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History of

Green Animals Topiary Garden

Discover the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States, dating to the early 20th century.

A lion, giraffe & bears … oh, my! Plus, thousands of flowers in bloom!

Let your imagination run wild at Green Animals Topiary Garden! Bring a picnic basket and enjoy a day of fun romping in the menagerie at this lush country estate. Can you spy the camel? Sneak a peek at the unicorn, but watch out for bears! And don’t worry, the dog won’t bite! Snap a selfie with your favorite!

Green Animals, the oldest topiary garden in the nation, also boasts more than 35 formal flowerbeds, geometric pathways, arbors, fruit trees, and vegetable and herb gardens. There truly is something for everyone at Green Animals.

Thirty-seven thousand tulips contribute a rainbow of colors during the early spring. Late-spring perennials like columbine, lupine and coral bells give way to summer annuals, hydrangeas, daylilies and countless more unique specimens. In the fall, highlights include late-blooming mums, asters, daisies, dahlias and more.


This small country estate was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton (1844-1939), Treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company in Fall River, Massachusetts. It consisted of seven acres of land, with a white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, a pasture and a vegetable garden. Gardener Joseph Carreiro, superintendent of the property from 1905 to 1945, and his son-in-law, George Mendonca, superintendent until 1985, were responsible for creating the topiaries.

Carreiro was recruited to design and maintain ornamental and edible gardens as part of a self-sufficient estate. Besides planting fruit trees, perennial beds and vegetable gardens, he experimented with trimming some fast-growing shrubs into unique forms. The first topiaries were started in the estate’s greenhouse in 1912 and later moved.

Mr. Brayton’s daughter, Alice, gave the estate its name because of the profusion of “green animals.” She made it her permanent residence in 1939. Miss Brayton was an avid gardener and loved to entertain. She hosted a party for Jacqueline Bouvier (Kennedy) in her debut season and for years entertained young Caroline and John Kennedy Jr. at parties to celebrate the harvest. She also welcomed the Eisenhower family when they were in Newport, and regularly allowed the public to enjoy the grounds. Upon her death in 1972, at the age of 94, Miss Brayton left Green Animals to The Preservation Society of Newport County. Today, Green Animals remains as a rare example of a self-sufficient estate combining formal topiaries, vegetable and herb gardens, orchards and a Victorian house overlooking Narragansett Bay.

Brayton family house is closed to the public.

  • Original Builder

    Thomas E. Brayton

  • Gardener

    Joseph Carreiro, superintendent of the property from 1905 to 1945, George Mendonca, superintendent until 1985

  • Ownership transferred to the Preservation Society


Guide to the Garden

Visit Green Animals Topiary Garden

Home to more than 80 topiary animals and other figures for more than a century, Green Animals also blazes with colorful flowers from May until October. The 7-acre property overlooks Narragansett Bay.

Visit Green Animals Topiary Garden

Additional Visitor Info

Partners in Preservation

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