About the Oak Hill Gardens
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.