Landscape Literacy

Day Trip Series: Hillwood House

With the warm weather starting to roll in, now is a great time to start planning spring road trips! Plenty of flowers will be blooming shortly, and there are few better ways to enjoy the sunshine than visiting local gardens. The Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens was bought in 1955 by Marjorie Merriweather Post and opened to the public in 1977. Nestled in the hills of Northwest D.C., Hillwood greets visitors from all around the world. Whether you take a relaxing stroll or a full tour, there are many beautiful gardens to enjoy.

The Rose Garden was chosen by Marjorie’s daughters as her final resting place. In 1956, landscape architect Perry Wheeler adapted this formal and round space, which features a pergola and stone steps that lead to a putting green. Four rose beds are featured, each planted with a single cultivar of floribunda rose. The centerpiece is a memorial to Marjorie that houses an antique urn, engraved with the Latin phrase ‘In me mea spes omnis’ which means ‘All my hopes rest in me’.
The French Parterre is a secluded garden room set off by ivy-covered walls. Surrounding the pool, which is lined with Italian glass tile, are English boxwood hedges pruned into scroll designs. The French Parterre garden is intended to capture the feel of a small formal garden in the 18th century.
The Japanese Style Garden is a reflection of Marjorie’s love of collecting decorative items. Hundreds of carefully assembled stones design a subtle structure that adds calmness to the garden, while flowing water stimulates the senses of sight and sound. A magnificent pair of stone “foo dogs” sit at the top of the garden, which are meant to ward off evil spirits.
The Greenhouse at Hillwood is stocked with orchids, Marjorie’s favorite flower. When she purchased the property, there was only one greenhouse. She soon added 4 more on each side of the original greenhouse. Today’s Hillwood greenhouse contains over 2,000 specimens and hundreds of different varieties of orchids. Hillwood is one of the only public gardens in the Washington D.C. area to allow visitors daily access to a working greenhouse.

These gardens are just a few of the highlights that the Hillwood House has to offer. We highly recommend planning a trip during visiting hours, which are Tuesday through Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. For more information, visit their website.