Yesterday, I finished reading Meryl Gordon’s Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend. The biography covers the extraordinarily privileged life of the American heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, who died at the age of 103 in 2014. Although she is known for her extensive art collection, her stylish fashions, and beautifully decorated homes, she seemed most interested in horticulture. Mellon always gardened, even as a young girl, and was intensely interested in botany. Although she had no formal training in horticulture, throughout her long life she cultivated many beautiful gardens; most notably, she redesigned the Rose Garden at the White House at President Kennedy’s request (she was a close friend of Mrs. Kennedy). She also designed extensive gardens at her many homes and assembled an extensive collection of rare horticulture books.
Today’s post provides a look at some of the lovely gardens that Mellon designed.
The White House Rose Garden as it appeared upon completion of its redesign by Bunny Mellon in 1962:
The Bunny Mellon-designed Rose Garden’s style is formal and French-inspired, with a central lawn bordered by flower beds. Mellon included American crabapple trees, little-leaf linden trees, and thyme hedges. Although roses are the most prevalent flower in the garden, many other varieties of flowers were included, so there is color throughout the the year from season to season.
Young John Kennedy, Jr. in the garden in the spring of 1963:
Mrs. Kennedy also asked Mellon to design an East Garden at the White House, which she completed in 1965 and is named the Jaqueline Kennedy Garden:
Mellon’s most extensive personal gardens were at Oak Springs Farm, her 4,000 acre estate in Upperville, Virginia, and reflect the French-inspired style that she favored.
Oak Springs Farm:
Beautiful farmland on Bunny Mellon’s Oak Springs Farm estate:
The vegetable gardens:
A pergola of crabapple trees that leads to a greenhouse:
A garden path:
Bunny Mellon in the 1980s at Oak Springs Farm, tending her many topiaries in a greenhouse:
In one of her greenhouses, Mellon had artist Fernard Renard paint trompe l’oeil murals:
The Mellon biography quotes her as saying, when describing her vision for Oak Springs Farm, “Nothing should stand out. It all should give the feeling of calm. When you go away, you should remember only the peace.”
What a lovely thought. I think Mellon succeeded in achieving her vision, don’t you?