United States of America, Rhode Island, Newport, Newport
Wildacre (Newport, Rhode Island)
The Olmsted Brothers' 1901 design for the one-acre gardens within a seven-acre seaside property exemplified the great interest in Japonism at that time, featuring a koi pond, tea shelter, and thatch roofed parasols. The landscape design complemented California architect Irving John Gill's 1902 house, described as an Arts & Crafts variation on the New England shingle style with oriental features. The site is a rocky outcropping above a salt water cove and the gardens highlighted natural features such as rocky outcroppings while preserving the wild character of the location. Wildacre, also known as the Japanese garden, was designed as a strolling garden with both open views of the ocean and composed garden rooms. Nearly 100 years later the garden was rejuvenated with reference to the original Olmsted plans and drawings.
The restoration included planting replacement specimen trees and adding a mixed layer of deciduous and evergreen trees as a privacy barrier along the road since the property had been reduced to 2.5 acres. A dense privet hedge clipped to resemble waves that acts as a buffer against the ocean was restored, and a gravel bocce court was installed nearby. Mostly white flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials were included in the predominantly green planting scheme. Gardens include the Japanese-themed entrance garden with a momi fir planted by Olmsted, a new Zen garden, a wisteria-covered tea shelter and surrounding garden, a pond garden, iris garden, peony garden, mountain garden and mountain top built from local rock. Many varieties of hosta, ferns, ornamental grasses, succulents, mosses, azaleas and conifers were planted throughout the property.
Persons associated with the garden include Albert H. Olmsted (1842-1929) (former owner, 1901- ); Howard Greeley (former owner, 1924- ); Thomas Bennett (former owner, 1929- ); Lilian Newlin (former owner, 1932- ); Ethel Fissell (former owner, 1935- ); C. Thomas Claggett (former owner, 1945- ); Maria Bove (former owner, 1953- ); Michael Bove III (former owner, 1982- ); Peter de Savary (former owner, 1997- ); Dorrance H. Hamilton (former owner, 1998- ); Irving John Gill (1870-1936) (architect, 1902); Madison Spencer (restoration architect, 1998); Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1870-1957) (landscape architect, 1902); Dave Quarry (head gardener, 1998-2013); Mary Ellen Flanagan (landscape designer, 1998- ); Dorrance H. Hamilton (garden designer, 1998-2013).
See also 35mm copy of 1919 postcard in the Richard Marchand Historical Postcard Collection. Image number RI091004.
The folder includes worksheets, oversize photocopies of original plans, images, and articles.
This property is featured in "Newport Estates and their Flora, Part II" by Richard Champlin in Newport History, Vol. 53, Part 3, Number 179, (summer 1980) pp. 98-100; "The Japanese Garden at Wildacre" by Bettie Bearden Pardee in "Private Newport: At Home and in the Garden," published by Boston: Bulfinch, 2004; "In Newport, a Peek at How the Rich Garden" by Carol Stocker, published in The Boston Globe, September 4, 2008; "Reawakening" by Carol Stocker, published in DESIGN New England, July/August 2012, pp. 90-97