Bunny Mellon was an American horticulturist, philanthropist, and art collector. She was born on August 9, 1910, in Princeton, New Jersey, and passed away on March 17, 2014, at the age of 103. Mellon is famous for her landscaping and horticulture contributions and the design of the White House Rose Garden, which she created in collaboration with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s.
Mellon is perhaps best known for her elegant taste and innovative designs, particularly in the fields of horticulture and garden design. She was an avid gardener and landscape designer who created some of the most iconic gardens in the United States, including the White House Rose Garden and the gardens at the Mellon family’s estates in Virginia and Massachusetts.
In addition to her work in horticulture and garden design, Mellon was also a passionate art collector and philanthropist. She and her husband, Paul Mellon, were major donors to numerous cultural institutions, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where they donated a large portion of their extensive art collection.
Throughout her life, Mellon remained deeply committed to the values of simplicity, elegance, and a deep love for the natural world, which were reflected in all of her work. She continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspiring figures in American design and philanthropy.
I’ve been inspired by Bunny Mellon since I heard about her, around the time of her passing in 2014 when Sotheby’s did an auction on Mellon’s impressive estate; a portion of her extensive art collection and personal possessions were sold at auction by Sotheby’s in November of that year. The auction, which was titled “Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon: Masterworks,” included over 2,000 items, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative arts.
In addition to the auction, a significant portion of Bunny Mellon’s estate was bequeathed to the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, which was established to preserve and maintain her gardens and library. The foundation continues to operate today and is dedicated to advancing the study of horticulture, botany, and related subjects, as well as honoring Bunny Mellon’s legacy of philanthropy and dedication to the arts and humanities.
Bunny Mellon’s estate, also known as Oak Spring Farm, is a 4,000-acre property located in Upperville, Virginia. The estate includes extensive gardens, a working farm, and numerous buildings, including a main house, a guest house, and several barns.
Mellon and her husband, Paul Mellon, purchased the estate in the 1940s and spent many years developing and refining the gardens and grounds. The gardens are known for their simplicity, elegance, and use of natural materials, with a particular emphasis on plants and flowers that are native to the region.
In addition to the gardens and grounds, the estate includes a library and research center dedicated to the study of horticulture, botany, and landscape design. The library contains over 16,000 volumes, including rare and out-of-print books on gardening, botany, and related subjects.
After Bunny Mellon’s passing in 2014, the Oak Spring Garden Foundation was established to preserve and maintain the estate and its gardens for future generations. The foundation’s mission is to promote and advance the study of plants and their cultivation, as well as to honor the Mellons’ legacy of philanthropy and dedication to the arts and humanities.
Bunny Mellon is a huge source of inspiration for myself. As I research and design with intention in my new home. The old carriage house has been turned into a guest suite and I plan on converting it into a garden/ basket room, heavily inspired by Mellon. These are a few of the details I am implementing.
Arch Digest article
Vanity Fair article
Town & Country article
Garden & Gun article
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