for classical gardens to childhood books. The
Vietnam War was a more indirect influence. “I
was an officer in Special Forces,” he says.
“Afterward, studying English gardens was my
healing force.” There are references to art history and to Fleming’s life at every turn.
The “New American Renaissance Water
Garden” to the south of the house is modeled
on Italy’s Villa Lante. It is filled with personal
aspects that are fanciful and surprising. The foun-
tain flows from a statue of the goddess Pomona
modeled after one of Fleming’s daughters, and
water spouts from the mouth of a sculpture that
is a replica of Fleming’s own head.
in the water garden, inspired by 16th-century
Villa Lante in Italy, sculptor Mark Mennin
modeled the statue of Roman goddess Pomona
on Fleming’s daughter. A re-imagined cupola of a
McIntire church (bottom) sits by what Fleming
describes as the “Oriental fantasy” garden.
The garden at Bellevue House is one of many
on Newport’s Secret Garden Tour, “On and Off
the Avenue,” September 9–11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets, $25, at Newport Visitor’s Center, 23 America’s Cup Ave., or Kingscote Mansion, 253 Bellevue
Ave., or $20 in advance from
(left, top) was
the model for
one of many
bottom) in his
“The head of the father
exudes energy across time
and space to the children,”
Fleming explained at the
2008 National Trust
annual conference. The rill
of water concludes in “The
Children’s Fountain” (not
shown) where blank spaces
are ready for the next
generation to inscribe.