The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library

The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library. Presentation by Spencer W. Stuart at Van Dusen Gardens. Saturday, March 24th at 2:00PM.

In a 1969 interview with The New York Times, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon (née Lambert, 1910 – 2014) made a statement of her approach to garden design that soon came to define her character as a whole, “nothing should be noticed”. This mantra, however, would prove to be difficult to maintain in at least one aspect of her life: her rare book and manuscript collection. Beginning in the 1920s with childhood gifts from family members, Mellon went on to build one of the most comprehensive collections related to botany and horticulture in private hands. In 1981 the Oak Springs Garden Library was founded on her 2,000-acre estate in Upperville, Virginia (an hour’s drive west of Washington, D.C.). Both the VanDusen’s Yosef Wosk Library and Resource Centre and Oak Springs are members of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries.

VanDusen Gardens Yosef Wosk Library and Resource Centre invites you to join Art and Collections Historian, Spencer W. Stuart, for a 45-minute presentation and discussion of some of the earliest treasures housed in this prominent 16,000 item collection amassed over an eighty-year period. The presentation will focus primarily on publications that offer early examples of horticulture such as the earliest book in the collection illustrating methods of grating and pruning, Bussato’s Giardino di Agricoltura from 1592, as well as Jean de la Quintinie’s Instruction pour les Jardins Fruitiers et Potagers posthumously published in 1690 and subsequently translated by the British writer and gardener John Evelyn in 1693. Of particular focus during the presentation will be the period of late 17th century publications, an area Mellon made sure to collect with great precision. This exciting period demonstrates a dynamic exchange between French and English practitioners with the support of a burgeoning popularity toward books related to the development and maintenance of gardens.

Spencer W Stuart holds a Masters in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, UK, receiving the Director’s Award upon its completion. He then went on to work with Bonhams Auctioneers, focusing on Rare Books and Manuscripts in both their Toronto and New York offices. Spencer currently resides in Vancouver where he operates a collection management practice.