Gardens

Blithewold, located in Bristol, RI, is 33 acres of lawns, gardens, specimen trees, and historic stone structures. Walking the grounds, you may be drawn to the cool shade of the Bosquet (“enclosed woodland”), enjoy the solitude of the Water Garden, absorb the history of the Enclosed Garden, or be dazzled by the abundance of the Display Gardens.

The sweeping 10 acre Great Lawn and its views to Narragansett Bay is the perfect setting for over 500 different kinds of trees and shrubs. Taking full advantage of the stunning water views and country setting, Landscape Architect John DeWolf designed the landscape starting in the mid 1890s, in an informal style with touches of formal elements.

When walking the grounds today, you will notice a combination of historic and modern gardening. In August 1926, Ernest “Chinese” Wilson and Alfred Rehder visited Blithewold and to the owners’ delight these eminent plantsmen from the Arnold Arboretum were awestruck by the variety of plants they found. In a letter to her daughter about the visit, Bessie Van Wickle McKee wrote, “They were frankly amazed to find so lovely and interesting a place here and kept saying, ‘Why you have an arboretum here; we never dreamed there was a place like this’.”

The Great Lawn sets the stage for all the surrounding gardens:

  • the Rock Garden located within yards of the shore
  • the more formal North Garden whose lush, deep borders are the background for weddings  and other social functions
  • the Rose Garden where a centenarian Chestnut Rose dominates
  • the Enclosed Garden with its undulating lawn, curved pathways, and Summerhouse that looks out on one of the tallest Giant Sequoias on the east coast
  • and finally the gravel lane, once the service road to the dock, is yet another shaded, leafy walk to the Bay

Have you not visited in a while? We invite you to come to Blithewold--the changes of the last five years may astonish you:

  • Hundreds of feet of historic gravel paths have been restored, allowing easy walking to all the main garden areas on the property
  • The number of trees and shrubs in the collection has grown from 2000 to 3000
  • The Display Gardens feature an ever-changing exhibit of thoughtful plant combinations and designs
  • The 1901 Lord & Burnham Greenhouse was restored in summer 2005 and is now open to the public. The Bosquet (“enclosed woodland”) is undergoing a long-term restoration

 

    From Our Blog

  • Prune it up (Jul 01, '15)
    I am really excited to introduce my fellow horticulturist, Betsy Ekholm to the blogosphere. Betsy started working with Gail and me in 2013 as our gardens intern and we couldn’t let her go. Had to make her an official member of the garden crew — though you wouldn’t be wrong to think after reading this post […]
  • Transition into summer (Jun 26, '15)
    The to-plant list is getting shorter and we are beginning to transition into a summer-full of deadheading/staking/weeding/enjoying. Right on schedule too: we always aim to be *done by July 4th. (*No garden is ever done.) This week we got the last of the plants out of the greenhouse, tucked in a few final packs of seedlings here and […]
  • The longest days (Jun 19, '15)
    June is full to bursting. Every plant that isn’t already blooming to beat the band is growing gangbusters (weeds included), and to say there’s a lot to do would be the understatement of the season.The long days leading up to the longest have been so busy that I have been feeling ready for a weekend as early as Tuesday. –Monday afternoon, even. Since […]
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Blithewold