Garden History & Design Accomplishments

We have had a wonderful run leading the Garden Club of Denver’s Garden History & Design committee! Together, we weathered Covid well by celebrating the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted with hikes through many of the Denver Mountain Parks trails designed by Olmsted’s son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. We received a behind-the-scenes garden tour of the historic Reed mansion on Circle Drive. We captured and documented Bea’s incredible garden in Cherry Hills Village and this treasure now resides in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens (AAG). And last but not least, we led seventeen Garden Club of Denver ladies to Washington, DC. There, we visited historic Mount Vernon, Home of George Washington, the amazing Dumbarton Oaks Gardens and two incredible private gardens in the historic Georgetown area.

Our most recent trip to Washington DC was spectacular! After touring the mansion and grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, we ventured to historic Georgetown and enjoyed a private VIP tour of Dumbarton Oaks led by Jonathan Kavalier, Director of Gardens & Grounds, and accompanied by Dean Norton, Mount Vernon’s Director of Horticulture & Livestock. Dumbarton Oaks was originally owned by Robert and Mildred Bliss in the late 1800s/early 1900s and designed by landscape architect, Beatricis Farrand. Traveling through Dumbarton Oaks Gardens “room to room,” Jonathan educated us on all the layers of thought, care and preservation he and his crew of 30 do to maintain the outdoor scapes in the gardens.

We explored from the American Beech tree which is 85 years old, to the 1922 designed rose garden, to the Lovers Lane pool, and other rooms where Farrand’s plantings have been maintained with the idea of sunrise color always in mind. Upon our departure from Dumbarton Oaks, we then were met by the chairs of Georgetown Garden Club’s Visiting Gardens who took us to see two incredible private gardens in historic Georgetown.

We were so impressed by what ingenuity and creativity can happen in such spectacular city spaces with water features, framed mirrors, steps and ornamental designs and pots. These gardens were coming alive in our presence!

-Sarah A. and Holley S.

Photo of Garden Club of Denver at entrance of Dumbarton Oaks. Photo courtesy of a Dumbarton Oaks Volunteer.
Photo of Dumbarton Oaks Garden. Photo by Holley S.








Photo of Robert and Mildred Bliss’ Tomb, first owners of Dumbarton Oaks. Photo by Holley S.