Tryon Palace Historic Gardens
Tryon Palace encompasses 14 acres of gardens that offer nearly three centuries of gardening history. From the 18th-century Wilderness Garden, with its native plants that greeted the first European settlers in this area, through the lush displays favored by the Victorians, to 20th-century colonial revival interpretations of earlier periods, the gardens at Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens offer visitors an almost endless variety.
What were the Palace Gardens really like?
We can only make intelligent guesses about what kind of gardens there might have been surrounding the 18th-century Palace. Governor Tryon seems to have had little interest in horticulture. Two maps of New Bern drawn in 1769, when the Palace was still under construction, reveal two different garden plans.
More than two centuries later, in 1991, Palace researchers discovered yet another plan. In the collections of the Academia Nacional de la Historia in Venezuela they found a garden plan that came from Palace architect, John Hawks. Hawks gave the plan to Venezuelan traveler Francisco de Miranda, who admired the Palace greatly when he visited New Bern in 1783. The Miranda plan suggests a strong French influence instead of the more expected English garden style.
None of the historic garden plans has ever been implemented at the Palace. The current gardens were designed by Morley Williams at the time of the Palace Restoration. Before undertaking the Palace project, Williams had served on the faculties of Harvard and North Carolina State Universities and assisted in the restoration of the gardens at Mount Vernon and Stratford Hall. His designs are in the colonial revival style that was widely employed in the mid 20th century.
The Individual Gardens
The Kitchen Garden
Stop by the kitchen any day and chances are you will find the cooks preparing lunch with produce from the kitchen garden. This garden, located behind the Kitchen Office, offers a variety of produce almost year-round. Eighteenth-century varieties of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees make the kitchen garden one of the most popular of our outdoor sites.
The Kellenberger Garden
This walled garden, which can be viewed from the Council Chamber in the Palace, honors Mr. And Mrs. John A. Kellenberger, two of the original benefactors of the Palace Restoration. The garden has an 18th-century flavor, although it is unlikely that such a garden was part of the original Palace grounds. The Kellenberger Garden contains examples of many plants that might have appeared in original Palace gardens, some of which would have been brought in on ships that docked on New Bern’s busy waterfront.
The Wilderness Garden
South of the Palace stretching towards the Trent River is the Wilderness Garden, so named because it reflects a more natural “landscape” style that we popular in 18th-century England but rare in the American colonies in the 1770s. Most plants in the Wilderness Garden were native to North America when explorers first came here. The fence at the south end of the garden traces the shoreline of the Trent River when the Palace was first built. No doubt some Palace visitors arrived on boats.
Maude Moore Latham Memorial Garden
The Latham Garden memorializes Maude Moore Latham, who was a driving force in the restoration of the Palace. Mrs. Latham worked tirelessly for the restoration during her lifetime. When she died in 1951, her will established the Latham Trust, which funded building and furnishing the Palace and continues today as an important source of funding for Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens.
This formal garden is a perennial favorite of our visitors. Clipped hedges, flowers and paths combine to form the patterns that define a “parterre” garden. The hedges here are of dwarf yaupon, a Carolina native, rather than the boxwood that was used in English gardens of the period. Statues of the four seasons survey the seasonal displays of spring bulbs, summer annuals, and fall chrysanthemums.
Green Herb Garden
Morley Williams, the landscape architect of the Palace Restoration, called this a “Privy Garden,” a small enclosed space designed to be seen form the house and for the private use of the family.
Stanly House Garden
The Stanly House was moved to its present location in 1966, and the following year a formal “Town Garden” of brick walks edged with boxwood was created. While the overall design suggests an 18th-century garden, plantings close to the foundation of the house were not typical of that era. The garden includes two reproduction summer houses that are based on structures that appear in an 1862 drawing of the Stanly House. Summer houses provided a shady retreat for hot summer days.
Located directly behind the Visitor Center, the Carraway Garden was named in memory of Gertrude Carraway, who spearheaded the effort to restore the Palace and then served for many years as the first Director of Tryon Palace Restoration. The Carraway Garden is a parterre garden (see Latham Garden). It uses both modern and historic plants in its seasonal displays.
Commission House Garden
This late Victorian Garden features many plants that we think of as “old fashioned.” In fact, many of these plants were exotic imports that were introduced into the South in the second half of the 19th century. Among perennial favorites imported from Asia in the 1800s are bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophyla) and nandina (Nandina domestica).
The Pleached Allée
Pleaching is a term for intertwining branches to form a hedge. Here, yaupon holly (Ilex vormitoria) has been pleached across the top of the walkway to create a shady path and a vista of the Trent River. The Pleached Allée is part of an axis starting at the Green Garden and ending at the river.
This lovely garden is named for John Hawks, the architect of the original Palace. Lovely flowers frame Italian statues from the estate of Mrs. Louise du Pont Crowninshield. The Hawks Allée is the end point of an axis starting at the west door of the Stable Office and extending through the center of the Latham Garden.
Mary Kistler Stoney Flower Garden
Located on Pollock Street just beyond the Carraway Garden, the Stoney Garden is surrounded by a white picket fence. It features old-fashioned perennials and antique roses of varieties known to have graced New Bern gardens in the 19th century. The garden was constructed in the late 1990s with funding provided by the family of Mary Kistler Stoney, a member of the original Tryon Palace Commission.
Dot Tyler Garden at the Jones House
This garden honors a member of the Tryon Palace Garden Committee. It is laid out in a modern mixture of beds and lawn but the plantings are similar to those in mid 19th-century New Bern gardens. Emeline Pigott, a Confederate spy, was imprisoned in the Jones House during the Civil War. Her view from her “prison” window might have included flowers similar to those in the Dot Tyler Garden today.
Hay House Garden
The garden behind the Hay House is more practical than ornamental. Primarily swept dirt, this garden provides fruits, vegetables and herbs of the sorts most likely grown by the Hay family for food and medicinal uses. Mrs. Hay harvests produce to prepare in her “modern” stove in the Hay House’s basement kitchen and to dry for later use.
Want to know more? Check out the ultimate source for Cultural Resources in North Carolina, NCDCR.
courtesy of Tryon Palace
added: June 11, 2009
updated: December 7, 2010
Ideas & What To Do
Just the mention of the North Carolina Coast conjures images of…
Spring in the Piedmont leaves no doubt why the dogwood is the state…
Once taller than the Alps, North Carolina’s granite and…
If you ask me what to do in North Carolina, I'll tell you that there's…
Tryon Palace encompasses 14 acres of gardens that offer nearly three…
That's right! There are more than 40,000 plants to see as you wind your…
Coker Arboretum provides garden interest in all seasons. In…
While at North Carolina's Outer Banks journey to the Elizabethan…
Nestled in one of the most beautiful natural settings in America, …
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden has been named one of the…