Daffodils and Bear-shaped hedges

Newport Mansions Spring Preview

I think we can agree that the definitive symbol of spring is the flower. And what about the definitive activity: spring cleaning? And the creatures that best represent the season? The birds, of course. Well, springtime at the Newport Mansions has that all covered for you and then some.

If flowers are your thing head to Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth and stroll among the daffodils and tulips while you can. Opening April 13, the gardens there are a committed horticultural endeavor, providing blooms and topiaries in a sylvan setting.

Giraffe hedges and tulips
Photo courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County


Upper garden (Gavin Ashworth)
Photo courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County


Well, if daffodils tickle your fancy, you don’t have to leave town. Newport has a million of them – literally, a million! And a festival to celebrate them. You don’t even have to leave Castle Hill – we have 15,000 of them!

2019 Daffodil Days Festival logo from April 13 to 21, 2019

Ah, but this is a blog post about mansions. Oh, so many to mention! Let’s focus on the Elms and Rosecliff…

The Elms has recently undergone a thorough interior cleaning. The estate was operated in the grand style of the Gilded Age from 1901 through the early sixties, when it was opened as a museum by the Preservation Society of Newport County. The mansion has been refreshed and renewed in time for Spring.

Fireplace at The Elms

Also refreshed and renewed is the famous Servant Life Tour that takes place only at The Elms. Education and Interpretive Programs Specialist, Abigail Stewart, has realigned the elements of the tour to tell the tale of Newport’s servants more precisely and concisely. “It’s a great way to see where the people who kept these houses lived and worked,” says Stewart. “Our guests really connect with this tour.” Enjoy the stories of the servants, as you experience their third floor living quarters, and get a bird’s eye view of the Elms’ landscape and formal gardens, as you travel out to the roof (weather permitting).

Servant Life hallway at The Elms

Abigail Stewart Education and Interpretive Programs Specialist at PSNC
Abigail Stewart, Education and Interpretive Programs Specialist at PSNC


As for Rosecliff, it has totally gone to the birds. The new exhibition, John James Audubon: Obsession Untamed, will be on view in the second-floor galleries March 30 through November 3, and feature over 25 of Audubon’s beautiful hand-colored double- elephant folio sized works from his groundbreaking publication Birds of America. According to curator Ashley Householder, the exhibit “colorfully explores the naturalist’s relentless pursuit of the birds of America and his singular determination in seeing his beautiful artworks published.”

In a commitment to authenticity, Audubon insisted on the double-elephant folio size, the largest available paper for publication, in order to show larger birds at their actual size; perhaps what makes his works so intriguing is the detail he put in to depicting the natural environment of each individual species. Audubon’s endeavors “resulted in arguably the most enduring images associated with the modern conservation movement,” says Householder.

Ashley Householder Curator of Exhibitions at PSNC
Ashley Householder, Curator of Exhibitions at PSNC

John James Audubon: Obsession Untamed Exhibit

Interior of The Elms

Spring is a wonderful time to be in Newport and truly just a wonderful time to be alive! Enjoy it while you can. Before long it will be time to traipse through the Newport Flower Show at Rosecliff.

Rosecliff Mansion Newport
Photo Courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County


The theme this year is Audubon Artistic Adventures. I wonder where they got that? As you can see, Newport will provide the flowers and the birds for you to enjoy this season. The spring cleaning is on you.

Shea C Nelson