Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year in Review / The Ones That Got Left Out

As it is the last day of the year, I thought it appropriate to post a review of sorts. I considered focusing on highlights from my own garden but then I remembered the various wonderful gardens I visited over the course of the year that had never actually made it onto the blog, primarily because I did not get around to writing about them at the time. So here they are, in chronological order, primarily in pictures without much of a write-up, but hopefully still pretty and inspiring.

Serre de la Madone, Menton, France (March 2015)

Located in the warmest, most Mediterranean corner of France in the exceedingly lovely Côte d'Azur town of Menton, Serre de la Madone was the winter home of Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958), the American-British plantsman who created the famous Hidcote Manor Garden in the United Kingdom. Unlike the latter, which has been in the care of the National Trust since 1947, Serre de la Madone had a number of owners and experienced varying levels of garden maintenance after between Johnston's death and the 1999 acquisition of the property by the Conservatoire du Littoral. Restoration work has been done from 2008 onward, but the place retains an overgrown, enchanted feel.

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, USA (June 2015)

Dumbarton Oaks, the historic estate of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC, is now owned by Harvard University and is home to a museum, a library and research center focusing on Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and garden and landscape studies, and extensive, immaculately maintained gardens. The latter were designed by Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959), one of the most famous and prolific of early American landscape architects. A number of terraces and garden rooms oscillating in style between Italianate and English Arts and Crafts spill down the hillside below the manor house in a complex layout that takes much longer to explore than one would initially think. Not that one would want to leave quickly; I visited on a sweltering afternoon and yet found many a perfect spot to sit and dream under the shady pergolas and in the many secluded corners.

The Gardens at Elm Bank, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA (September 2015)

The Gardens at Elm Bank in the tony Boston suburb of Wellesley - home to the prestigious women's college of the same name - belong to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and consist of a serious of formal gardens as well as sprawling meadows and woodlands along the Charles River. They are popular for weddings, and this is actually what brought me there as the best of significant others - promoted this summer to best of fiancés - and I were scouting for wedding venues. We eventually settled on a different location for our nuptials, but not because the gardens are lacking in loveliness. Only the Manor House at one end of the Italianate Garden is in dire need of renovation, which I hope the Massachusetts Horticultural Society will be able to undertake soon. Other than that, this is a very nice local public garden and horticultural resource, and in retrospect I am surprised it took me so long to discover it.

If nothing else, I am ending 2015 with a lot of pretty pictures. Here is to hoping that the next year will be the best one yet. Happy New Year Everyone!


  1. Happy New Year! And thanks for sharing your photos of these two gardens. I lived in Massachusetts for 50+ years, and never went to the Gardens at Elm Bank. This is the first I've heard of it.

    1. Happy New Year to you, too! I really do think they do not publicize the Elm Bank gardens very much. A friend of mine from Wellesley grew up playing soccer on the pitches right outside the gardens and had no idea what was inside!

  2. happy 2016! thank you for the lovely pictures - I live in the Washington DC metro area now and am determined to visit Dumbarton oaks after reading through your post


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