Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rachel Lambert Mellon


Upperville, Virginia (JFK+50) Rachel Lambert Mellon*, friend of Jacqueline Kennedy who at her request redesigned the Rose Garden at the White House in 1961, died at the age of 103 here in Upperville yesterday, March 17, 2014.

Ms. Mellon, called "Bunny" by her mother, was heir to the Listerine fortune and became both a horticulturalist and fine arts collector.

Rachel Mellon lived in apartments in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Paris.  She died where she has lived for many years at her estate, Oak Spring, here in Upperville.

Ms. Mellon was the oldest daughter of Gerard Barnes Lambert, president of Gillette Razor Company.  Her grandfather invented Listerine.

Her second husband, Paul Mellon, the only son of Andrew W. Mellon was a wealthy financier and Secretary of Treasury to 3 United States presidents.

Rachel Mellon loved gardening and her first job had been as a garden designer for Hattie Carnegie.

Unknown to most Americans, she gained publicity for her redesign of the White House Rose Garden which had been developed by President Woodrow Wilson's wife, Ellen in 1913.

President John F. Kennedy's predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had ordered the roses in the garden cut down so that a putting green could be installed.

Ms. Mellon's newly designed Rose Garden in 1961 included flower beds in the French style accompanied by crab apples and diamond shaped hedges. 

Roses were the main flowers although seasonal flowers were added.

The White House Rose Garden
Reagan Library Photo

Rachel was working on the East Garden of the White House when President Kennedy was assassinated.  

She completed her work under direction of Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

It was christened as the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden.

Jacqueline Kennedy Garden

In 1966, Ms. Mellon was awarded the Conservation Service Award by Kennedy appointee, Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall.

Secretary Udall said...

"The nation will be ever indebted to you for your gift of talent to the design and development of the Rose Garden and the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden..."

Rachel Mellon's garden work included Jacqueline Kennedy's summer home on Martha's Vineyard and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

The landscape she designed at the JFK Library includes dune grass like that which is seen on Cape Code where the President spent many carefree hours.

*Rachel Lowe Lambert Mellon (1910-2014) was born in Princeton, N.J. the daughter of Gerard Barnes and Rachel Lowe Lambert.

She attended Miss Fine's School in Princeton and Foxcroft in Middleburg, Virginia.

Rachel married her first husband, Stacy Barcroft Lloyd, Jr., in 1932.  They were divorced in 1946 and two years later she married Paul Mellon. 


"Rachel Mellon, an Heiress Known For Her Green Thumb, Dies at 103," by Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times, March 18, 2014.