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Spotlight on Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks is not often the first attraction that comes to tourists’ minds when thinking about places to visit in Washington, D.C. In fact, many people haven’t even heard of this off-the-beaten-path Georgetown estate that offers a distinctive look at Byzantine and Pre-Columbian history in its museums as well as a wealth of outdoor scenery in meticulously kept gardens spanning dozens of acres.

Rich Garden History

Like many of the world’s great gardens, Dumbarton Oaks began as a humble piece of neglected land, which was later transformed as a homestead. In 1920, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss purchased the 53-acre property that would become Dumbarton Oaks, and Mildred dedicated herself to designing the gardens with the help of landscape gardener, Beatrix Farrand. In 1940, the property was split, and 16 acres were given to Harvard University for research facilities focusing on Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and landscape architecture.

Distinctive Garden Sections

As you explore the diverse properties of Dumbarton Oaks, you will find something to delight in every season. There are several distinctive sections, including the Orangery, Green Gardens, Beech Terrace, Urn Terrace, Rose Garden, Fountain Terrace, Lover’s Lane Pool, Orchard, and Prunus Walk. Guests are invited to stroll along narrow paths winding through the different garden sections, viewing the ornate hardscaped features and carefully manicured gardens. Because the estate was built on the highest point in Georgetown, it showcases wonderful views throughout, including those on the North Vista, Crabapple Hill, and Cherry Hill. During both the fall and spring, the gardens explode with color as leaves change and fall and blooms erupt along with the bushes and trees.

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