Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon once held approximately 2,000 acres just west of Middleburg along Rokeby Road in Upperville. Much of what was their former estate is now the Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF), which welcomed MBPA for the September Biz Buzz on a stunningly beautiful evening with spectacular views, food, and camaraderie.
Mr. Mellon was an art collector, a philanthropist, a writer of prose and poetry, and an outstanding thoroughbred breeder, as well as a Joint Master of the Piedmont Fox Hounds and a regular competitor at the 50 and 100-mile competitive trail rides at The Homestead.
“Mr. Mellon is on the Wall of Honor for the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, won Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Breeder in 1971 and 1986, and he had many, many outstanding racehorses,” said MBPA President Punkin Lee. “To name a few, Arts and Letters won the Belmont and was Champion Three-Year-Old and Horse of the Year. Fort Marcy was Horse of the Year in 1970.”
“And of course, Kentucky Derby Winner and Champion Three-Year-Old Sea Hero,” she smiled. “I will never forget that Derby Day. After the race, I got on the mower and when the Mellons’ plane flew overhead, I thought, ‘they’re coming home with the Derby trophy!’ Who can forget the mighty Mill Reef? Mill Reef was European Horse of the Year in 1971 and is still the only horse to win the Epsom Derby in England and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.”
“Mr. Mellon also had a string of steeplechase horses and retired the Virginia Gold Cup with Chapel Street, trained by Ridgely White and ridden by Willie Moore,” Punkin continued. “What do these horses, and so many more, have in common? They were all foaled here, right here in this barn where we are tonight.”
Mrs. Mellon was also a philanthropist, art collector, but added gardener and horticulturist to her accolades, leading to her founding the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in 1993. According to OSGF, when Mrs. Mellon passed away in March 2014 the direction from her Executors was that “Mrs. Mellon’s purpose was to preserve her extensive collection of books, writings, maps, and designs, correspondence, sketches etc., relating to plants, flowers, fruits, vegetation, history etc.” They also noted that “The preservation of her gardens and home was never a factor in all of the planning and execution of her estate plan… the only consideration was the home of the Library as the centerpiece of her desire that her collection be made available for study, research and learning…” which is what you see today at OSGF.
“We now have about 700 acres, a little bit on this side of the road, some more on the other side of the road,” said Sir Peter Crane of OSGF. “As you see, we do not have any horses anymore in the barn. The stables have been turned into little bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, so when we host the dozen or so residential courses that we run each year, the residents stay here.”
“We have an ongoing program of residential fellows and artists,” he explained. “Right now, we have eight fellows from around the country over there, some writing, some painting, some drawing, some sculpting; they stay for about five weeks and we rotate them.”
“Through the summer we host botanical artists from all over the world and we receive about 1000 applications annually from which we select 60 or 70 folks to come here.”
OSGF’s focus is Mrs. Mellon’s incredible library, which is focused on plants, gardens and landscapes, including an astonishing collection of works dating from the 15th century to the present day, including important American works such as Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia.
OSGF also offers a variety of short programs, ranging from afternoons to one-day courses to the newly established local education and outreach programs which involve local schools and community groups, and hosts open days four times a year.
Nominations for MBPA Board elections are due October 9, 2023. Please email Kim O’Donnell if you wish to run for a Board seat: firstname.lastname@example.org. Voting will take place online in November and election results will be announced at the December Biz Buzz.
The Bluewater Cocina has opened in the garden just behind Nature Composed. Simply enter through the garden gate on West Federal St and feast on delicious tacos and refreshing margaritas! Bluewater Cocina is open Thursday and Sunday 11:30am – 8pm and Friday and Saturday 11:30 am- 9 pm.
Middleburg Books is still a work in progress, but fingers crossed for a Grand Opening at the end of September!
Speaking of books, September is Library Card Sign Up Month at the Middleburg Library! If you do not have a library card, beat your feet to 101 Reed Street to sign up!
Autumn is incredibly busy in Middleburg! Remember to change your plants, sweep your storefronts, and keep everything looking fresh and welcoming all the time.
“If you need inspiration for your business, check out Common Grounds,” suggested Punkin. “They have totally filled the front of their porch and it is absolutely beautiful. So thank you to the Ellis family for showing us all how to do it!”
The rest of September and ALL of October are jam-packed with fun and interesting activities in our teeny, tiny town. Please check the Visit Middleburg online calendar for the latest. As always, if we’ve missed something, let Katy know at email@example.com.
“As many of you know, we have several new businesses, and three are on South Madison Street,” Ali announced. “These include Posh Pixies, Middleburg Books and Federal & Black. We are scheduling ribbon cutting ceremonies, so please check the town website for the latest.”
“Our Loudoun Certified Tourism Ambassador program is coming back on October 24 at Greenhill Winery from 1:00 to 4:30 pm,” Ali continued. “This is part of our partnership with Visit Loudoun, and we encourage you all to take the class! The CTA program focuses on what makes Loudoun a welcoming destination and provides the tools.”
If you’d like to sign up, please contact Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Middleburg Sustainability Committee’s Fall Town Clean Up Day is Saturday, October 28 from 8- 10 am. Please meet at the Community Center. Volunteers will split into two teams in order to attend to Downtown and the Windy Hill community.
The 1,000 Miglia Warm Up returns to Middleburg November 2-4, 2023. Please check the Town website for details and updates on this fantastic event!
“We have an important election for the County Board of Supervisors approaching, as well as for the Town Council,” announced Vice-Mayor Peter Leonard-Morgan. “Please make sure you are registered to vote. Early voting begins September 22 and Election Day is November 7.”
“I do want to mention something about the wonderful Mickie Gordon Park,” Peter continued. “You may have heard that some work is going on there; it’s nothing to worry about. It’s the tennis court being resurfaced, so that’s a very good thing.”
The next community meeting on future improvements to Mickie Gordon Park will be Wednesday, October 4 from 6:30-8 pm at the American Legion, 111 The Plains Rd.
The Middleburg Farmers Market is every Saturday through October from 9 am to 12 pm at the Middleburg Community Charter School.
There are no updates on the new Town Hall.
The September Biz Buzz Door Prizes were brought to you by Premier Promotional Products on South Madison Street! Congratulations to the winners Viviane Warren and Jim Nichols!
The next Biz Buzz is Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at the Salamander Resort & Spa Equestrian Center.