In any season, the beauty and serenity of fragrant flowers can be found in the greenhouse.
The Orchid: Her Favorite Flower
When Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased Hillwood in 1955, a small greenhouse existed on the grounds. Orchids were her favorite flower and she invested significant resources into fueling this passion. She saw Hillwood as a perfect opportunity to support her growing orchid collection and had four more greenhouses built on either side of the existing one.
Marjorie even hired an orchid curator to tend these temperamental beauties and breed new varieties for her pleasure. The curator delivered orchids in bloom to the mansion, always displaying them in Marjorie’s bedroom, the breakfast room, the library, and the French drawing room. Freshly cut orchids were also used in many of the floral arrangements for special events that she hosted. Marjorie was so fond of her orchids that she often had a large selection shipped from Hillwood to grace her rooms when she was in residence at her other properties.
Today, Hillwood maintains the orchid collection to Marjorie’s exacting standards, with a collection of over 2,000 specimens and hundreds of different varieties, and carries on the tradition of filling the mansion with these exotic flowers.
Greenhouse at Work
Hillwood is one of the only public gardens in the Washington D.C. area that offers visitors daily access to a working greenhouse where orchids and other tropical plants fill the space with color and fragrance. Wander in and you’ll likely find a knowledgeable staff member or volunteer applying their knowledge to the care of these exotic plants. The latest research and techniques are used to produce healthy plants and flowers grown for arrangements when the cutting garden is not in bloom.