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Autumn Leaves and Mums

Posted On November 07, 2017 | 16:24 pm | by jamesc | Permalink
James N. Carder (November 2017)

Fountain Terrace Mum Planting, 2016 (AR.DP.GP.18.048).

The Dumbarton Oaks gardens are closed until March while work continues to improve the gardens’ water-supply network. This means that garden visitors must miss the spectacular fall show of chrysanthemums and colorful deciduous trees, always at their best in November when the mums seem to mimic in shape and color the tree canopy that floats above them. Indeed, the fall gardens at Dumbarton Oaks have delighted visitors since the gardens were first opened to the public in 1941. On November 13th of that year, for example, Marguerite Allen wrote Mildred Bliss:

My dear Mrs. Bliss,

It was my very good pleasure to visit last Wednesday your lovely estate, as one among the gathering who assembled there. I wish to say my heart is full of loving appreciation and adoration for your generosity in opening your doors that the public might get a glimpse of “Very Close to Heaven.” For this is most certainly describing my feelings as I walked through the spacious grounds. As we entered the chrysanthemum garden so radiant in splendor, I wondered if paradise could be more beautiful.

In lieu of a visit, the Dumbarton Oaks Archives can offer a retrospective of the autumn garden from its collection of some 1,580 analog and digital garden images, which date from the 1920s to the present year.


Fountain Terrace chrysanthemum border, 1980 (AR.PH.GP.18.091).


View from Green Garden over the Pebble Garden to the distant Dumbarton Oaks Park, 2005 (AR.DP.GP.18.050).

View from the Rose Garden in Autumn

View from the Urn Terrace over the Rose Garden, 2015 (AR.DP.GP.18.054).


South Lawn, November 18, 2009 (AR.DP.GP.18.055).