Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Island garden party

Island garden party

Island garden party. England was considered the land for garden parties, with its turf of velvet softness, its flowing lime trees, splendid old oaks, and its sculptured landscape gardening. It was difficult to locate places in America which offered the clipped-box avenues, the arcades of blossoming rose vines, the finely kept and perfect gravel walks, or, better still, the old-fashioned gardens overflowing with flowers.But there were some locations in America with a green lawn, a few trees, and (with the prospect of a sunny day) would be perfect for a garden party. Garden parties were held at the grandest of Newport, Rhode Island’s mansions, at suburban “summer cottages,” and at the more local city outdoor parks. In the neighborhood of New York, very charming garden parties were given at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, at the headquarters of the officers of marines, and at the picturesque Governor's Island. The garden party was almost deemed a necessity up the Hudson River and all along the coast of Long Island during the summer months. The owner of a fine summer place was expected to allow those who must stay in the city at least one sniff of his roses and newly mown grass.

Contemporary magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar and The Ladies Home Journal, often reported on the extravagant society garden parties, or instructed on the preparations to having a successful event at a summer house. At the elite summer estates, such events were arranged weeks beforehand, and if the weather was bad, the entertainment took place indoors in their expansive mansions.

Typically the hostess sent out her invitations a fortnight in advance. For a garden party given in a suburban place where people were expected to arrive by carriage or other public means of conveyance, the invitations would have a card enclosed with the directions plainly given as to the hours of trains, which train or boat to take, and any other directions which were necessary for the guests. These invitations were engraved and printed on a sheet of notepaper—which was perfectly plain, or bore the family crest in watermark only—and would read:

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