Archive for gardens to visit Washington DC

Hillwood Estate Gardens

Posted in garden to visit, landscape design with tags , , , , on July 23, 2018 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 The entrance to Hillwood Estate, featuring a 19th century sculpture of Eros, the Greek God of Love.

Michael and I traveled to the Washington DC area recently to view gardens and enjoy the city.  For photos and a description of our visit to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first president of the United States, click here.  The second day, we visited Hillwood Estate, the former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post.  It is located near Rock Creek Park in Washington DC and is easily accessible by car from downtown.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.


The Hillwood gardens are divided into a series of secluded garden rooms.

Marjorie Post (1887 to 1973) inherited the Postum Cereal Company at the age of 27. During her ownership, the company grew to become General Foods, and Post became one of the wealthiest women in the world.  She purchased Hillwood in 1955 to serve as her spring and fall residence—she also owned Mar-La-Go in Florida and a home in the Adirondacks—and to house her extensive art collection, including the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia.  The gardens surrounding the future museum were landscaped to provide a backdrop for her extensive and lavish entertaining.


The French parterre garden: it is interesting that this style of garden is a prominent element of both Hillwood and Mt. Vernon.  The sculpture is Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.

The estate comprises 25 acres with woodland, accessed by meandering paths, surrounding the 13 acres of formal gardens.  The formal gardens extend out from the house and patios in a series of secluded garden rooms, including a French parterre, rose garden, putting green, Japanese-style garden, pet cemetery, and cutting garden, among others.  Each “room” is unique and hidden from view by hedges and other taller plantings.  There is a surprise around every corner.  Enjoy!


Walls of English ivy divide the French parterre garden from the rose garden.  The shape of the boxwood in the four sections of the parterre intentionally mirrors decorations inside the adjacent drawing room.


The garden is filled with quirky and unusual sculptures and ornaments:  here, a marble sphinx with winged cherubs on her back, one of a pair at the terrace entrance.



.Marjorie Post added this bay window to her second floor bedroom suite so she could overlook her gardens while working in her office.


Japanese holly and viburnum enclose the nine-hole putting green.


These vintage bright blue chairs appeared through out the garden.


a statue at the entrance of the pet cemetery


The Japanese-style garden combines Japanese and American elements.

.The multi-level, Japanese-style garden includes small ponds and streams with stepping stone paths as well as bridges, boulders, and traditional Japanese sculptures and pagodas.

.The very large and well-organized cutting garden supplies flowers for the house, which we did not visit.  Marjorie Post stipulated that on her death Hillwood would be opened to the public as a museum and fresh flowers would be used to adorn the house.


A view across the cutting garden to the ornate greenhouse.


For more information about Hillwood and its gardens, click here.


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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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