Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

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Washington, DC
United States
Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Landscape Information

Built in 1978, this half-acre pocket garden was the result of efforts by Mrs. S. Dillon Ripley, wife of the Smithsonian Institution’s eighth Secretary. Tucked between the Arts and Industries Building and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, it was designed by architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen in an area previously slated for a parking lot. The original design intent was an accessible sensory garden for visitors to the Smithsonian. Jacobsen’s unique, curvilinear design and raised planting beds create a distinct, quiet space amidst the Smithsonian’s diverse complex of buildings and gardens. Early plants were brought from the Ripley home in Litchfield, Connecticut. More recent horticultural efforts have focused on displaying a broad variety of plants, many of which are grown in the Smithsonian greenhouses. The nineteenth century cast-iron furnishings are part of the historical collection belonging to Smithsonian Gardens. The garden was renamed in Mrs. Ripley’s honor in 1988 by the Smithsonian Women's Committee, a philanthropic group she helped create more than twenty years earlier.