Enid A. Haupt Garden

Reflects the cultural influences celebrated in the adjacent architecture and the museums below

Haupt Garden

The Enid A. Haupt Garden is a public garden in the Smithsonian complex in Washington, D.C. Covering over four acres, it is situated between the Castle and Independence Avenue and has provided a welcomed respite for Smithsonian visitors and residents of Washington since it opened in 1987 as part of the redesigned Castle quadrangle.

While wandering its brick paths, admiring the parterre and hanging baskets, or splashing in the fountains, few visitors to the Haupt garden realize that they are standing on the roofs of the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley Center (International Gallery).

About Enid A. Haupt

Enid Annenburg Haupt may have publishing in her blood, but gardens are in her heart. Her father, Moses Annenburg, started with the publication of a small racing form. Her brother expanded the company to include such mainstays of the American household as TV Guide and Seventeen, a magazine, which Mrs. Haupt herself later edited and published. However, it has been her numerous gifts to build, restore and maintain gardens around the country and the world, which has made her the foremost horticultural philanthropist in America and earned her the Liberty Hyde Bailey award from the American Horticultural Society in 1994 (see Enid's Edens below).

Therefore, it is no surprise that the Secretary of the Smithsonian at the time, S. Dillon Ripley looked to her for assistance when the idea of the garden for the new Quadrangle was being formalized. The only unexpected part was how generous her gift would be (see excerpt from A New View from the Castle). By offering an endowment of over three million dollars, Mrs. Haupt has ensured not only that her garden was created, but that it would flourish and remain a haven for visitors to the Smithsonian Institution and harried urban dwellers in the Washington, D.C. area.

Enid A. Haupt Endows a Garden (from "A New View from the Castle")

Haupt Garden

Before [the garden] was so named, [Secretary] Ripley was well aware of Mrs. Haupt's interest in the project's landscaping, and suggested to Jean Paul [Carlihan, the architect] that she might finance a Zen garden within the quadrangle - a small jewel-like spot for contemplation....Two weeks later, Carlhian finally met Enid Haupt. She was scheduled to tour the garden site one afternoon with Ripley and others of the Institution's top echelon. The architect was included. "I had arrived early," Jean Paul remembers, "and waited in the mud with some others. This was in March, mind you, and of course the site was a morass. At precisely three o'clock, this very long, gleaming limousine pulled up beside the swamp and out stepped Enid Haupt. It was necessary that I restrain myself from taking off my jacket and spreading it before her."

Back in the Castle, Ripley asked Carlhian to explain, for the sake of the distinguished visitor, the plans for the new garden. Using a ruler as a pointer, Jean Paul indicated the various landscaping elements - the parterre, the berms and pools - where trees, shrubs, borders, hanging plants, and other beautiful things would go.

When it comes to gardens, Mrs. Haupt is yet another enthusiast. Impatiently, she seized Jean Paul's pointer and took over: "What's that tree? Where are you going to get it?" She noted the surface of a paved glade. "Is that concrete?" she demanded. An architect with stern standards of excellence, Carlhian recoiled in shock. "Madame," he exclaimed, "the Smithsonian would never use manmade material in such a project as this garden. That surface is granite!" Mrs. Haupt nodded in satisfaction and continued her quiz. When she finished, she turned to Secretary Ripley. "I'm not interested in putting money into a Zen garden," she said. Faces fell. "I'm only interested in financing the whole thing. The entire garden. How much do you think it will cost?" Since then it has been the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Enid's Edens

The Enid A. Haupt Glass Garden, Howard A. Rusk Institute, NYU Medical Center, New York City

The gift of which Mrs. Haupt is proudest, the garden provides not only a green respite from the sterile environs of the hospital, but also a place where patients can engage in horticultural therapy.

The Conservatory at New York Botanical Garden, New York City

A gift of $5 million dollars saved the Victorian greenhouse from an unseemly demise in a swamp. Beatifully restored, it is now a showcase at the New York Botanical Garden.

The Haupt Fountains on the Ellipse, Washington, D.C.

Working with First Lady Pat Nixon, Mrs. Haupt planned these dark purple granite fountains, which lie between the White House and the Washington Monument.

River Farm, Alexandria, Virginia

When Mrs. Haupt bought River Farm and donated it to the American Horticultural Society as their headquarters, her only stipulation was that the grounds, all 27 acres, would be open to the public.

The Cloisters, New York City

Mrs. Haupt's gift of $1.5 million dollars for the day-to-day maintenance of the gardens at the Metropolitan Museum's collection of medieval art illustrates well her understanding of the realities of preserving large public gardens.

The Enid A. Haupt Library Annex, Horticultural Society of New York, New York City

A quiet reading room with collections designed to appeal to children, whom Mrs. Haupt hopes will discover the same love of gardening that she did.

The National Wildflower Research Center, Austin, Texas

Mrs. Haupt helped First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to found this research center for the preservation of wildflowers.

