Landscape designer and PBS horticultural guru Michael Weishan, recently wrote about three “master-class” historic gardens, for Old House OnLine.  His top three choices: The Getty Villa, Malibu CA., historic Williamsburg, and Dumbarton Oaks near D.C.

The lessons Weishan shared;  link indoors and out, as seen at the Getty Villa whose gardens flow in, out, and around the structure, and the house embraces the gardens within its walls. Embrace a sense of order and unity; value the harmonious relationship between various architectural features, the plantings, and the homes themselves, as found in Colonial Williamsburgs gardens. Finally, whatever your site or climate type, gardens succeed best when they coexist with their surroundings, rather than attempt to dominate or control them. For Dumbarton Oaks, whose gardens are set on difficult rocky terrain, Weishan reminds us to embrace whatever conditions we’ve inherited—sun, shade, bog, desert—and make the most of them.

My family is lucky enough to live near one of his choices, the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA., a true masterpiece. We have also visited the historic site of Williamsburg more than once, and agree that the entire setting truly captivates the visitors senses.  His last choice, Dumbarton Oaks near D.C., will remain at the top of my list when next I visit dear friends in the area.

Visit OldHouseOnLine for more helpful and informative articles about historic homes and their gardens.