Garden Tour · 4 · Boxwood Ellipse


listen, robin on branch

The Boxwood Ellipse is another of the earliest plantings on the property and dates to the time of the first owners, Martha and Thomas Peter. It is believed that the first planting of English boxwood came from a Mount Vernon cutting.

During the 19th century, the Ellipse was clipped lower than today, at just 12 to 18 inches. Only in the 20th century was the boxwood permitted to grow taller. Extreme snow and ice storms in 2009 and subsequent years have unfortunately thinned the once luxuriant “box.”

As a guest of Martha and Thomas Peter, the Ellipse would have been part of your welcome to Tudor Place. You would have entered from R Street, on the property’s northern edge, and followed the center path by horse or carriage until met by enslaved coachman Will Johnson. He would have tied your horse’s reins to the locust tree within the ellipse. The tree is no longer alive, but its stump is still visible amid the boxwood branches.

The garden on this side of the house is referred to as the North Garden and, in the 20th century, has been designed to complement the symmetry of the house. The layout is in the formal style with garden “rooms,” mimicking the idea of rooms in a house.

Another trusted long-term gardener at Tudor Place was Charles Taylor, who started in 1912 after the death of John Luckett. During his early years working on the estate, he lived with his mother nearby, at 1678 32nd Street. By the 1930’s, according to a census, he was married and living with his wife, mother, and mother-in-law at an address now unknown. He resigned in 1944 following a dispute with owner Armistead Peter, Jr., over his work.

boxwood and main house

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