On The Garden Path: Hillwood Museum & Gardens

Museum and gardens offers visitors beauty and art

| May 2007

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    SERENE: The Japanese-style garden is beautiful and relaxing.
    B. Waibel/Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
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    LOVELY LANDSCAPE: The south side of the mansion overlooks the Lunar Lawn, which is adorned with azaleas in spring.
    B. Waibel/Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

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Hillwood Museum & Gardens, in Washington, D.C., is the former estate of cereal tycoon C.W. Post's daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post.

When Mrs. Post purchased the property in 1955, she decided her home would some day be a public museum and gardens. She created pleasure gardens, where guests could relax and enjoy the beauty.

The whole estate, including the mansion, which was originally designed in 1926, underwent renovation and redesign when Mrs. Post took ownership. Terraces and porches were added on all sides of the mansion, creating easy access to the outdoors, and she had the gardens designed to serve as outdoor extensions of the mansion's interiors.

The property includes 12 acres of formal gardens and 13 acres of native woodland. Mrs. Post hired landscape architects and designers to turn the gardens into outdoor 'rooms' enclosed by hedges or large plantings. Each garden contains statues, fountains and pools. The gardens offer magnificent color in spring and fall. More than 3,000 azaleas bloom from April through May, as well as hundreds of rhododendron, lilacs and spirea. Blooming redbud, cherry, dogwood, magnolia and crabapple trees provide splashes of color above visitors' heads, while primroses, pansies, tulips, daffodils and forget-me-nots draw attention to the ground.

Mrs. Post put fresh flowers throughout the mansion, in which she lived until she died in 1973. To provide an endless source of fresh flowers, she established a cutting garden and added greenhouses. Today, the greenhouses are home to her collection of more than 2,000 orchids, and fresh flowers still grace the rooms of the mansion.

Gardens at Hillwood

Rose garden - Mrs. Post wanted to create a rose garden where a wooden pergola draped with climbing roses was already established. The rose garden was built in a circular shape so it would join the curving pergola.

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