Flower Magazine

MAY-JUN 2019

Browse "flower" to learn techniques from established and up-and-coming designers, be inspired by the floral decor of weddings, galas, and flower and garden shows, and infuse your lifestyle with chic floral fashion and home decor.

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40 | M AY/J U N E 2 0 1 9 FRESH STYLE I garden BELOW AND BOTTOM: The former tennis court was transformed into a pebble garden by Farrand's protégé, Ruth Havey. Mexican stones form the rocaille mosaic pattern, while the wisteria-draped walls and stone benches were part of Farrand's original design. RIGHT: In the herbaceous border, inspired by the work of Gertrude Jekyll, the beds are a mix of perennials and annuals in pastel shades framed by yew hedges. her other projects have been lost over time." In 1920, Mildred and her husband, Robert Woods Bliss—a Foreign Service Officer who served in a number of posts in Europe and ultimately as ambassador to Argentina—purchased Dumbarton as their Stateside residence and embarked on a meticulous renovation and expansion of the house, while engaging Farrand to create a series of gardens on the 54-acre property. As the Blisses often needed to oversee the endeavor from afar, correspondence between Mildred and Farrand flowed prolifically across the Atlantic, carrying plans for everything from plant specimens to designs for benches and urns. Those letters (now housed in Dumbarton's archives) speak to the close relationship the women forged, so much so that they referred to each other as "gardening twins." The Blisses, who were also passionate collectors and patrons of the arts, were primarily at home in spring and fall; thus the gardens were designed to be particularly enjoyed during those seasons, although with plenty of areas of interest year-round. A frequent entertainer, Mildred specified that she wanted the formal garden terrace closest to the house to feature only green with white flowers, so as not to clash with the ladies' couture. However, any guest adventurous enough to wander farther afield might happen upon a rose garden awash in pinks and salmons, a hillside of cherry trees in riotous bloom, or a 1-acre dell of yellow forsythia spilling over like a waterfall. Today, visitors are more likely to have on walking shoes suitable for exploring. In 1940, the Blisses gifted the house and 16 ½ acres of the upper gardens to Harvard University, Robert's alma mater. It now serves as a museum, research center, and garden open to the public. Kavalier encourages people to let their feet be their guide. "Farrand was masterful at conceal and reveal," he says. "It's a garden full of surprises—you'll come around a blind corner or down a small walkway, and then be struck with a moment of awe, whether it's an allée, an herbaceous flower border, or a charming fountain. And there are always so many quieter nooks and crannies to discover." Farrand was masterful at conceal and reveal. It's a garden full of surprises. —JONATHAN KAVALIER, DIRECTOR OF GARDENS AND GROUNDS FOR DUMBARTON OAKS For more information, see Sources, page 86 PHOTOS (TOP TO BOTTOM): JOE MILLS/DUMBARTON OAKS, CHARLES KOGOD/GETTY IMAGES, AND CHRIS PARKER/GETTY IMAGES

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