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Oak Spring Garden Foundation History

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Image by Fred R. Conrad/NYT


Rachel “Bunny” Mellon’s interests in plants and gardens developed very early in her long life, when she was Rachel Lambert. At the age of ten, she began collecting books, and by the age of twelve was actively gardening, inspired in part by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted who managed the grounds of her father’s estate in Princeton, New Jersey. These early experiences awakened the relentless interest, passion, and pleasure in gardens and books that followed Bunny Mellon throughout her lifetime. Her curiosity eventually brought her ideas into gardens across America, England, France, and Italy. Two of her garden designs still grace the grounds of the White House: the Rose Garden and the Eastern Garden, which was later renamed in honor of Bunny Mellon’s dear friend Jacqueline Kennedy.

Her travels aside, Bunny Mellon’s passion for elegant design is expressed most fully in her home, garden, estate, and Library in Upperville, Virginia. The Library, built in 1981 as a gift from her husband Paul Mellon, was expanded in 1997 to contain her growing collection of books, manuscripts and art on plants, gardens, and landscapes. This legacy is maintained today on a 700-acre estate, which is now the home of OSGF and serves as continual inspiration as we help to perpetuate and share Mrs. Mellon’s gifts to the future.                                                                                                            

In her lifetime, Bunny Mellon first established the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation—a private grantmaking foundation named in honor of her father. She later founded OSGF as an operating foundation dedicated to perpetuating and sharing her hopes and ideas through her residence, garden, estate, and Library.

Learn more about the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation >>

Slideshow: Click below to learn more about our founder

Slideshow: Click below to learn more about our founder