Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemeter, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C..

Linda Holden

Meet Linda

Retirement in Bloom

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

A self-described teacher, historian, writer, and gardener, Linda Holden not only has a garden and a library, she’s authored multiple books about one of America’s most famous gardeners and some of the most prestigious gardens in the world.

A former Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) teacher who spent most of her career at Woodson High School, Linda began writing a few years before retirement and hasn’t stopped.

Adhering to the adage, “write what you know,” Linda’s first book, now in its eighth printing, chronicles Bunny Mellon, an American horticulturalist, gardener, philanthropist, and art collector. Bunny designed many renowned gardens, including the White House Rose Garden and Hubert de Givenchy’s garden, and she assisted with the restoration of the Potager du Roi in Versailles.

How did she know about Bunny? To answer that question, you’d have to go back to Linda's first job out of college. Although she’d studied to be a teacher, Linda decided to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at the White House instead. She started out working for then-President Reagan’s chief of staff and transitioned to a role coordinating the president’s travel. During her eight-year tenure, she met Irvin Williams—the longest serving White House head gardener. He was instrumental in educating Linda about the gardens and introduced her to Bunny.

Linda has since authored and co-authored several more books and enjoys connecting with gardeners and history enthusiasts across the country through speaking engagements.

Cover of the Gardens of Bunny Mellon
Linda during her band days 
at Woodson High School
Linda with Chef Patrick O'Connell
Linda and her daughter with President Reagan

After leaving the White House, Linda decided it was time to put her teaching degree to use. She began as a substitute with FCPS, going full time in the fall of 2003. She taught “all her hobbies”—life planning, gourmet international foods, introduction to fashion and interior design, and fitness and foods. Having grown up in Fairfax and attended Frost Middle School and Woodson High School, it was literally like coming home.

Linda loved being able to pass on essential life skills, such as cooking, to her students. Many of them went on to culinary school after taking her elective. One student even took her class twice. “He 'played' the stove like you play a piano,” Linda recalls. She was able to get another student a coveted internship—which turned into a three-year gig after graduation—at the Michelin three-star rated The Inn at Little Washington under owner and chef Patrick O’Connell.

And thanks to Linda’s White House connections, former White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier was on hand to celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated gourmet kitchen at Woodson High School in 2009.


ERFC is the cherry on top.

Linda Holden

Linda says she feels so blessed to have had the opportunity to work at FCPS for 16 years. She describes the retirement benefits as wonderful and characterizes ERFC as the cherry on top. Having the added income ERFC provides has been invaluable because “every little bit helps.”

Her advice to younger employees?
Set aside as much money for retirement as possible and educate yourself on your VRS and ERFC retirement plans early on.

While her writing endeavors have taken her to some of the world’s most exquisite gardens and afforded her opportunities to connect with famous friends in the culinary and gardening worlds, the lure of the classroom hasn’t faded. In addition to researching a new book, Linda currently subs for FCPS. She says subbing has provided a nice balance to writing, and she still loves being with the kids. All in all—for Linda—retirement is coming up roses!