In 1942, famed landscape designer Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959) designed the simple garden “room” behind Green Spring’s Historic House for Michael and Belinda Straight, the property’s last private residents.
A 147-foot-long curved retaining wall of rose quartz and granite formed the foundation of her design. A crescent of American boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) was planted above it. The wall and the boxwood hedge were centered on the house, enclosing a spacious lawn and creating a well-defined garden room.
With signature clarity of outline, Farrand created an ideal outdoor space for the Straights to entertain their many guests of national and international renown. At Green Spring, this master of grand scale work distilled her design philosophy into a small space. Though modest in scope and scale, the garden is a pure expression of Farrand’s style and technique. It was one of the last projects of her celebrated career and is her only garden design in Virginia.
Farrand designed more than 200 gardens from the 1890s to the 1950s at grand estates, public parks, botanic gardens, college campuses and the White House. Her recognized masterpiece, the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., is considered the apogee of her career.
In 2014, the Restoration Committee of the Garden Club of Virginia completed a restoration of the key elements of Farrand’s garden room at Green Spring. The preservation of the stone retaining wall - by then showing significant signs of deterioration - was the chief concern of the project. The wall was completely dismantled, and all the original stones restacked and mortared. The project was officially presented to the Park Authority on June 10, 2015.