Botanica Atlanta | Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance


Atlanta Garden Design

A (Second) Visit to Dumbarton Oaks

Posted by Author on May 2, 2013 at 11:25 PM


Really, it was not all that long ago that I first visited Dumbarton Oaks in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. My first visit, however, made in the summer of 2006, occurred early enough in my design training that I did not know how foolish it would be to not bring a camera along.


Over the years since, the inspiring elements that I observed in just one day in the estate's gardens have come bubbling up from my memory time and time again; detail after detail and scene after scene. Sited on a dramatic hillside, one that might have proven too challenging to some landscape designers, this garden was adeptly and seamlessly woven into the natural woodland slopes by landscape architect Beatrix Jones Farrand. The estate, which is now home to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, a satellite institute of Harvard University, is kept in pristine condition. From its architecture to its plantings to its carefully planned viewsheds, Dumbarton Oaks is impeccably preserved and maintained but done so in a way that allows the materials -- stone, brick, and wood -- to show the rich character that comes only with age.

Images by Sam Valentine

Moving through the various, distinct garden rooms and walking down the shady allées and shrub-lined walks is an experience that I found surprisingly sensory. As a visitor descends from the ficus-covered orangery and the main house's sunlit terraces, he or she experiences shifting environments that range from full sun exposure to intensely cool shade. Beneath a visitor's feet, Dumbarton Oaks' groundplane cycles through soft turf surfaces, cut stone, pebble mosaics, and complex brick patterning. At any given moment, to the left and right, above and ahead, a visitor is presented with a meticulously maintained composition of verdant groundcovers, blooming bulbs, vines, and perennials, and stately, ancient trees.


Images by Sam Valentine


Much in the same way that there is simply too much ground to cover in just one day at Dumbarton Oaks, it is impossible to try to describe my visit in one blog alone. You can expect future posts to cover a breadth of topics, including Farrand's masterfully executed transition from architecture to wilderness as well as the garden's inventive, temporary, and contemporary art installations.


Images by Sam Valentine


If you are reading this blog, it is fair to assume that you are both a lover and a student of gardens, and if that is in fact the case, you have most likely read or at least heard about this legendary American landscape. But if you have not yet visited Dumbarton, my best advice is to waste no time in planning your trip. And when you get there, do your best to be a 'sponge,' soaking up such things as the careful siting of outdoor spaces, the clever strategies for steep slopes, the finely crafted details, and the thoughtfully selected plant material.


On a cool, crisp, but sunny Saturday last weekend, I was able to make a second trip to Dumbarton Oaks, and after years of recalling the garden's inspiring elements by memory alone, this time I was wise enough to bring my camera. From the showy, intricately carved stone ornaments to the naturally picturesque woodlands, it was tough to find even a speck of the garden that did not seem to have been conscientiously considered and gracefully designed. As I moved through such aptly named spaces as the Pebble Garden, the Ellipse, Forsythia Dell, Prunus Walk, and Lovers' Lane Pool, I only photographed the features and moments that struck me as inspiring. I did not shoot recklessly, but I did want to capture those elements that I found especially well crafted, dramatically sited, or otherwise beautiful. When I got home I realized that, in just about two hours I had made up for years of lost time: I had taken over four-hundred photographs.


Images by Sam Valentine


Categories: Garden History, Landscape Design, Art & Inspiration

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In


Reply Jake Day
11:27 AM on May 8, 2013 
Reply Author
3:42 PM on May 9, 2013 
Jake Day says...
Thanks, Jake! It's easy to photograph an elegant landscape on such a perfect day!
Reply Intarry
11:30 PM on May 11, 2022 
Ndfvuh 247 Drugs Shop Reviews
url= says...
where can i buy cialis on line
Kutxqw Propecia Customer Reviews Peqtos Cialis Cheap Antibiotics Amoxicillin Hgaaeq - Cialis Iulktm
Reply payorma
10:22 PM on July 26, 2022 
Universaldrugservices cialis generic tadalafil
Reply lyncAgecy
6:30 AM on August 15, 2022 
Rx Purple Pharmacy Mexico Price List ivermectin price Viagra Opinioni
Reply dyessab
8:03 PM on September 1, 2022 
2626 Ramezani, M cialis generic 5mg
Reply Occadiete
1:05 AM on September 4, 2022 
want to buy priligy in pakistan Recent MI within 90 days or stroke within last 6 months , hypotension
Reply vemsimaps
11:27 PM on September 5, 2022 
best place to buy cialis online forum For these men, the constant association of swallowing a pill and sexual relations, inherent in using on-demand PDE5 inhibitors, could even be a source of psychological and behavioral distress
Reply easeraGam
7:57 AM on September 8, 2022 
In addition to the IIEF and the SEP, many tadalafil trials report a global overall assessment as provided by the patient, known as a Global Assessment Question GAQ best place to buy cialis online reviews medicines called HIVprotease inhibitors, such as ritonavir Norvir , indinavir sulfate Crixivan , saquinavir Fortovase or Invirase or atazanavir sulfate Reyataz some types of oralantifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole Nizoral , and itraconazole Sporanox some types of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin Biaxin , telithromycin Ketek , or erythromycin other medicines that treat high blood pressure other medicines or treatments for ED
Reply Feentutty
1:51 AM on September 14, 2022 
PMC free article PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar. side effects for tamoxifen
Reply finownSit
5:43 PM on September 17, 2022 
Wendie Trubow, M. doxycycline canada no script Soy and oat milk are very popular in European countries.
Reply suilfum
5:32 PM on October 8, 2022 
does lasix make you tired The MCF 7N variant line was used for all studies conducted in this publication
Reply Dossegree
7:18 AM on October 29, 2022 
AHRQ had no role in study selection, quality assessment, or synthesis stromectol cream
Reply arcalge
7:44 AM on November 9, 2022 
0 was used as the cutoff value to discriminate between a high PLR 160 viagra priligy Kashiwagi S, Onoda N, Asano Y, Noda S, Kawajiri H, Takashima T, Ishikawa T, Hirakawa K
Reply awainia
4:11 PM on November 10, 2022 
They affect the body by attaching to estrogen receptors ocular side effects of tamoxifen
Reply Eloneycle
1:53 PM on November 13, 2022 
2009 Nov; 19 8 1347 52 prednisone and doxycycline
Reply Appaliaks
7:18 PM on November 19, 2022 
Natalie nSoHBGtKOaQMPg 6 27 2022 over the counter lasix Nitrogen mustards induce a wide spectrum of mutations, including base substitutions at both GC and AT base pairs, deletions, and chromosomal rearrangements Povirk and Shuker 1994
Reply arourgy
9:54 PM on November 19, 2022 
stromectol ebay While the modSMC clusters cosegregated, over 500 genes were differentially expressed within this cluster between models
Reply enronse
1:24 PM on November 22, 2022 
long term use of clomid in males The information I was reading I believe came from this site www
Reply unfadly
1:00 AM on December 12, 2022 
Affiliation Center for Vascular Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT, United States of America ivermectin rosacea We found that if TGF ?? signaling is ablated in this cell population, cardiac fibrosis is significantly blunted, with a concomitant preservation of cardiac function and architecture