The Oak Hill Gardens
Photos from the Garden:
Oak Hill's gardens enhance the beauty of the estate. Designed between 1927 and 1933, Martha Berry sought to establish a Colonial revival garden landscape to match Oak Hill's renovations.
A Philadelphia landscape artist, Robert Cridland, designed the gardens surrounding the house. Cridland's other projects included the rose garden at the Hyde Park mansion of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt and the gardens of Cator Woolford in Atlanta. His landscape designs at Oak Hill represented early-twentieth-century landscaping trends that accompanied the revival of Colonial architecture. Compartmentalized gardens, separated by shrubs or walls, while a Victorian trend, carried over into the twentieth-century. The use of classical statuary and fountains, along with ponds and sundials situated within a panel of greenery were popular designs for elaborate gardens. Sunken gardens included central grass panels surrounded by a wall or perennial border. A garden area was almost always surrounded by a wild garden composed of "carefully planned tree groups with wild flowers, groundcover, and bulbs underneath."
Cridland created four separate gardens, each with distinct features: a formal garden, a sundial garden, a flowered path, and a goldfish garden. A few years later, in 1933, a sunken garden was added to the estate grounds. Furthermore, Cridland devised a landscape plan that created a long and meandering drive way entrance into the home so that people arrived at Oak Hill after traveling along a path lined by oak trees. His alterations adhered strictly to contemporary twentieth-century garden design. The efforts he made in creating a harmonious landscape complemented Oak Hill's Greek revival architecture and exemplified Martha Berry's love and appreciation of nature and beauty.
In the late 1970s, Blalock and Associates, an Athens Landscape firm, redid several of the plantings and flowerbeds in the gardens. Today, the gardens are maintained by the Oak Hill staff with assistance from Berry College students.
In addition to maintaining the gardens, grounds and walking trails, the gardens crew grows the majority of the bedding plants in the Oak Hill Gardens. Several greenhouses on site provide an excellent location in which to grow the All American Selections winners which are planted in various locations around the grounds. Of special note are the gardens around the Oak Hill Gift Shop, which have been designated an All American Selections Display Garden since 1996.