The Kitchen Garden at Dumbarton Oaks


The kitchen garden at Dumbarton Oaks was conceived together with a cutting garden, a frame yard, espaliered fruit trees, a grape arbor, and an orchard. Farrand envisioned the kitchen garden as an integral parcel of the property, explaining that it would "tie the whole scheme of house, terrace and green garden, swimming pool and kitchen garden, into a unit." Yet the institutionalization of Dumbarton Oaks in 1940, and the budgetary constraints and that resulted, brought significant programmatic changes to the Kitchen Garden.

While the cutting garden, espaliered fruit trees, and orchard would persist, by 1947, vegetables were no longer being planted in the the kitchen garden. Some time between 1950 and 1955, the frames in the frameyard were removed and their brick foundations were buried. The vegetable garden was repurposed as a field for potted mums, and the frame yard was filled, leveled, seeded and used for peony beds. 

Today, the garden staff is working towards restoring the Kitchen Garden. In 2009, a small portion of the vegetable garden was replanted. In the summer of 2012, garden staff and summer GLS interns began to excavate the pit house at the northern edge of the former frame yard in order to determine if it could be restored to its original use. 


Siobhan Aitchison