Preservation Society gardener Eugene Platt and Chief Horticulturist Dan Christina plant 26 beech tree saplings in the new tree nursery at Green Animals Topiary Garden.

The Preservation Society of Newport County has established a beech tree nursery on the grounds of Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, making an investment to ensure the future of the iconic landscapes of the Newport Mansions.

Magnificent beech trees imported from Europe in the late 19th century dominate the grounds of many of Newport’s historic properties.  But those trees have begun reaching the end of their natural lives, and many significant trees have been lost in recent years.

To ensure that trees that die can be replaced in kind,  the Preservation Society’s grounds department recently planted 26 young beech trees at Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth.  There, the 3-4 year old trees will be nurtured until they are mature enough to be used as replacements for older trees that are lost to age, disease or storms.  According to grounds director Jeff Curtis, it will be at least five years before any of the new trees are transplanted. The saplings were shipped from Oregon and include four varieties of beeches.

“Our mission is not simply to preserve bricks and mortar, but landscapes and social history too,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO & Executive Director of the Preservation Society. “Our goal is to keep the gardens and grounds of the Newport Mansions looking as much as possible – allowing for the passage of time – the way they were envisioned by the original landscapers and gardeners.”

The Preservation Society has an existing tree nursery behind The Breakers Greenhouse on Bateman Avenue in Newport which includes a variety of other tree species, including rare Turkish Oaks grown from acorns taken from the trees at Chateau-sur-Mer.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history.  Its 11 historic properties–seven of them National Historic Landmarks–span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.