The Hillwood Estate Gardens

So another garden we saw that Friday was the Hillwood Estate, which has 25 acres of grounds (plus a mansion and some other buildings) in the Northwest part of DC. It belonged to Marjorie Post for much of the last century. Marjorie owned General Foods, so she had a decent amount of disposable income. She left Hillwood as a public garden and museum, which was very nice of her.


Hillwood is actually a collection of gardens, not one garden. The first we passed through was a formal French parterre. Yawn. Not my thing.

DSC_0844Though I thought this sphinx was kind of unusual. Could it have been inspired by the owner?

DSC_0866Marjorie created a cemetery for her dearly departed pets, complete with statuary and granite head stones. She was definitely a dog person.

DSC_0880So for me the Hillwood Estates had two highlights: the Japanese-style garden and the cutting garden. The Japanese garden had two stepping stone paths that let you walk across the water feature. They were fun.

DSC_0895Striking vignettes were hidden from the garden paths, then were suddenly revealed.

DSC_0896Here’s the other stepping stone crossing.


I liked using fish poking their heads out of the water for the fountain.

DSC_0905An exceptionally nice waterfall.

DSC_0919Pink water lilies were in bloom.

DSC_0934We also spent some time in the rose garden. It was nice to sit in the shade of the arbor on that hot day.

DSC_0940This looks a lot like ‘Sally Holmes’, but I’m not sure. It was certainly fragrant.

DSC_0954Here’s the cutting garden. I loved the row of tall yellow Verbascum.

DSC_0957I thought the yellow Achillea and the blue Globe Thistle (Echinops) made a handsome couple.

DSC_0958There was also a bed of tall blue flowers that I thought was wonderful: Eryngium, Delphinium, Verbena, and I forget what else.

DSC_0962Oh, and I should mention that there was a very impressive greenhouse with quite the orchid collection.

I’m certainly glad that Hillwood was included on the 2017 Fling itinerary. If I had only a limited time to visit I would stick with the Japanese-style garden and the cutting garden, but that’s just me.

That’s all for now.

39 Comments on “The Hillwood Estate Gardens”

  1. Goodness, gardens look so lush in other regions. There is an old Japanese garden in San Jose that is very impressive, but not quite as serene. It looks like it is stressed somewhat by the chaparral climate. The three roses gardens do very well, but they are just roses. Filoli in Woodside is the closest we have to gardens in the East, but even it is not quite the same. . . . However, uniquely Californian landscapes that feature chaparral or desert plants are very interesting here.

  2. A couple of the flingers where talking over lunch and reflecting on all the gardens. The question was asked if you could which one would you like to have. I picked Hillwood Estates straight away and they all laughed. They were thinking of the residential gardens. I was a bit ambitious in my thinking. I still think of the garden, wishing I could explore this or that part again. The cutting garden was inspiring and the Japanese garden a true gem! Thanks for reminding me of it this morning : )

  3. There you go walking on water again. I’m with you on formal parterres but suppose if you had an incredible amount of space and resources to make a collection of gardens, it might be an interesting addition. It’s always interesting to see these huge former estates and wonder what it must have been like to live there.

  4. Hello Jason, formal gardens aren’t my thing either so I would have quickly passed those and spent much more time in the Japanese garden as well as looking at the roses. 25 acres is a huge amount of land and big enough to fit almost everything in.

  5. Pingback: Hillwood… | Old School Garden

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