Oak Spring Garden Library


Welcome to Oak Spring

Following plans developed by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, approximately 112 acres surrounding their home, gardens and library are being conveyed to the Oak Spring Garden Foundation to serve as a center for scholarship devoted to the history and future of plants, gardens, botanical art and their roles in society.

The Oak Spring Garden Library houses a collection of books and artwork that was begun by Mrs. Mellon when she was in her teens. In addition to rare and beautiful books are many other useful volumes tracing the history of gardening back to the fifteenth century including the early history of plant science. Years of continued curiosity added botanical and horticultural studies, garden designs, drawings of plants, botanical and related artworks, biographies of naturalists and explorers, accounts of their ships, their journeys, and their discoveries. The collection also includes manuscripts, illustrations, and china related to the books. The library has served as a reference source for scholars supported by Mr. and Mrs. Mellon. Visitors from the United States and abroad have consulted the collection for exhibition preparation, scholarly study, and publications research.

The Garden Library publications program has produced a series of award winning books: Oak Spring Sylva: A selection of the Rare Books on Trees in the Oak Spring Library, Upperville, Virginia (1989); An Oak Spring Pomona: A Selection of the Rare Books on Trees in the Oak Spring Garden Library (1990); An Oak Spring Flora: Flower Illustration from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Time - A selection of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art in the Collection of Rachel Lambert Mellon (1997); and An Oak Spring Herbaria: Herbs and Herbals from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries -A Selection of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Works of art in the Collection of Rachel Lambert Mellon (2009).

The library is set into the gardens of Little Oak Spring, the Mellon home. The aim of the Foundation will be to create a place where scholars, professionals and practitioners from fields associated with History, Garden Design, Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Art, and plant sciences can meet and work, each gaining breadth and strength in her or his own field from the differing approaches of the others.

The Library will be associated with appropriate institutions within its fields of interest It will be a place for the study of plants: the practice and history of gardening (and associated horticulture); garden and landscape design; botanical art; the history of plant exploration; and current uses of plants in service to society. It will be open principally to scholars, practitioners, and interested groups by appointment. There will be a resident staff of both gardeners and scholars. Visiting scholars and gardeners will be in residence for varying periods while working on projects. Links to leading academic and
other institutions with appropriate interests will be maintained through a variety of programs. The publication program will continue along with and a series of small meetings on appropriate topics.

On July 1, 2016, Sir Peter Crane will become President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation to guide the institution in developing its program to facilitate scholarship and public dialogue on the uses, history and future of plants. Dr. Crane is currently the Carl
W. Knobloch , Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Professor of Botany at Yale University. His work focuses on the diversity of plant life: its origin and fossil history, current status, and conservation and use. From 1992 to 1999 he was Director of the Field Museum in Chicago with overall responsibility for the museum's scientific programs. During this time he established the Office of Environmental and Conservation Programs and the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change, which today make up the Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo). From 1999 to 2006 he was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of the largest and most influential botanical gardens in the world. His tenure at Kew saw strengthening and expansion of the gardens' scientific, conservation, and public programs.

Dr. Crane was elected to the Royal Society (the U.K. academy of sciences) in 1998. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a member of the German Academy Leopoldina. He was knighted in the U.K. for services to horticulture and conservation in 2004. He is the recipient of several honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates of science from the University of Connecticut and from Cambridge University in the UK. He received the International Prize for Biology in December 2014. Dr. Crane currently serves on the Boards of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Field Museum, The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Yale-NUS College, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and Wellesley College.


W. Taylor Reveley III, Chairman

Lewis W. Bernard

Thomas E. Lovejoy

Alexander D. Forger


William Robertson IV, Interim President