Green Animals Topiary Gardens, Portsmouth

The Green Animals Topiary Garden, located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. The 7acre estate overlooks the Narragansett Bay. It contains a large collection of topiaries including eighty sculptured trees. Favorites include teddy bears, a camel, a giraffe, an ostrich, an elephant and two bears made from sculptured California privet, yew, and English boxwood. There are also pineapples, a unicorn, a reindeer, a dog and spot a horse with his rider. There are over 35 formal flowerbeds, geometric pathways, rose arbor, grape arbor, fruit trees, and vegetable and herb gardens. A greenhouse is used extensively to provide seedlings used on the estate. The 1859 Victorian Brayton house museum contains a small display of vintage kids toy and the original family furnishings. Ribbons for prize-winning dahlias and vegetables, dating from about 1915, line the walls of the gift shop. The Preservation Society of Newport County maintains it.
The small country estate in Portsmouth was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton (1844–1939), He was the treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts and he was looking for a country summer retreat. It consisted of 7acre of land, a white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, a pasture and a vegetable garden. The main Victorian home looked out on Narragansett Bay.
It was Gardener Joseph Carreiro, superintendent of the property from 1905 to 1945 who slowly transformed it into a museum of living sculpture. Carreiro was recruited to design and maintain ornamental and edible gardens as part of a self-sufficient estate. Besides planting fruit trees, perennial beds, herb and vegetable gardens, Carreiro experimented with some fast-growing shrubs to unique forms. The first topiaries were started in the estate's greenhouse in 1912 and later moved.
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Green Animals Topiary Gardens Reviews
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213 reviews
  • Visited with an out of town friend. I was able to go for free as a Newport resident, but my friend thought it was a little overpriced. The gardens are very nice and it was an enjoyable trip, but unles...  more »
  • We took this tour as part of our Newport Preservation Society Membership ticket. $45 and we entered all 10 of their properties including the Mansions and this wonderful Topiary Garden. In addition to ...  more »
  • This is one of my favorite places to see when I visit Rhode Island. The gardens are meticulously maintained, the variety of plants and flowers is incredible, and the most magnificent Copper Beech I’ve ever seen is on the property. While I haven’t toured the house on site, the gardens are where it’s at for me. Highly recommend!
  • Green Animals is the place to be! Perfect day too. Try to time your day to tour the main house. Tours are 3x daily. Wonderful topiaries, lovely succulent plants, tomatoes, quaint gift shop. Walk along the water and enjoy the sprawling grounds. Perfect day for all ages.

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