Annual Fall ASLA Excursion

2024 Annual ASLA Excursion: Washington, D.C.

Upperville, VA

Oak Spring, the refined and exquisite Upperville, VA estate of “Bunny” Mellon is the centerpiece of  The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s (TCLF) annual daylong excursion on October 4, 2024, held in conjunction with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Conference on Landscape Architecture. Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon gained international attention for her design of the White House Rose Garden during the Kennedy Administration, but it’s her 700-acre estate, now operated by the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, where Mrs. Mellon pursued her lifelong passion for plants inspired by the history, art, and culture of plants, gardens and landscapes. TCLF’s annual, curated excursions to exceptional examples of landscape architecture and design are eagerly anticipated, extremely popular, and always sell out months in advance.

Mrs. Mellon was renowned as a creator of beauty and as a woman with impeccable style. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her home. She once said “every rock has its purpose” and “ever plant has its purpose.” Inspired by French styled parterres, the terraced gardens of Oak Spring are the perfect marriage of the two sentiments. The rock in this case is local fieldstone which was hand laid by Oak Spring’s stonemasons, and the plants are a smattering of herbs and other perennials which were first sprinkled out as seeds by Bunny during the garden's construction. Attendees will explore the library, main residence, Walled Garden, and more. Lunch at the property’s farm is included, as is transportation starting and ending at TCLF’s Washington, D.C. office in DuPont Circle. 

Oak Spring, Upperville, VA - Photo courtesy Oak Spring Garden Foundation

The garden at Oak Spring is one of the last intact private gardens designed by Mrs. Mellon, who by the age of twelve was an active gardener, inspired in part by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted who managed the grounds of her father’s estate in Princeton, N.J. The gardens Mrs. Mellon created during her life were influenced by a number of places, objects, people and literature. One woman who had a lasting impact on American gardens and served as an inspiration for her was Ellen Shipman.

Water Garden, Oak Spring, Upperville, VA - Photo courtesy Oak Spring Garden Foundation

In the unassuming pastoral beauty of the Virginia countryside, walking into the Walled Garden is akin to opening a jewel box to reveal the treasures within. The Walled Garden is the heart of the home that Mrs. Mellon created, connecting, and integrating the surrounding buildings into a unified whole, while seamlessly blending in the wider landscape. 

Oak Spring, Upperville, VA - Photo by Roger Foley, 2017

Mrs. Mellon’s celebrated Oak Spring Garden Library comprises a collection of more than 19,000 objects, including rare books, manuscripts, and works of art dating back to the 14th century. The collection mainly encompasses works relating to horticulture, landscape design, botany, natural history, and voyages of exploration. There are also components relating to architecture, decorative arts, and classical literature. Mrs. Mellon’s collecting, guided by precise objectives and unerring taste, led to the acquisition of some of the most significant works in the history of botany, botanical illustration, and garden and landscape design – not only the most beautiful but also those of the greatest historical and cultural importance – at a time when the field was still only of tangential interest to botanists, historians, and art historians.

On the return trip the group will visit Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, VA. The present campus compound which includes the church, parish hall, and rectory (now used as the church office), numerous related buildings, and additional land totaling approximately 35 acres were all gifts to Trinity by Mr. & Mrs. Mellon.

On October 6 TCLF is proud to present an exclusive preview of the documentary SITTING STILL, featuring renowned landscape architect, National Medal of Arts recipient (2012), and former TCLF Board Member Laurie Olin, before its premier broadcast on PBS, with a reception to follow. Please note that both the excursion and the reception are ticketed separately.

LA CES™ professional development hours will be available to attendees.

Refund Policy

Cancellations and Refunds will be granted according to the following schedule:

Up to two (2) weeks in advance: 50% (Deduction represents administrative processing fees)

No refunds will be made for cancellations thirteen (13) days prior to event

No refunds will be made for “No Shows” (a person who registers for a program but who does not cancel registration or attend the program).

Refunds will be processed as they are received or after the conclusion of the program, depending on the program date and when cancellation occurs. Refunds may take five (5) to seven (7) business days to process.