middleton Place near Charleston, SC.
Garden Design Journal describes the “gardens [in Rescuing Eden are] photographed so enthrallingly by Curtice Taylor…Caroline Seebohm’s narratives, involving the creation, loss and rediscovery of 30 gardens, are peopled with painters, poets, opera singers, civil rights activists and heroic widows, making for an irresistible mix.” Library Journal describes the book as “lavishly illustrated with images by garden photographer Curtice Taylor, [it] will appeal to gardeners and preservationists.”
A journalist by background, Caroline Seebohm’s publication credits include The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country,Travel & Leisure and House & Garden. She has authored twelve books including Cottages & Mansions of the Jersey Shoreand Monumental Dreams: The Life and Sculpture of Ann Norton. A well-known landscape and garden photographer, Curtice Taylor’s images and art work have appeared on covers for Knopf, Random House, Viking Penguin, Harper Collins, Holt Reinhardt and Crown Publishers. He teaches photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Tickets cost $45 general admission, $35 for PSNC and NHS members; to purchase the book with the admission ticket it costs $95 for general admission, $75 for PSNC and NHS members. The entrance fee includes trolley transportation from the Breakers Stable & Carriage House (55 Coggeshell Avenue) to the Blue Garden and then back to the Breakers Stable where a box lunch will be served before the lecture. Reservations required; space is limited to 34 participants. To purchase tickets visit NewportHistory.org; to learn more about the Blue Garden visit thebluegarden.org.