Media description of a
private garden fund-raiser for Blithewold Mansion,
Gardens & Arboretum
The Gardens of Watch Hill
Open for Blithewold 2000" is a two series private garden
tour designed to benefit Blithewold Mansion, Gardens &
Arboretum, a 100 year old 45 room mansion surrounded by
33 acres of botanical grandeur situated on the Narragansett
Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The tours take place in June and August. This June series
is in the Watch Hill and Weekapaug area of Rhode Island.
The August series will be in Westport, Massachusetts on
the 18th and 19th. A separate ticket is required for each
The adjoining communities of Watch Hill and Weekapaug are
two of the most stunning areas in the already beautiful
state of Rhode Island. Watch Hill is a charming Victorian
village and has long been a favorite hideaway for famous
visitors. Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks, Groucho Marx,
Isadora Duncan and David Niven were all drawn to the beauty
and privacy of this sea-side retreat.
Those ambitious enough to make
the journey to these gorgeous coastal spots will be well
rewarded as they make their way around the nine gardens
highlighted for this very special private garden tour. Watch
Hill is on a peninsula - the highest land south of Bar Harbor
in Maine and therefore most of the homes enjoy water views.
The gardens range from small but abundantly planted to large
and lavishly landscaped. Almost all boast dramatic water
views. Coastal and deer proof plantings are high on the
list of many of the gardens featured.
Westport, Massachusetts, is a beautiful small harbor town
in the southern most part of the state. Water views also
play a prominent part in the varied scenic make up of this
area. Gardening and horticulture are primary past times
in this area and visitors are often heard to comment on
the gardens viewed from the road. A private garden tour,
however, gives you the opportunity to peek behind those
You can set your own pace, leisurely or otherwise, as the
tours are self guided with the help of a detailed map. Distances
between gardens are shorter than they appear on the map.
However, the map together with the directions should eliminate
any confusion. At each location look for the pink and black
To avoid congestion, and for your own comfort, please try
to visit the gardens in a random sequence. Be a good neighbor
when parking. With thanks from the Gardens Open committee,
the owners of the individual gardens, and the communities
of Watch Hill and Weekapaug.
THE GARDENS: Rain or Shine!
18 East Hills Road, Watch Hill
family residence exudes warmth and hospitality in a relaxed
informality. It is a year-round home which is unusual in
this summer resort. The house, a large grey clapboard contemporary
sits perched on a dramatically steep site. The gradient
however did not daunt the owners or the landscape designer,
Louis Raymond of Renaissance Gardening in nearby Hopkinton.
The landscaping is extensive and many of the plants were
chosen not only for their beauty but also for their deer-proof
qualities. A pollarded grove of red-twig Japanese maples
greets visitors as they turn from the driveway to the front
of the house. A sparkling feature is the rose garden at
the side of the house lightly enclosed by a waist-high fence
on which is growing a lush ivy.
Bayberry Ridge, 123 Avondale Road, Watch
This uniquely designed family house is fabulously situated
on the shores of the Pawcatuck River and boasts a simply
gorgeous view of Colonel Willie Cove, looking over at Connecticut
on the far shore. The main house, which has a grey clapboard
facade, stone foundation and green roof, was built in 1910
and is on the Watch Hill Historic Register and the National
Register of Historic Places. A variety of herbaceous flower
beds grace the lawn area in the front of the house. Recently
it was discovered that the roots of a dwarf clipped hedge
near the front door were crowding out the roots of the roses
in a nearby bed. These family favorites were then moved
from this site to a more accommodating one further out into
the lawn area. The gardens also feature beautiful mature
trees and sumptuous shrubbery.
9 Ridge Road, Watch Hill
“It’s not called Ridge Road for nothing.”
This property is one of the most dramatic on the tour with
the house sitting atop this steep ridge overlooking a private
hidden pond. There is a feast of plant material to absorb
- many different heathers, a beautiful specimen Paperbark
Maple (Acer griseum), an equally gorgeous specimen Tall
Stewartia (Stewartia monadelpha), day lily beds, a rose
garden, a white perennial garden, arbors, a folly, a cottage
garden - the list goes on. As you leave you will see in
full view a huge, mature Hinoki False Cypress (Chamaecyparis
obtusa crippsii). The garden was designed by Susan W. Plimpton
Inglecote, 11 Westerly Road, Watch Hill
Inglecote tugs at the heartstrings. It is the oldest ‘farmhouse’
in the area - a low, warm, pale yellow house with an elegant
up-swept curved roofline which accentuates the artfully
controlled wisteria vines “supporting” the columns
of the porch. This very private property has, in the back,
one of the largest trumpet vines in the area, and an adorable
enclosed garden of raised beds of different heights. The
gardens happily occupy a great deal of the owners time.
Craigie Brae, 6 Aquidneck Avenue, Watch
This beautiful house, built in 1890, is on the Watch Hill
Historic Disrict and the National Register of Historic Places.
It sits comfortably on its lovely site overlooking Fosters
Cove on Little Narragansett Bay. The gardens were exquisitely
designed by Susan Plimpton in 1985. Mrs. Plimpton created
garden rooms to accommodate the craggy and varied terrain
- among these rooms you will find a walk-through English
Garden, a green garden with a small fish pond, then through
an arbor overhung with Clematis montana you will see a wide
perennial border across from which is a large herb garden
featuring a knot design. Behind this are old-fashioned English
roses. One marvelous feature is a mature Paperbark Maple
(Acer griseum) at the edge of the terrace. This garden is
a regular on the Garden Conservancy tours.
Trespasso, 3 Lighthouse Road, Watch
is a large, comfortable brown shingle house with green shutters
and white trim. You will be bowled over by the fabulous
view of the Watch Hill Lighthouse and Napatree Point from
the lovely huge terrace on which are a variety of designed
containers. Coastal grasses are prolific in this lovely
Pomme de Mer, 7 Niantic Road, Watch Hill
What hits you first as you enter Pomme de Mer is the breathtaking
view over the grasses and wetlands to Block Island Sound.
But then your attention is drawn to the many different gardens
within the larger 10-acre garden, all framed against this
ocean backdrop. A heather garden, a new rose garden almost
fully enclosed by a dwarf circular clipped hedge and a fenced
vegetable garden are just some of the areas to look at.
There are stone garden features, containers, and an exquisite
small lush Hinoki False Cypress (Chaemacyparis obtusa ‘nana
grisillus’) nestled on the terrace.
1 Meadow Avenue, Weekapaug
This immaculately manicured property boasts a gorgeous young
Stewartia in the rear, well worth the visit just to see
this. This lovely tree sits in the private enclosed garden
at the rear of the house. The front of the house is elegantly
framed with lush pacassandra and a mature shrub border that
perfectly sets off the house and surrounding borders.
23 Chapman Road, Weekapaug
From the owner - “Just ten years ago there was nothing
here but the swamp maple, junipers and big rocks.”
Now there is a cottage garden with an emphasis on abundant
summer bloom, an oriental garden is being created in the
rear and features some unique shrubs, a small pond and an
arbor made in part of bamboo. Newly planted clematis climbs
on the trellis which stretchs all the way along the driveway.
Sumptuously planted the huge herbaceous border in the front
is home to some very unusual perennials including a variegated