Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Procession of Spring: Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks gardens are one of Washington’s most elegant gems and one of America's great gardens. Begun in 1922 by owner Mildred Bliss and the noted landscape designer Beatrix Farrand, they consist of a series of garden rooms cascading down a hillside, surrounded by softer, more informal plantings. It’s a marvelous experience to visit, ripe with surprises, vistas, splashes of color and ornament, intimate benches whereon to linger. It’s very romantic! But was also a delight with my two youngest sons on a recent spring day...

Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata), east lawn, south of the orangery

Of this tree, Beatrix Farrand wrote, “This... has been christened ‘The Bride’, as when it is in full bloom in early April its loveliness is an enchantment. This tree should be preserved as long as it can be made to thrive and bloom well, and when its days are over it should be replaced by another as nearly like it as possible, as the sight of the white tree as seen from the R Street entrance gateway and as looked down upon from the orangery is one of the real horticultural events of the Dumbarton season.”

from Beatrix Farrand's Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks. Washington, DC, Trustees for Harvard University, 1980.

Mélisande’s Allée, blanketed in blue scilla

Quod Severis Metes
As you sew, so shall you reap

The motto favored by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, that appears everywhere at Dumbarton Oaks. Good point!

To read more about the gardens and learn about visiting, click here.

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