Skip to main content
SUB-SERIES — Folder: 14 Identifier: DDO-RB-GAR-001

Dumbarton Oaks Garden, East Lawn

Scope and Contents

Twenty black and white photographs and 5 color photographs of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden, East Lawn is an unbroken expanse of grass stretching from the entrance of the house southeast to the R Street wall.

In her Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks, Beatrix Farrand, landscape gardener called the East Lawn “one of the loveliest of the features of Dumbarton Oaks in its freedom from detail” (p. 20). To frame the open lawn, Farrand planned perimeter plantings chosen for their size and proportion, with an emphasis on a natural effect.

The trees, shrubs, and vines that she placed along the verge of the East Lawn lengthened perspective when viewed from the house. The plantings along the R Street wall also served as a screen between the road and the estate. This thick screen of greenery, sometimes called the Wilderness, heavily features evergreens to provide privacy year round. Among the trees in this screen, the Japanese maple and the sprawling Katsura tree serve as visual focal points and add consistency to the design of the East Lawn over the years; these trees have been in place since before Robert and Mildred Bliss purchased Dumbarton Oaks.

The major design feature of this garden area has always been the simplicity of the large, open lawn. However, a few smaller areas of unique design appear within the greater garden area of the East Lawn. Some of these plantings, like the Terrior Column and Enclosure, are now considered separate spaces. Others, like the Wilderness, have blended into the overall design and lost their distinct name. Cockylocky (Cocky-Locky) and the Gothic Garden are examples of large boxwood-heavy designs that became overgrown and were eventually removed or redesigned.


  • 1921-1979

Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English with a few items in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, or Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

An appointment is required to consult the collection. Please submit appointment requests here: For research queries, contact the staff of Rare Book Collection (


8 linear feet (23 boxes of textual material with approximately 2631 items; 2411 drawings; and 1235 photographs)

Repository Details

Part of the Dumbarton Oaks Repository

Dumbarton Oaks holds archival collections in its Rare Book Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, and the Dumbarton Oaks Archives. The collections include: the papers of noteworthy scholars in the three fields that Dumbarton Oaks supports (Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape); image collections depicting objects or sites of topical interest to scholars in the three fields; Beatrix Farrand’s personal archive of letters and original drawings that document the development of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden; and institutional records and architectural plans and drawings documenting the history of Dumbarton Oaks. For more information about hours and to make an appointment to consult any of the collections listed here, please fill out the request form:

1703 32nd Street, NW
Washington DC 20007 USA