The Whim


The Whim boasts one of Newport’s most spectacular and celebrated waterside gardens. Originally the caretaker’s home for Edith Wharton’s Land’s End estate, these inimitable gardens were developed thanks to the vision of current owner Oatsie Charles and her well known passion for horticulture. Fittingly, the gardens have been documented in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens.

The storybook-like gardens of The Whim were conceived in response to the damage imposed by Hurricane Carol in 1954 that destroyed the greenhouses of Land’s End. Mrs. Charles enlisted Rhode Island architect Ray Thayer to design a garden around the greenhouse walls that survived the hurricane. These walls have become the foundation of the gardens and are now referred to as the Eagle Borders and the Gate Garden.

The Whim is truly an ever-changing horticultural collection, evolving each year as new projects develop. Every corner of The Whim presents varying garden and ocean views. The property’s continuing evolution is heavily impacted by the challenges of wind and saltwater in the New England seaside environment.

Among the many notable features of this property are 70- to 90-year-old Kwanzan cherry trees with unparalleled multi-stemmed structures, a gazebo-like spindle tree offering quiet protection from sun and rain, a climbing Evangeline rose famous for its reliable bloom every 4th of July, and many other landscape gems.

Jerica Michaud, head gardener and estate manager for The Whim, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Environmental Horticulture and Turfgrass Management, completing an internship at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Aboretum. A Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist, Jerica began working at The Whim in 2007 and enjoys managing and reinvigorating the landscape.

VISITING THE WHIM:  By appointment only.  Contact

Rendering by Casey Harrington

Rendering by Casey Harrington

The Whim Tree Inventory on OpenTreeMap
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The Newport Arboretum, New England's first citywide arboretum, is a special project of The Newport Tree Society of Newport, Rhode Island.