Seven distinct gardens at private Georgetown residences offered participants in the 91st annual Georgetown Garden Tour, held on Saturday, May 11, a beguiling and leisurely look at what were really lush garden rooms. Those on the tour, organized by the Georgetown Garden Club, took in not only trees, plantings and flowers but pools, fountains, statuary and garden furniture — often including plush couches, fireplaces and complete outdoor kitchens.
Among the three largest gardens was one at the O Street home of Teresa Heinz Kerry, former Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and the family of the late Sen. H. J. Heinz III (R-Pennsylvania).
The garden, redesigned by Jane MacLeish, features multiple terraces for entertaining and different garden environments, such as the entrance water garden (behind the arched gate on O Street), the woodland garden and the terrace garden, with a large gazebo covered with wisteria and white roses. Everywhere are seating areas with comfortable chairs and tables. The terrace beds can be replanted for the season; the woodland garden with its stepping-stone path is underplanted with a variety of shade plants.
The large home of Mirella and Dani Levinas on the corner of R Street and Wisconsin Avenue is completely different. Minimalist, with modern sculptures — including the famous giant cup fountain at the edge of the swimming pool — placed throughout, the dominant feature is the two large groves of hornbeam trees that Levinas planted in the side gardens, with a bed of gravel and colorful sculptures interspersed. The trees create a cool and shaded environment distinct from the hot white areas of the pool and the white walls surrounding the house patio.
The home of Elizabeth and George Stevens on Avon Lane was different again, with a gate opening onto a brick drive and a garage that looks like a charming country cottage, a large rose garden and sun pond on the west side of the house and a swimming pool on the other. A Southern-style front porch filled with traditional white raffia cushioned chairs and couches overlooks a tennis court on the terrace below, with fencing completely encased with espaliered greens, accessible by a wooded path of stone steps imbedded with shade plants.
Other homes on the tour, including two in an interior courtyard off of 31st Street, also tempted visitors to linger at couches and tables. A long rectangular fireplace at the home of Suzann Riester and Ron Cohen felt good as the day became overcast. Interlocking pools and paths in the cozily designed gardens — also by Jane MacLeish — at the home of Susan Shaffer Rappaport invited visitors to wander. Both homes had contemporary sculptures that somehow fit perfectly into the lush greenery.
As the rain began, just as the tour ended at 4 p.m., tea and home-baked sweets were offered at Christ Church as the perfect finale. Proceeds from the tour go to Georgetown parks for plantings, repairs and new projects.