I love gardens. Always have- probably always will. While I was on vacation in Arlington, Virginia five weeks ago. I got to go and explore historic mansions (I mean HELLO! Gorgeous) to accompany those beautiful homes the owners always accompanied it with beautiful and grand gardens.
I love stepping back into history in that kind of way- I’ve always felt like I was getting to walk where these people walked-right into their sanctuary. I think I’ve always had a love for being outside among the trees and flowers. I remember being a kid and playing under the shade of a beautiful tree and playing “hidden garden” in the lilac bushes.
I have no idea why rich people back in the day had big gardens and homes. But I find it amazing. My friend Marie and I were awestruck as we walked around the beautiful Dumbarton Oaks House and Garden in Georgetown, VA. As I was walking around them I instantly felt transported back into a simpler time. Felt like Jane Austen’s heroine- Elizabeth Bennett come to life! My heart was doing somersaults and there was a smile on my face for hours!
“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon
verdure is the most perfect refreshment” -Jane Austen
I mean can we just talk about how amazing this building looks? Can you believe in years gone by that this was a private resident? That these walls have seen families and dance parties and that this was someone’s home away from home. After a long day they came home to this!? Marie and I were joking back and forth- you have the East wing I have the west wing- perfect! As I explored this place more and more- I completely forgot I was almost smacked in the city. Not even a couple hours away was the hustle and bustle of traffic and people going to and from work. Yet- I felt so hidden away and relaxed.
Dumbarton Oaks was Robert and Mildred Bliss’s country home in the now historical Georgetown District. In 1920 it was a “old fashioned home” standing in a neglected area of town. Just itching to become Mildred’s paradise. The duo bought the fifty-three-acre property.
A year later Mildred and landscape gardener- Beatrix Farrand went to work to design the garden- from where the benches should go to where the plots of different types of gardens should be planted every little detail was carefully handled by the duo.
”At Dumbarton Oaks you have created something very beautiful, very special both in the garden and inside the house. It will remain a monument to your taste, knowledge and understanding—a delight to all who visit it and a great resource to those who are fortunate enough to work there.”Robert Bliss to Mildred Bliss, 1940
Since then other architects have worked on the gardens to improve the different functions. For more history on the beautiful gardens here. For a moment in a day I got to forget about being a twenty three year old in the twenty first century surrounded by the modern conveniences. I got to take my time and stroll through the rose gardens and smell every single one- I got to sit by the Lover’s Lane Pool.
Marie and I were saying over and over- how the heck was this someone’s house!? Could you imagine you come home from work trying to find where someone is!? I now understand why people needed slaves! I was telling Marie- I have no idea where in this garden would be “my” spot. You know the one spot you go to. To help distress- to unwind to relax- to have a cup of tea and cuddle up reading Pride and Prejudice for the hundredth time. I’m sure my family all thought I was nuts. I was like a little kid in a candy shop- smiling from ear to ear as we explored a whole other section- just as beautiful as the last. Marie even joked with my family that they lost me for a couple of hours.
I couldn’t help it! I was and still am so obsessed! I already want to go back- can you even imagine how it would look like in bloom! Oh my goodness! I would highly recommend! I firmly believe we all have a little kid still in us who love getting lost in trees and smelling the flowers and chasing waterfalls. I don’t thinking loosing your imaginations is a good thing. I was so flabbergasted by the beauty that was surrounding me I was having a hard time processing just how amazing this moment of time was! I will say wear comfortable shoes and just have fun! Allow yourself to get lost in time gone by- and enjoy the fruit of their labor. I can’t wait to plan my next trip. But for now- I will go off in make believe land to Pemberley where I can be Elizabeth Bennett all over again.
Thanks Dumbarton Oaks- for SUCH a swell time! Thanks for becoming my new happy place! You will always hold a special moment in my heart.