For the Gardener: Rhode Island’s Green Animals Topiary Garden

Green Animals Topiary Garden, Rhode Island© 2009 The Preservation Society of Newport CountyAn elephant and a giraffe are among the dozens of animals in this botanical menagerie, the oldest topiary garden in the United States.

380 Cory’s Ln., Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Thomas E. Brayton, a Massachusetts manufacturer, purchased this seven-acre estate in 1877 and summered here until his death in 1939.

Exquisite evidence of Brayton’s interest in topiary may be seen today as one wanders through the gardens. But it was his daughter, the late Alice Brayton, an amateur horticulturist, who helped bring these 80 forms to their present perfection, putting them in a class with the nation’s best examples of topiary.

Among the animal shapes are a lion, a peacock, a camel, a giraffe, a horse and rider, and an elephant. A fat bear is especially appealing. Elsewhere, perennial, biennial, and annual flower beds, as well as plantings of ferns, shrubs, and fruit trees, create a subtle blend of scent and sight.

From the clapboard main house there is a lovely view of Narragansett Bay. Inside, a small toy collection is displayed, including an impressive exhibit of toy soldiers.

Open daily mid-May–mid-Oct. Admission charged.

(401) 847-1000; (401) 683-1267

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