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Lovers’ Lane Pool

In the dappled sunlight of the southeast corner of the estate lies Lovers’ Lane Pool. Bordering Lovers’ Lane, a local walking and access route from Georgetown into Rock Creek Park, this garden room is an oasis of reflection tucked away behind baroque columns and a green shroud of bamboo. The pool was once a lily pond before Beatrix Farrand began to sculpt the land in 1925.

Farrand’s design of the Lovers’ Lane Pool reframes the natural shape of the pond into a perfect oval. A brick path circumnavigates the water that offers a path for viewing the Pool as a sculpture in the round. It is the focal point of the garden room. The pool is extraordinarily immersive despite a visitor’s dry feet and its shallow depth. Its surface is often still--unperturbed by gentle breezes and protected by the hillside. Here lie the ever-changing mystical reflections of the press of surrounding trees, the racing clouds overhead, and the inquisitive garden-goer who peers over the edge. The whole of the room expands outwards from the Pool.

Rising up from the pool are amphitheatrical benches carved into the hillside. Designed in the image of an amphitheater at the Accademia degli Arcadi Bosco Parrasio in Rome, Lovers’ Lane Pool is sometimes referred to as the Theater Pool. Its counterpart in Italy served as a meeting place for the Arcadians—philosophers practicing the ideal of harmony with nature. With this ethos in mind, it is likely Farrand elicited the current form of the pool from the existing pond rather than filling it in and regrading the land. Similar to the entirety of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Farrand’s design is oriented towards perfect concert and balance with nature.

The Italian inspiration for the room is similarly present in a line of baroque stone columns that guard Lovers’ Lane Pool around its periphery. Green vines wind around them providing a linkage between Farrand’s design interventions and nature. The top of the steps are bounded by a trellis on which wisteria blooms dropping its flowers through wooden slats, adding a splash of lavender to a garden room otherwise defined by shady green hues.

Lovers’ Lane Pool is its own little enclave. The overhang of the trees around the pool allow sunlight to peak through the leaves and refract off the water. It is a quiet little theater where the sounds of the rest of the gardens, now muted, play out on a grassy stage.

 

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