Hard Bargain Farm

Accokeek, MD
United States
Hard Bargain Farm

In 1922, Henry and Alice Ferguson purchased 330 acres on the eastern shore of the Potomac River ten miles south of Washington, D.C. The Fergusons developed the property – which encompassed rolling hills, fields, woods, streams, wetlands, and a dilapidated farmstead – as a working farm and weekend retreat. Alice, a painter trained at the Corcoran School of Art, designed the manor and its gardens, which she sited atop a hill affording expansive views of the surrounding countryside and the capital city.

Alice’s Country Place Era gardens exhibit both elements of Beaux-Arts neoclassicism and the romanticism of the Picturesque. An oval-shaped lawn is defined by boxwood and spirea hedging, with outer paths lined with perennials and shrubs shaded by magnolias and dogwoods. Enclosed with a balustrade which frames a view of Mount Vernon directly across the Potomac River, the garden also incorporates a water feature and sculpture, including works by Lenore Thomas Straus, a local Works Progress Administration artist. The house is draped with rose and grape arbors and wisteria vines, with a formalized entry lined with trimmed boxwoods.

The non-profit Alice Ferguson Foundation was formed in 1954, and continues to steward Hard Bargain Farm as a productive farm and environmental education center. In 1968, half of the property was given to the National Park Service to found Piscataway National Park, preserving the Mount Vernon viewshed.