2015-06-11 / Front Page

Everything's Coming Up Roses at Flower Show

By Pat Blakeley


The 20th Newport Flower Show’s displays, exhibits, and themed gardens will reflect America’s timeless style and the beauty of the American Beauty Rose at Rosecliff June 19-21.(Photo by John Corbett, courtesy of the Preservation Society) The 20th Newport Flower Show’s displays, exhibits, and themed gardens will reflect America’s timeless style and the beauty of the American Beauty Rose at Rosecliff June 19-21.(Photo by John Corbett, courtesy of the Preservation Society) The Newport Flower Show celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a program – and a theme – sure to dazzle. “American Beauty: Timeless Style” incorporates not only the iconic American Beauty Rose, first introduced at Rosecliff by historian George Bancroft, but also the treasured traditions of American culture, celebrating both the style and spirit inherent in the nation.

Chair Patricia Fernandez promises many surprises and says she is especially delighted to honor the founders at the anniversary event.

Brittain Bardes, Mrs. Robert H. Charles, Norey Dotterer Cullen, Kate Gubelmann, Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton and Edward Lindemann, who founded the Newport Flower Show in 1996, will be formally recognized. In tribute, designers will re-create a Gilded Age conservatory on the terrace, an intimate space in which to relax with elegant furnishings, hanging lanterns, plants, and photographs of the founders and previous flower shows. Period appropriate topiary, terrarium, Wardian case, and grand dame classes will be staged and judged in the conservatory.


Innovative designs are a hallmark of the Newport Flower Show. (Photo by John Corbett, courtesy of the Preservation Society) Innovative designs are a hallmark of the Newport Flower Show. (Photo by John Corbett, courtesy of the Preservation Society) Focusing on Rosecliff, where the show has been held since its inception, was a natural choice for the anniversary, Fernandez notes, honoring both the American Beauty Rose and the property itself.

“Typically we have to transform Rosecliff into another exotic setting to reflect the theme,” said Jim Donahue, Horticulture Chair and Curator of Landscapes for the Preservation Society, but this year the neoclassical beauty of Rosecliff will be showcased. The white terra cotta palace designed by Stanford White was patterned after the Grand Trianon at Versailles and was the scene for a grand Bal Blanc hosted by Gilded Age society hostess Theresa Oelrichs. Opulent display gardens on the front lawn will reimagine The White City, the backdrop for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and statuary original to the 1893 White City will be featured.

Although Fernandez is in her second year as solo chair, she laughs at the idea that she runs the show. “We have committees that handle everything,” she says, and lauds the Preservation Society staff and more than 400 veteran volunteers who are the backbone of the event, adding, “It would be impossible without them. This isn’t my show; it is Newport’s show.”

While it includes many of the same elements, the Newport Flower Show has evolved greatly in two decades. Last year’s designation as a Major Show by the Garden Club of America furthered its national reputation.

Recent outreach efforts have ensured that novice gardeners feel as welcome as repeat prizewinners, and Fernandez notes that many first-timers walk away with ribbons. Blind judging ensures all entries are assessed on their elements alone, and more than 100 accredited judges evaluate almost 1,000 specimens.

Programs cultivating love of gardening in the next generation are on the uptick and take place year-round. Classes at Pell School have been growing plants from seeds and planting sensory gardens, incorporating specimens designed to spark multiple senses.

Last year, Horticultural Passing Co-Chair Patricia Bailey brought her neighborhood children’s garden club, Hope Street Blooms, and the youngest, five-year-old Mayer Bansal, asked if they could take the flowers home to give to people. They harvested unclaimed cut specimens, and the budding horticulturalists each made 4-6 arrangements and brought them to the John Clarke Retirement Center. A new Flower Show tradition was born.

Newport’s social season officially kicks off at the Opening Night Gala on Friday, June 19. The magical, not-to-be-missed soirĂ©e offers partygoers a more intimate look at the displays and gardens, while enjoying a dinner buffet, music and dancing, private shopping, and special themed entertainment. Although the public and most of the staff are kept in the dark about the opening night elements to maximize the “wow factor,” Donahue and Fernandez agree that the festivities will be spectacular.

In addition to free daytime programming, ticketed events will feature nationally recognized speakers at luncheon and tea lectures. Jane Godshalk, a designer of international renown who has represented the United States at numerous international floral competitions, will demystify floral arranging with “Floral Arranging Secrets – Natural Designs for Everyday Living.” Award-winning designer and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith is returning to lead a “Ten for Ten – Timeless Tips” workshop. Peter Hatch, who served as Monticello’s head gardener for 40 years, will discuss “Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden.”

An Author’s Tea will be held Friday afternoon. Guests will enjoy sweet and savory delicacies and meet with featured speakers and authors. Last year’s hit Sunday Champagne Brunch will also return, adding a jazz component to begin the last day.

Ticket sales are brisk for the show and all events, Fernandez reports, and a record-breaking number of groups, gardening enthusiasts from up and down the East Coast, are expected.

TO GO:

WHERE: Rosecliff Mansion, 548 Bellevue Ave.

WHEN: Fri., June 19,
10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sat., June 20, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun., June 21, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

COST: Single day show admission: $18 in advance, $25 at door Friday, $23 Saturday and Sunday. Advance ticketing is required for luncheon/lecture events, afternoon tea, champagne brunch, and the opening night party.

MORE INFO: newpor tflowershow.com

Return to top