The Blue Garden was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and the Olmsted Brothers firm from 1912 – 1918, for the Newport estate of Arthur Curtiss James and his wife, Harriet. Blasted from the surrounding terrain of enormous rocky outcroppings, the garden featured a unique planting palette of blues and purples “with some whites”, and shades of green foliage. The garden was hidden behind a frame of densely planted evergreen trees and flowering shrubs, keeping its horticultural riches out of incongruous conflict with the wilder irregular landscape. It was a secret garden, a hortus conclusus. The garden was opened to friends in August 1913 with a celebration called “The Blue Masque”, and was heralded by numerous magazine articles and photographs in the following years. In the 1970s the property was subdivided into individual lots, one of which included the Blue Garden. By 2012 the garden was almost forgotten, subsumed under a thick covering of weeds and invasive trees. This lecture will present the story of the people who created the Blue Garden and how the restoration team used the original Olmsted plans to understand the original design intent and to rebuild the Blue Garden.
Renewal of the Blue Garden in Newport, Rhode Island
- August 23, 2017
- SVF Foundation