An update on Recent Damage to the Bishop’s Garden

Damage to boxwood near Pilgrim Steps
Huge Crane Falls on Herb Cottage and Bishop’s Garden at Washington National Cathedral

Guest Blog by Linda Daisley,
All Hallows Guild, Washington National Cathedral

The century-old Herb Cottage building was badly damaged on Wednesday, September 7, 2011, when a towering crane being used to secure the earthquake- damaged pinnacles of the Cathedral’s central tower toppled during windy storm conditions, smashing the front roof and garden area of the structure. Long a main source of revenue for All Hallows Guild, the Gift Shop in the Herb Cottage sustained considerable damage. Luckily, no one was injured. The clipped roof, causing structural and water damage, will be repaired. The garden, mutilated by the huge crane, can be re-established. The garden benches, the re-circulating pool and walkway can be renovated and the smashed fig tree replaced. Though beheaded and damaged in the crash, the small bronze statue of Pan, the legendary god of forests and gardens, which has greeted visitors at the front entrance to the Cottage since the 1960s, can be mended and reinstated in its familiar location. The treasured stone walls which have acted like protective surrounds to the area can eventually be restored. The shattering destruction means a long restoration period and will require strong financial support from All Hallows Guild and its many friends and followers.

Incense Cedar outside Herb Cottage

As the crane fell on the Cottage its great weight devastated surrounding gardens. Nothing was spared. According to the Cathedral Director of Horticulture Joe Luebke, there was significant damage to plants and trees from the Pilgrim Steps to the front of Church House. The Yew and Sophora japonica above the Upper Border are destroyed as is the Weeping Cherry, memorial Crab Apple and American Holly. The Norman Arch is damaged and the Bishop’s Garden lost trees, boxwood, bushes and flowers of historic interest and ancient heritage. Peggy Steuart, chair of the AHG Garden Committee is busy formulating plans for the recovery of the damaged area and advises everyone to view the Cathedral website for current information. Rehabilitation will take months, if not years. Engineering and horticultural experts are still finalizing recovery options. Until then, All Hallows Guild –like Humpty Dumpty is putting it all together again.

We have suffered a "hit," but still expect to open the Garden to tours April 1st.

For updated information and more pictures of the damage to the Herb Cottage and Bishop’s Garden, please visit our website: on the home page under “Tours” or “Fall Events”. If you would like to help the Guild restore, repair and renew the extensive areas of destruction, you may do so online:


Casa Mariposa said…
What a rough fall the cathedral has had! Are they replacing the damaged shrubs with the same variety or trying something new?
Casa M - I believe that is the intention - to source the same plants, where they can.
David Bockman said…
If anyone reading this has a contact within the AHG, please let them know I'm fairly certain I have a source for boxwoods of the same age/character out towards Ashburn. Happy to help if I can,


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