Screening the porte-cochere (covered driveway entrance), two magnificent Kousa dogwoods, planted on a grassy mound, bloom through the early summer. Underplantings of daffodil and hosta add early color to the trees, and large white azaleas provide a gentle background. West of the parking area, steps from the driveway lead down beneath large white pines into the Oval Garden. This area was designed by landscape architect Meade Palmer. Although it was first conceived in the 1960s for President Edgar Shannon's wife, Eleanor, it was not installed until the late 1990s and was one of the last projects completed before Palmer's death. This landscape renovation was supported by the Alumni Board of Trustees of the University of Virginia Endowment Fund, Mr. David A. Harrison III, and Mr. and Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely III.
The low stone wall encircles a grassy center planted on the outside with masses of azaleas. To the south, the path winds around the back of the small cottage nicknamed "Buckingham Palace" (a two-room cottage dating to the mid-19th century) through a shade garden planted with fringe trees, bottlebrush buckeyes, bleeding heart, columbine, candytuft, comfrey, and lily-of-the-valley. To the north, the path leads to an oval walkway behind the Carriage House planted with camellias, photinia, fothergillas, beauty berry, and a Carolina hemlock. In the front of the cottage are ladies mantle, veronica, and masses of "The Fairy" rose. The short brick walk to the cottage door is flanked with peonies. Annabelle hydrangea is planted on either side of the cottage. A window box filled with blooming seasonal annuals adds to the charm of the historic cottage.