Dumbarton Oaks Gardens: Pebble Garden


The Pebble Garden, as seen from above, is
one of the most dramatic rooms of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. Its swirls and fountains impart a sense of
European grace. But the space now occupied by this garden
was originally a tennis court, designed by Beatrix Farrand. The Blisses, however, rarely used it, and
after the property’s transfer to Harvard in 1941, the problem arose of how to transform
the area into a more aesthetically pleasing design. Mildred Bliss was inspired by a trip to the
Villa I Tatti outside of Florence, Italy, to charge the landscape designer Ruth Havey
(who was one of Farrand’s protégés) with the task of creating a pebble mosaic. Havey considered the Pebble Garden her masterpiece. The mosaic was originally intended to have
water above it. But because of cracks in the cement bedding,
it had to be drained. Now, low parterres rise above the dry stone
surfaces. At the south end of the garden, the stones
form the image of a large sheaf of grain, flanked by two cornucopias. Together, they illustrate the Bliss family
motto: “Quod Severis Metes,” which is Latin for the Biblical saying “You reap
what you sow.”

1 thought on “Dumbarton Oaks Gardens: Pebble Garden

  1. It's Harvard. Invest the money into restoring the pebble garden back to the pebble pool & fountain! With modern materials and methods, this has got to be exactly what someone is working on right now. John Pond, Master Brickmason,'s work can be seen on the private sidewalk inside the 32nd St. entrance. PRO TIP: For more gardens & culture, walk south on 31st Street to Tudor Place. tudorplace.org

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