Bunny Mellon: An Extraordinary Life

 One week ago arts patron, horticulturist, confidant to Jackie Kennedy, and Listerine heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon died at the age of 103.  Throughout her life she maintained her privacy.  Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen described her – “She was a marvelously shy person.  She hated the public light and having her picture taken.”

Her decree was “nothing should be noticed” but one cannot help but notice the gardens she so masterfully designed – her own and those of friends such as Hubert de Givenchy and the Kennedys, for whom she did the White House Rose Garden…

Bunny Mellon in Rose Garden

She created spaces for gracious living – her upper east townhouse courtyard…

Bunny Mellon New York townhouse garden

her interiors are also a statement of retrained design…

Bunny Mellon NYC townhouse

beautiful painted floors were part of the design…

Bunny Mellon painted floors

I read somewhere that she even painted shadows on the floors so it appeared that the sun was always shining!  I believe this has been proven to be false but what a great idea!

Her primary residence, Oak Spring, in Virginia was photographed by Jonathan Becker for an article in Vanity Fair written by James Reginato which is definitely worth a read…

Bunny Mellon Oak Spring garden

Bunny Mellon Oak Spring Garden

Mellon was a self-taught botanist, she studied the techniques of  Jean de La Quintinie (he created Louis XIV’s Potager du Roi at Versailles).  When the Potager had fallen into ruin she was able to assist with its restoration…

Potager du Roi

 Everything she designed was beautiful but I think my favorite is the greenhouse at Oak Spring.  The pavilion features a trompe l’oeil mural painted by Fernand Renard.  Along with gardening accoutrements such as watering cans and baskets, her personal items are included – hat, letters, cigarettes and coat…

Oak Spring mural

 Bunny Mellon led an extraordinary life and leaves a great legacy in garden design –

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into her life and work…

dog peeking over fence



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  1. Ingrid taylor says:

    You always make me want to seek more, and I thank you Marsha!!!!

  2. loved the post!

  3. Gayle Royals says:

    Marsha, the Mellon photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing this piece of beauty!

    • mnestorc@aol.com says:

      So happy to share them and glad you enjoyed all that beauty! As always, thanks for reading!

  4. Thanks for sharing another great story of one who contributed so much beauty to the world.