Monet's Studio, Giverny, France

While painting her portrait, Gerard Van de Kemp happened to mention to Mrs. Haupt that he was attempting to restore Monet's studio and gardens at Giverny, specifically to provide a place for the cultivation and display orchids. Not surprisingly, that was all Mrs. Haupt needed to hear in order to provide a generous gift to ensure the presence of orchids at Giverny.

May 10 - December 2020


Habitat is a Smithsonian-wide exhibition exploring one big idea - Protecting habitats protects life.

Learn more about the exhibit

Garden Highlights

Parterre, Haupt Gardens

The Parterre

The Parterre, the centerpiece of the Haupt Garden, is a carefully manicured garden with a changing palette of colors, shapes, and textures. Because formal parterres are typically associated with the elaborate designs of the Victorian era, a garden type was a natural choice to complement the ornate architecture of the adjacent Smithsonian Castle. Throughout the year, layers of colorful plantings are meticulously laid out in symmetrical patterns that are redesigned every few seasons. Designs incorporate such motifs as diamonds, fleurs-de-lis, scallops, and swags.

While parterre is a French term meaning "on the ground," parterres as an ornamental garden style originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy. The style, which defines the garden space through hedges, flowers, grass, and gravel was adapted in France in the 1580's and became exceedingly popular. Parterres fell out of favor during a shift to more naturalistic designs in 18th century Europe and America. actually predates the creation of the Enid A. Haupt Garden. In celebration of America's bicentennial, a parterre, inspired by a design from the 1876 Centennial Exposition's Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia, was created behind the Smithsonian Castle in the south yard. When the Enid A. Haupt Garden was created the parterre was saved and incorporated into the new formal garden.

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Moongate, Haupt Gardens

Moongate Garden

The Moongate Garden, designed by architect Jean Paul Carlhian, was inspired by the gardens and architecture of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. The Temple of Heaven was designed using a geometrical, axial layout, centered around the cardinal points of the compass. The garden is meant to take its visitors to a relaxing place usually surrounded by water where they may absorb the cool air emanating from the water.

Granite and water are used abundantly in the Moongate Garden; water in fact is the dominant feature. Rocks and water in Chinese culture symbolize the basic constituents of nature. Rock is thought to symbolize the body of the earth while water symbolizes the spirit thereof. The water's reflection gives the garden the appearance of being larger than it actually is. It gives off shimmering light effects in the sunlight and reflects the glow of the moon at night.

The overall circular pool design of the Moongate Garden is meant to remind us of the windows in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, a technique that Carlhian also applied to the Fountain Garden. The path leading into the Moongate Garden enters at the southwest corner and exists at the northeast corner. Carlhian call this the "pinwheel treatment" and utilized it to align important features of the Arts and Industries Building with the Freer Gallery

The garden near the Sackler Gallery feature two 9-foot-tall pink granite moon gates on either side of a pool that is paved with half-round pieces of granite. Two more gates are laid flat to provide seating in opposite corners. The gates are strategically placed to frame important features of the surrounding landscape. This is intended to be a sunny garden that is enjoyed by visitors on cooler days.

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Fountain, Haupt Gardens

Fountain Garden

Located beside the entrance to the National Museum of African Art, the Fountain Garden is modeled after the Court of the Lions at Alhambra, a 13th-century Moorish palace and fortress in Granada, Spain. (Moor is a general term for North African Muslims of mixed Arab and Berber descent who conquered Spain in the 8th century.)

As with most Islamic gardens, the Fountain Garden is geometrically symmetrical and includes a central fountain and water channels. The garden suggests a walled paradise, an important concept in early Persian and Islamic garden design. The water channels on top of the low walls around the central fountain represent four rivers of paradise described in the Koran; the bubbling center jet symbolizes paradise itself. At the garden's north end, a chadar ('veil' of cascading water) streams down a carved stone wall.

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Renwick Gates, Haupt Gardens

Renwick Gates

The cast iron carriage gates at the Independence Avenue entrance to the Enid A. Haupt Garden were based on an 1849 drawing by James Renwick, Jr., architect of the Smithsonian Institution Castle. The designed included piers made of the same sandstone that went into the Castle's great reddish walls.

In 1979, Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley asked James Goode, keeper of the Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle), to supervise the design and construction of the gardens. The first challenge was finding the stone to build the gate piers. The quarry that produced this stone is located 23 miles upstream from Washington, DC at Seneca, Maryland within the National Historic Park that preserves the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Mr. Goode discovered a number of huge boulders lying about the Seneca quarry. The National Park Service gave the Smithsonian special permission to take out enough stone for the four piers of what are now called the Renwick Gates.

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Downing Urn, Haupt Gardens

Downing Urn

The Downing Urn in the Smithsonian’s Enid A. Haupt Garden was originally erected on the National Mall in 1856 in memory of landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing.

Learn more about the Dowing Urn