Monday, June 30, 2014

Sources of Inspiration

A couple of months ago, my good friend, Brad, the Black Knight of the Southern Realms, came to visit.  He used to live in DC, he hates crowds, and he was visiting at the height of the cherry blossoms, so finding something he's never done before and that he'd enjoy proved quite the challenge.

This is my friend Brad.  We're nothing alike.  Brad is a biker.  Brad saved me
from quicksand once.  We have lots of adventures.

I ended up taking him to Hillwood Museum and Gardens and fell in love with the place.  Hillwood is the former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune.  She's like Richie Rich, if Richie Rich wore stunning gowns and had a thing for Faberge eggs and Cartier.

When she passed away, she opened her mansion up to the public.  What I like is that the mansion is in DC (you can see the Washington monument from the mansion's second floor), but you feel like you're in the countryside.  The grounds are so quiet and peaceful.  Lawn chairs are scattered throughout and visitors are encouraged to stay a while and relax.  It's a great place for a writer to figure out a plot point or to outline their next story.  And it's usually not that busy.  I went on a Saturday at the beginning of June and had whole swaths of the gardens to myself.      

Please, stay a while.

I had the rose garden to myself.
Diana the Huntress

Then there's the mansion itself.  Oh my word.  Do you need inspiration for your next book?  Come on in!  Post was an avid collector of Russian treasures.  Priceless art, a room full of ornate Eastern Orthodox crosses, Faberge eggs, a chandelier that belonged to Catherine the Great...Post collected All.The.Things and the things are beautiful.  

This is the humble breakfast nook.  Chandelier belonged to Catherine the Great.
Plates belonged to some Russian noble.  Your nook looks like this, yes?
The museum also puts her dresses on display on a rotating basis.  Do not miss this, especially if you're writing historical fiction set around 1920-1950.  The dresses are in her closet (which is the size of my condo) and it can be easy to walk past them.  There are also a couple of jaw-dropping gowns in the Cartier exhibit that make the costumes on Downton Abbey look Downton Shabby.           

A few tips:

* Suggested price for admission is $15 per person, but if you get a yearly membership for $50, you can visit as often as you like (and you get four guest passes). 

* They have plenty of parking, but I love to walk to Hillwood.  It's a mile from the Van Ness-UDC metro and you can see homes with the most interesting architecture on the way there.  Plus, the neighborhood has a ton of cute dogs and if you're lucky, they'll be out on their walks.

* Bring a picnic basket (Hillwood offers complimentary picnic blankets) and have a leisurely meal in the gardens.  You can get food at Hillwood Cafe or just stop at the Giant by the Van Ness-UDC metro and stock up on goodies.  


  1. This looks awesome! I might put it on my To Do list the next time I visit my brother, who lives in Alexandria, VA, just outside of D.C. (As I'm sure you know.) The last time we visited my brother, we did a ghost tour, and then visited a creepy grave in a cemetery that was featured in one of the ghost stories -- The Female Stranger. Pretty morbid, but fun!

    P.S. I want to know the story of how he saved you from quicksand.

  2. Your garden is attractive and beautiful with colorful flowers. It's better to build a grass road.
    Helen@TEFl cerTification

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