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article imageOp-Ed: Springtime blooms at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens in Va. Special

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By Leigh Goessl     May 14, 2012 in Travel
Leesburg - Over 200 years ago, a man named George Carter inherited a large parcel of land in Northern Virginia, over 3,400 acres. On this land he built a plantation, complete with a mansion, with the primary crop being wheat.
However, wheat wasn't the only investment Carter placed effort in, as he built his plantation, he'd also designed an elaborate garden that is adjoined to the mansion. Many of those plantings still exist today.
The garden is large, made up of several terraces, levels and sections. Visitors can wander through each nook and find themselves in an entirely different looking place, in a serene area separated from the rest. There are numerous plants, shrubs, trees and statues placed throughout the gardens. Walking through you get a sense of how life may have been on such a property, only experienced by those affluent enough to afford such luxury.
The teahouse located within the Oatlands  garden. This structure overlooks a bowling green with the ...
The teahouse located within the Oatlands' garden. This structure overlooks a bowling green with the reflecting pool on the other end.
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After the Civil War, the Carter fortune suffered. George Carter had died before the war and the property was managed by his wife Elizabeth Grayson Carter, along with her sons. The family never was able to recover the house to its once grand position and during the post-Civil War era, the home was used as a girls' school and a bed and breakfast; in 1897 the family sold the property, but the new owner never lived in the mansion.
Over time another family purchased the property, Mr. and Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis. The Eustis' bought the elaborate home as their country home in 1903, and Edith Eustis took on the mission of reviving the ruins of the once magnificent gardens.
Reflecting pool built by Edith Eustis in the 1930s
Reflecting pool built by Edith Eustis in the 1930s
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Oatlands' website states, "Edith Eustis saw the garden ruin as a quiet, still, mysterious place harboring “old secrets” that inspired her to fill Carter’s terraces with boxwood-lined parterres full of fragrant and colorful flowers such as tulips, peonies, iris, and lilies. Romantic plant containers, statuary, and structures were added."
One of the tiers in the gardens at Oatlands
One of the tiers in the gardens at Oatlands
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In 1923 it is said Mrs. Eustis had stated, "It was a thankful task to restore the old beauty, although the thoughts and conceptions were new, they fitted it. And every stone vase or bench, every box-hedge planted, seemed to fall into its rightful place and become a part of the whole.”
Oatlands Gardens
Oatlands Gardens
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Today the gardens are restored to their earlier splendor, and continue to be tended with care. Walking through it is easy to imagine they look a lot like what they once did over 19th and 20th centuries.
A section of the vast gardens located at Oatlands Plantation
A section of the vast gardens located at Oatlands Plantation
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Along the walkway of the gardens  the main house is on the other side of the stone wall
Along the walkway of the gardens, the main house is on the other side of the stone wall
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A well located on the lower level of the gardens
A well located on the lower level of the gardens
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Visitors admire the beauty of the gardens
Visitors admire the beauty of the gardens
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Looking beyond the gardens to hills across the way, new housing can be seen in the distance, but I imagine the view is not unlike it may have been two hundred, even 100, years ago. Carter seems to have picked an ideal position on the hill to place the house.
A view of the distance from Oatlands
A view of the distance from Oatlands
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A section of the gardens at Oatlands
A section of the gardens at Oatlands
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The Oatlands  gardens begin to bloom with color once the weather begins to warm.
The Oatlands' gardens begin to bloom with color once the weather begins to warm.
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A couple sits and enjoys the beautiful May weather at Oatlands
A couple sits and enjoys the beautiful May weather at Oatlands
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Oatlands' website has a page dedicated to many of the plants that can be found in these gardens.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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