Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

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Washington, DC
United States
Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Landscape Information

This half-acre pocket garden was built in 1978, the inspiration of Mrs. S. Dillon Ripley, wife of the Smithsonian Institution’s eighth Secretary. Located on the south side of the National Mall, 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 a sensory garden for handicapped and other 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 in the garden 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 19th-century cast-iron furnishings in the garden are also unique, 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 found more than twenty years earlier.