Save Bunny Mellon's Oak Spring Garden Foundation

Save Bunny Mellon's Oak Spring Garden Foundation

2 October 2020
Petition to
Oak Spring Garden Foundation Board Members
Signatures: 405Next Goal: 500
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by Tracey Mason

Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon was an American garden designer and philanthropist. Together with her husband, Paul, Bunny donated millions of dollars to charitable causes and used her wealth to do good in the world.

In the 1980’s, Bunny started to make plans for her estate upon her death. She decided to create a foundation at Oak Spring, her home in Virginia - it was to be known as the Oak Spring Garden Foundation.

The aim of the foundation was to not only protect Bunny’s garden and the life’s work she had created at Oak Spring, but also provide education and resources for horticulture students and academics.

In 2004 at the age of 103, Bunny Mellon died and in her will bequeathed over $300 million to the Oak Spring Garden Foundation so that her wishes could be carried out and her legacy continued.

Bunny Mellon's list for her Foundation Board members included Bette Midler, the late Robert Isabell, Caroline Kennedy and Bryan Huffman. Currently, none of these people serve on the Board of the foundation. Neither the current management or any of the current Board members knew Bunny Mellon or have exhibited an understanding and appreciation for her life and art.  

Sadly, the current Board at Oak Spring Garden Foundation has shown great incompetence and continue to display inexplicable behaviour that almost certainly would have caused great upset to their founder. Here are just some of the ways that the current Board have ignored Bunny Mellon’s wishes and continue to act with complete disregard to her taste:

1) Bunny wanted her foundation to support a tree-pruning school that taught the specifics of tree care, pruning and management, fruit care and production.  She built an "Apple House" at the farm and planted orchards for this purpose.  
The current management has converted the Apple House into another conference room space.  

2) Bunny wanted the formal garden at Oak Spring to be maintained.  She had detailed garden plans drawn and she herself wrote extensively about gardening in this space.
Bunny also wanted the care of indoor plants to be taught and provided funds for a greenhouse to be built near the Apple House.

The current management fired all of the gardeners who had worked with Mrs. Mellon, some who had worked for her for decades, and changed the garden, removing her plants and adding their own.  

3) Bunny's last building project, what she called the Memory House, was built on a rise of land near her library, to protect, and, as a repository for, her late daughter, Eliza's artwork, and family memorabilia.  Some people make scrapbooks - Bunny built a building.

Bunny also wanted artwork and furnishings from each of her homes to be curated in an exhibition in the Memory House.

The current management has changed the name of the Memory House to The Gallery, and gave away Bunny's late daughter's artwork.  

4) The current management removed the Sclumberger designed finial that was made of lead, which will not decay, from the peak of the Formal Greenhouse, and replaced it with a second-rate knockoff.  

They have also cut down perfectly healthy trees and built paths that ruin the aesthetic of the garden. Don’t you think that if Bunny had wanted paths - she would have built them?

5) There is a $350,000,000 endowment for the Oak Spring Garden Foundation.  The current management reported roughly $20,000,000 in expenditures in 2018, The 2019 filings must be submitted by the end of the year. How can the Board members justify such spending in one year?

6) Peter Crane, the current manager of Oak Spring Garden Foundation cooperated with Melania Trump in tearing out Bunny’s rose garden at the White House - therefore destroying what she had created for President Kennedy. Contrary to news reports, the garden was NOT restored to Bunny’s plan. What is there now is someone else’s design - not Bunny’s. And, Crane never mentioned a word about changing the garden, or giving away Daughter Eliza’s artwork, to her family.

With enough signatures we can demand change so that Board members at Oak Spring Garden foundation are reviewed/replaced, or steps can be made to implement the work and vision that Bunny wished for.

Thank You

Support now
Signatures: 405Next Goal: 500
Support now


  • Oak Spring Garden Foundation Board Members