Oak Spring Garden Foundation
  • July 2022, #25364
  • GrowTech Architectural Greenhouse
  • Engineering: Sunshine Rooms Inc.
  • Installation: Sleepy Creek Sunrooms
  • CSI code 13 43 13

The Oak Spring Garden Foundation was established in 1993 by Rachel, “Bunny” Mellon.  Bunny developed an interest in gardening quite early in life, and by the age of 12, she was an avid gardener with a burgeoning collection of gardening and landscape books.  Over the years her passion for plants would grow to include botanical studies and the principles of garden and landscape design. And her friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy allowed her to design gardens that still grace the grounds of the White House.

No matter where her travels would lead, Bunny’s home was Oak Spring, a 4000-acre farm in Pennsylvania shared with her husband, Paul Mellon.  It was at Oak Spring that Paul built Bunny a library to house her large collection of botanical and horticultural books.  It was Bunny’s wish that her collection of books and gardens should continue to be a resource for students after her death, thus the Oak Spring Garden Foundation began. 



New greenhouse for sustainability

The land itself has a rich history as well. Rokeby, as the farm was once called, was a productive Virginia plantation. One hundred years later Andrew Mellon purchased the property and turned it into a legendary horse farm with over 4000 acres. The farm has seen many changes over the years and has, at times, fallen into disrepair. It is said that the trees on the farm have seen it all, including jets landing and taking off among the pastures where the world’s fastest horses grazed.

Upon the passing of Bunny Mellon, the Oak Spring Garden Foundation carried on her life’s work, centered on her library collection.  The foundation uses the property for greenhouses and gardens, and students of horticulture are able to spend time with the foundation as interns and fellows learning the art of landscapes and garden design.  But as with all things, time has taken its toll on the greenhouses. Crystal Structures will be manufacturing the new 21’ x 95’ greenhouse for installation on the property by Sleepy Creek Sunrooms.  

Gus Frey, National Sales Manager, related how Crystal Structures became involved in the project, “Starting with a call from Mike Malone at Sleepy Creek Sunrooms.  He had just worked with one of our installers on a greenhouse in North Carolina.  Mike asked to get our greenhouse submitted for a special project he had coming up.”  That project turned out to be the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. 

“The Oak Spring Foundation Greenhouse project has been a wonderful journey of discovery for us,” said Gus.   The gardens and production greenhouses on the property are used to teach science and educate others about sustainability practices.  There are workshops and seminars that teach the integration of the humanities with science. This is all part of the Oak Spring motto, “Plants, people, and possibilities.”

“Through information communicated by Mike and our own research, we discovered how special this project really is for us,” Gus said. “[There is] such a wonderfully rich history at Oak Spring, we are honored to be a part of taking Bunny’s dream into future generations.”

Watch for project completion in 2023

Rachel Mellon

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