Thursday, July 7, 2016
Spring is always such a beautiful, yet fleeting, season in DC. It seemed to disappear even more quickly than usual this year, I think because we were traveling and because horrible weather (a month of rain) kept us from enjoying our usual outdoorsy activities. But in the middle of April, we had a weekend of perfect weather, so we took my mother to explore Hillwood Gardens for her birthday. The gardens were in full bloom, the sun was shining, and the sky was vivid blue.
Hillwood Gardens is an estate purchased by Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1955. Marjorie was the owner of Post Cereal, the founder of General Foods, and the richest woman in America. We toured the mansion, and it was ridiculous what money could buy - she collected Fabergé eggs, French and Russian art, and jewelry, had multiple estates, and a huge staff that kept everything running smoothly. I much preferred the gardens to the interior of the house (which was filled to the brim with all the expensive useless things that money could buy). But despite her tastes in decorating (so many portraits of herself!), Marjorie was a philanthropist, an excellent employer, a skilled businesswoman, and an animal lover.
But back to the gardens! I think of DC as such an urban space, and always find it surprising to stumble on gardens and wooded areas within the city. From the mansion's portico, there was actually a view across the lawn to the Washington Monument in the distance. Just imagine the garden parties you could have here. Someone get me a cocktail!
Most of my photos were taken in the Japanese garden because that was my favorite. But there was also a pet cemetery, a cutting garden, a French parterre, a putting green, a rose garden where Marjorie's ashes are located, and the lunar lawn which is watched over by Leo the stone lion and which offers that billion dollar view towards the Washington Monument. While I enjoy the gardens at the National Arboretum more, what's remarkable to me about Hillwood is that it was a privately owned residence. It's a lifestyle I just can't imagine living, though it was fun to pretend for a day.