United States of America, District of Columbia, Washington
District of Columbia
O Street, Georgetown Garden (Washington, D.C.)
Around the time of the Civil War, this 18th century property was established by the Tenney sisters as a school for young ladies in the main house; and a kindergarten for boys, attended by the son of General Grant, in the outbuilding that is now an artist's studio. A stone channel leads from the southern wall across the lawn to a cistern in the basement to collect rainwater for use in cleaning and laundry. A pump found on the property was used to obtain drinking water from a private well where the rocky waterfall is now located. By the time the current owners took possession in 2001, a terrace and some low walls had been added, connecting the old house architecturally to the garden. Since then the property has been developed by its current owner into a colorful and vibrant space for entertaining and peaceful enjoyment.
The private areas of the property were divided by the current owner into four discrete sections, all lush with plantings and reflecting the originality of the owner, an artist. A fence and gate screen off the first area, a courtyard with converted artist's studio, from the street. Holly, nandina and vinca minor soften the perimeter, and the studio entry is framed by a stand of bear's breeches. Rounding the corner of the house is the koi waterfall garden with a "natural spring," inspired by the old pump, culminating in a fish pool. There is a Fullmoon maple and various woodland perennials such as Dixie wood fern, cinnamon fern, hellebore, sweet box, astilbe and sedum, grow among the rocks, while the studio is fronted by white camellia japonica.
A short flight of brick steps leads to a larger area with a large lotus pond (unusual in Georgetown) with a simple waterfall. A changing palette of blooming plants such as iris and peony, buddleia, Shasta daisies, black-eyed Susans, and phlox that were originally white have now turned pink, surround the pool. A wide trellis breaks up the expanse of brick wall that forms the rear garden boundary. An abutting wall, forming the garden's western boundary, features a tromp l'oeil mirror and trellis that contribute light and depth, in addition to supporting red honeysuckle and morning glory. Through an entry in a low brick wall parallel to the lotus pond is a terrace and the fourth garden area and the only section that predates the current owner. There a hybrid apple tree presents a magnificent espalier against the wall of the house next door. Dusty Miller billows at the base of the apple tree.
Persons associated with the garden include General Louis Little, USMC, (former owner, circa 1930s); the Hon. Robert H. Thayer, Ambassador to Romania (former owner, circa 1950s-1960s); John Wilmerding (former owner, dates unknown); Mrs. Carter Brown, (former owner, 1990-2001); Garden Gate Landscaping (garden designer, 2001); and Perry H. Wheeler (landscape architect, 1964-1966).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles and other information. See the Perry Wheeler Collection for correspondence with Thayer.