The owners of this Victorian-style cottage in Newport, Rhode Island, created calming green spaces and outdoor rooms for living-all on a long narrow lot.
When David and Jeannie Clarke converted their new home in Newport, Rhode Island’s Historic Hill district from multi- to single-family use two years ago, they also wanted a matching makeover for the outside.
Faced with a privet hedge that hid the front entrance, a backyard covered with asphalt for off-street parking, and a long driveway to the garage at the far end of the 60×150-foot lot, the Clarkes decided the only wise course was to seek professional help.
Enter Newport landscape architect Kate Field, who agreed to mastermind the grading, drainage, planting, even running the utility wires underground and the choice of garden furniture.
“This type of late-1800s Victorian cottage is distinguished by clean, simple lines and a charming symmetry,” Field says. “The architecture and the size of the lot-and the personal style of the new owners-dictated the style of the gardens.”
“The first of the three outdoor living rooms she installed is a mahogany deck. It extends from the kitchen steps to the property line and looks over a garden room furnished with chaise lounges. The home’s third outside room is a gated, formal garden that goes to the end of the lot.
“When the architectural details and the garden style agree, a sense of peace occurs,” Field says. The structures and ornaments in the gardens support the Victorian theme. The balusters of the porch, for example, are repeated in the backyard on the balcony off the second-floor sitting room.
“Wherever you go in the gardens,” Field says, “comfortable seating, cheerful flowers, gentle colors, fragrance, views, and a sense of peace are waiting. It’s surprising there could be so much pleasure in a reclaimed parking lot.”