Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

A quiet oasis with a distinctive sense of intimacy and informality

View of the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Current Horticulturist Janet Draper's goal is to expose visitors to the widest variety of plants possible...to "expand the plant palette." In the garden's early years, Smithsonian gardeners transplanted Euonymus from the Ripley family home in Litchfield, Connecticut, to form the east wall's espaliers. Today, Smithsonian greenhouse staff produce the garden's unique hanging baskets and seasonal plants for the flower beds.

Open daily, the Ripley Garden is a quiet oasis for thousands of National Mall visitors each year. Its unusual curvilinear design - the work of noted Washington, DC, architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen - along with a profusion of flowers in raised beds, creates a distinctive sense of intimacy and informality.

The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden was the inspiration of Mrs. S. Dillon Ripley, lifelong plant scholar-collector, active gardener, and wife of the Smithsonian Institution's eighth Secretary. Mrs. Ripley conceived the idea for a "fragrant garden" on the eastern border of the Arts and Industries Building - a location that was designated to become a parking lot. In 1978 Mrs. Ripley persuaded the Women's Committee of the Smithsonian Associates, which she had founded in 1966, to support the garden. In 1988 the Women's Committee recognized their founder and friend by naming the garden after her.

In 1994, Mrs. John Clifford Folger of Washington, DC, and Palm Beach, Florida, initiated an endowment fund for the support and care of the garden in order that it might be preserved as it was first conceived by Mrs. Ripley. This thoughtful gift was given with the hope that others might add to the fund so that visitors would be able to enjoy the garden into the 21st century.

Join Horticulturist Janet Draper for a casual and informative tour of the garden every Tuesday at 2 p.m. throughout October weather permitting. Meet at the fountain in the Ripley garden.

Aristolochia Grandiflora (Pelican Flower) with Janet Draper

Horticulturist Janet Draper's goal is to expose visitors to the widest variety of plants possible...to "expand the plant palette." In the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden's early years, Smithsonian gardeners transplanted Euonymus from the Ripley family home in Litchfield, Connecticut, to form the east wall's espaliers.