Before her death, few things were publicly known about “Bunny” Mellon, née Rachel Lowe Lambert. She was born in August 1910, and died in March this year, at her home, Oak Spring Farms, a 4,000-acre estate in Virginia. Referred to in the press as the Listerine heiress (her chemist grandfather invented the mouthwash, her father marketed it), she attended Miss Fine’s School in Princeton, and Foxcroft prep school in Virginia, and married twice.
Her first marriage, to the businessman, horse breeder, farmer and yachtsman Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr, produced two children and ended in divorce in 1946. Her second marriage, two years later, to the banking scion and widower Paul Mellon, provided her with two stepchildren and one of the world’s greatest fortunes (the exact size of her fortune has long been obscured by family settlements and trust funds).
An avid gardener, she was given her first flower book, Flower Guide: Wild Flowers East of the Rockies, by her grandfather when she was 11, by which age she was already making amateurish garden designs. In 1962 she was commissioned to plant the White House Rose Garden for President John F Kennedy. Read more.