Spring at Dodona Manor

In the words of Robin Williams, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” At General and Mrs. Marshall’s Leesburg home, Dodona Manor, spring has brought 80 parties since the couple purchased the property in 1941. As an avid gardener and amateur arborist, George Marshall loved nothing more than to escape the trials of public life knee-deep in compost. In March 1942, Marshall wrote to the president of the Burpee Seed Company, saying, “There is nothing I would so much prefer to do this spring as to turn my mind to the wholesome business of gardening rather than the terrible problems and tragedies of war.”

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and landscape architects, Dodona Manor continues to provide respite for visitors well into the 21st century, just as it did for General and Mrs. Marshall. April is a particularly colorful month for the 3.8 acres worth of trees, flowers, bulbs, and boxwoods. These photos give a glimpse into the past and present blooms of the Marshalls’ natural wonderland at Dodona Manor.


George C. Marshall stands by apple blossoms with clippers in hand. The small boxwoods that surround his wife’s rose garden are seen in the left background and survive today. 1950. Photo by the Washington Star.


Marshall pruning climbing red roses. 1950. Photo by the Washington Star.


General and Mrs. Marshall admiring zinnias. 1951. Photo by Life Magazine.


Katherine Marshall’s grandson, Allen Tupper Brown Jr., tending to his grandmother’s rose garden. The line of small boxwoods still survives today. 1951.


Marshall cutting plants in his vegetable garden. 1950. Photo by the Washington Star.


Flowering white dogwood (Cornus florida), one of the Marshalls’ favorite trees. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.

Two bulbed plants – pink hyacinths (Hyacinthus) and yellow daffodils (Narcissus) – blooming in one of the Marshalls’ original gardening pots. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


White daffodils (Narcissus) bloom behind purple Armenian grape hyacinths (Muscari) under a grove of oak trees. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


This flowering pink dogwood (Cornus florida) towers over Dodona Manor’s stone court. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


Yellow daffodils (Narcissus) and fringed tulip ‘Davenports’ (Tulipa) blooming at the rear of the property. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.

A flowering pink dogwood (Cornus florida) blooms in the foreground while a large dogwood blooms behind. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


As one of the Marshalls’ favorite plants, lilac trees (Syringa) are planted all around Dodona. The tree pictured was planted by the Marshalls and survives to this day. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


White daffodils (Narcissus) and a Catawa rhododendron (Rhododendron), a species of azaleas, add a pop of color next to the living room bay window. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.


Purple moss phlox (Phlox) covers the ground near Dodona’s front porch. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.

A line of eastern redbuds (Cercis) on the south edge of the property. April 2021. Photo by Cody Youngblood.

Cody Youngblood is a graduate student and docent at George C. Marshall’s Dodona Manor in Leesburg, Virginia. Follow his adventures @young_preservationist.