of wisteria & tulips at dumbarton oaks gardens

Saturday, May 3: In 1921, Mildred Bliss, American art collector, philanthropist and one of the co-founders of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, chose Beatrix Farrand to design the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks.  The two women developed a friendship that spanned 30 years, while collaborating on every aspect of the gardens’ design.  Both women were well-traveled and well read, and they shared a knowledge of European gardens and garden traditions.

the house facing the gardens
the house facing the gardens

Approaching the house from the entrance gate to the gardens, the Orangery, built in 1810, is covered within by a large creeping fig planted in 1860.  The outside of the Orangery is draped with fragrant wisteria.

Inside the Orangery
Inside the Orangery
Inside the Orangery
Inside the Orangery
wisteria-draped Orangery
wisteria-draped Orangery
the Orangery and its wisteria
the Orangery and its wisteria
Orangery and wisteria
Orangery and wisteria

Close to the house, Farrand created intimate entertaining spaces, enclosed by walls and carefully selected plantings, according to a Dumbarton Oaks brochure.  She designed a series of terraces, framing views of the terraces below to enhance the sense of anticipation and flow.

wall bordering one of the terraces
wall bordering one of the terraces

One of the first views I can see when I walk out of the Orangery is the Swimming Pool and the Loggia’s tile mosaic of Diana and Actaeon.  At the end of the Loggia, a path leads upwards through the boxwood to the Beech Terrace and Orangery.

Azaleas along the Swimming Pool
Azaleas along the Swimming Pool
Loggia alongside the Swimming Pool
Loggia along the Swimming Pool
Mosaic of Diana
Mosaic of Diana
Mosaic detail
Mosaic detail
Mosaic of Actaeon
Mosaic of Actaeon
View to the Swimming Pool from the Loggia
View to the Swimming Pool from the Loggia

The Pebble Garden is a pattern of colored Mexican pebbles designed in the 1960s. The Bliss family crest and motto are incorporated into the design.  The arbor around the Pebble Garden is today covered in fragrant wisteria.

the Pebble Garden
the Pebble Garden
the arbor in the Pebble Garden
the arbor in the Pebble Garden
the Pebble Garden
the Pebble Garden
wisteria along the Pebble Garden
wisteria along the Pebble Garden
Wisteria
Wisteria

The Urn Terrace is curves of brick and ivy with a pebble mosaic.

Urn Terrace
Urn Terrace

The Rose Garden is the largest of the terraces. Over fifty varieties of nearly a thousand roses are planted here.  The Blisses’ ashes are interred behind an inscribed sandstone slab in the west wall.

View of the Rose Garden from the Urn Terrace
View of the Rose Garden from the Urn Terrace

The Ellipse is made of a double row of American hornbeams clipped into an aerial hedge surrounding a 17th century Provencal fountain.

The Ellipse
The Ellipse
Provencal fountain
Provencal fountain

A walkway leading to the cutting garden has blooming trees offering shade from today’s heat.

shade and blossoms
shade and blossoms

The Cutting Garden is all about tulips today.

border to the Cutting Garden
border to the Cutting Garden
tulips in the Cutting Garden
tulips in the Cutting Garden
pretty tulips
pretty tulips
more tulips
more tulips
Cutting garden
Cutting garden
Cutting garden
Cutting garden

The English-style herbaceous borders  are planted seasonally with tulips, annuals, perennials and chrysanthemums.  Today, tulips are the stars.

The Fountain Terrace has two lead fountains within a grass plat bordered by flowers: tulips in spring, perennials and annuals in summer, and chrysanthemums in fall.

Fountain Terrace
Fountain Terrace
Fountain Terrace
Fountain Terrace
Purple flower in the Fountain Garden
Purple flower in the Fountain Garden
View of Arbor Terrace from Fountain Terrace
View of Arbor Terrace from Fountain Terrace
View of Arbor Terrace from Fountain Terrace
View of Arbor Terrace from Fountain Terrace

The Arbor Terrace is named after the wisteria-covered arbor.  Formerly an herb garden, the paved terrace is a pot garden in summer with tubs of gardenias, lantana, and citrus.  An aerial hedge of Kieffer pears partially encloses the terrace.

Arbor Terrace
Arbor Terrace
Arbor Terrace, looking away from the arbor
Arbor Terrace, looking away from the arbor

It’s a fantastic time of year to explore gardens in northern Virginia before the onslaught of a hot and humid summer. 🙂

 

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27 thoughts on “of wisteria & tulips at dumbarton oaks gardens

  1. What a fantastic garden, my kind of place and I am so lucky to have you to take me there. I can practically smell that wisteria 😀
    Jude xx

  2. Wow, Cathy, what a gorgeous place. I have NO idea how to pick my favorite photo. I really did love the pebble garden–but, gosh, that’s only one among many. Hope your week is going well, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! I loved all the gardens, but the wisteria, with that fragrance, was the best! The week is improving, especially after today’s rain, now that the sun has come out. 🙂

    1. You’re so right, Eileen. I wish spring and fall would stay forever; both are my favorite seasons. Summer here is too hot and humid. Winter I can bear too. But spring and fall in Virginia, both glorious!

  3. What a glorious place, Cathy! Isn’t wisteria the most magical thing? I love that photo of the Provencal fountain with the face just peeking through the plants, and your tulip shots are fabulous! 🙂

  4. Absolutely breathtaking. Wisteria, tulips and lush ivy make for a lovely setting and you captured it. I chuckled at pot garden. Of course, I knew which one you meant. 🙂

  5. Absolutely gorgeous shots Cathy!! Hard to pick a favourite, but the Orangerie with its wisteria covered walls would be my pick if pushed. Have been busy, and just about catching up. Hope all is well with you.:-)

    1. Thanks so much, Madhu. And thanks for dropping by. I’ve missed my blogging community and need to catch up myself, or just start anew where I can. It’s been a tough four months, with no results job-wise but at least my novel is finished (until an editor gets hold of it!) I hope to get back to blogging and visiting soon. 🙂

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