Before & After: A Victorian Cottage Garden in Newport

Before & After: A Victorian Cottage Garden in Newport

Restoration Stories

WHEN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, KATHERINE FIELD OF NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND WAS PRESENTED THE DILEMMA OF CONVERTING A SMALL PAVED BACKYARD INTO A CITY OASIS, SHE ROSE TO THE CHALLENGE AND MORE

Newport, ‘the city by the sea’ has been through several transformations over the years. A thriving seaport, this town has been home to whalers, fisherman, trading routes, yachting and the Navy.  It has been enjoying a resurgence as a resort city boasting beautiful beaches and some of the best sailing on the East Coast.  With the onset of telecommuting, it has also become a full time residential town.

The front of the house needed some sprucing up, nothing a good coat of paint, a porch railing and a white picket fence couldn’t cure.

This turn of the century Victorian cottage, one of many that had been renovated into two family homes to fill the demand of Navy personal and summer renters in 1960’s and 70’s, was purchased with the new owners reverting it back into a single family house. The inside and out were in desperate need renovation.

Katherine Field of Katherine Field and Associates, was tasked with renovating the gardens;  from demolition down to purchasing the garden furnishings.   The house had been returned to it’s quaint Victorian self and all the shrubs had been torn out when Katherine arrived on the scene.  It gave her an empty canvas where she was able to  ‘dress’ this lady up with a row of hydrangea’s in front of the porch, pops of floral color, green shrubs and the quintessential white picket fence.

Flanking the front steps, hydrangeas and daylilies produce long lasting, colorful blooms for a good part of the summer.

THREE ‘ROOMS’

Hidden behind this all-American exterior was a 60′ long but narrow plot. Street parking is limited in Newport and the backyard had previously been made into a parking lot when it was a two-family home. Kate’s mission was to carve out living space and to create a hidden city oasis.

She took into account the family’s needs, their wish list and city restrictions. In order to keep the much coveted off-the-street parking and garage, she used half of the property for the garden and to prevent the ‘bowling lane’ effect, she divided it into three garden ‘rooms.’

Space in the middle of town in Newport is at a premium.  Katherine Field had to design the space for privacy and optimize the space for living while paying homage to traditional garden design and elements.

The entrance to the garden through a gated pergola comes from the driveway.

The first of the three outdoor  ‘rooms’ is defined by the mahogany deck which extends out from the kitchen steps toward the property line where the family enjoys summer dining and barbecuing. The existing tree, which provides shade and privacy was incorporated into the deck. 

The second ‘room’, a slate terraced garden, is furnished with chaise lounges and seating areas –  perfect for entertaining or an afternoon at home.

A formal garden leads to a private sitting area tucked away in the back.

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This article first appeared in our former publication, The Daily Basics.

The ‘after images’ courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens 

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