(This video is closed-captioned in English and Spanish.)
(Este video tiene subtítulos en inglés y español.)
Ondine’s Walk is in an area normally closed to the public, but visitors can catch a glimpse of its amazing brickwork by walking to the west side of the North Vista and peering in over the gate. The area was originally known, less dramatically, as the “Office Garden.” In Farrand’s plan, it was designed so that Mildred and Robert Bliss could eat breakfast in the gardens. Now, the space is adjacent to the staff lounge. The garden, formerly filled with pebbles, was redesigned in 2008 to honor former Dumbarton Oaks Director Ned Keenan.
The brick walkway, as you see it now, incorporates a wave glyph inspired by Pre-Columbian motifs, as it winds around a Japanese maple tree and disappears into the wooded area next to the Pre-Columbian Pavilion. The name, Ondine’s Walk, is a nod to the aquatic imagery. The ondine, which appeared first in the writings of Renaissance alchemist Paracelsus, is a category of mythological creatures associated with water, including mermaids.
More Exhibit Items
The brick and limestone ribbon walks simulate the quality of flowing cloth.
This small greenhouse is one of the oldest structures still standing on the grounds of Dumbarton Oaks.
The wide, shady branches of an enormous beech tree stretch over this quiet enclosed space.
This grassy terrace, shaded by a tall oak tree, provides panoramic view of the entire estate.
This small room features custom stonework, wrought-iron furniture, and a fountain ornamented with various constellations.
The swimming pool and beautifully decorated loggia attest to Dumbarton Oaks’ history as a private residence.
Blooming forsythia turns this corner of the gardens bright yellow at the beginning of spring.
When the trees blossom in springtime, this hillside becomes one of the gardens’ most magical spaces.
Hidden near the edge of the gardens, Lilac Circle offers a secluded spot for rest and contemplation.
Elaborate stonework and low flowerbeds play off trellises of wisteria in this stately courtyard.
The Urn Terrace serves as an ivied transition between the Beech Terrace, Box Walk, and Rose Garden.
A riotous variety of roses fills this sunny space between the Urn and Fountain Terraces.
A traditional flower garden in a blend of English Cottage and Arts and Crafts style.
This narrow brick walk wends through a dreamlike woodland spotted with daffodils and hyacinths.
A shallow pool sits at the bottom of a small brick amphitheater, bordered by a stand of bamboo.
The story of a terrier given to a Neapolitan girl by a French admiral inspired this column.