cone flower

DC Smithsonian mall gardens pack a powerful punch

I’ve all but forgotten about the heat and the humidity and the bad hair, but I’ll never forget the 15 delightful little Smithsonian gardens along Washington D.C, Mall.

I had a quite a few favorites, so come along on the virtual Mall tour with me. I’m afraid I was so busy photographing that I didn’t link the gardens with their buildings or even their themes, so you won’t be getting a history lesson.  But, honestly, it’s all about the plants, right?

Ya gotta have a picture with the Washington Memorial coming out of someone’s head, right?

Laura, of Wills Family Acres in Austin, gets the honor in this multi-selfie photograph.

 

I’ll start with my favorite vignette.  I do remember this garden – it was Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Full of familiar plants and creative combinations, I also spent the most time photographing this garden.

I may have to find this Yucca desmetiana ‘blue boy’ when I get home.

It seems strange to travel to Washington D.C. to find a new-to-me variety of yucca that I haven’t seen at our local Central Texas nurseries.

That’s the beauty of the Garden Bloggers Flings – we learn so much about plants in other Zones of the country.  And, we sometimes go home with fantasies of growing Zone 3 plants in Zone 8b.  (No names will be mentioned but her initials might be D.K.)

These delicate hydrangea flowers prove a lovely contrast to the sculpture of the tree they surround.

Living walls like this are growing popularity across the country.

The vibrant and varied composition of this wall is a virtual rainbow of color.  This ‘garden art’ with its hues of grey and green would be a stunning addition to any indoor or outdoor room.

Bridging two distinct styles, this formal fountain and globe are filled with a variety of  succulents and draped with silver ponyfoot.

It certainly fits the bill of container gardening rules with its collection of ‘thrillers, fillers and spillers.’

 

This garden flanks the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as The Castle.

We did pay some attention to the museums and buildings along the mall, though I have to admit, our focus was primarily on the gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

These beds were full of plants I recognized – phormium, Japanese aralia, daisies, irises and lilies, to name a few.

Here, Mexican feathergrass, phormium and the ever-popular potato vine make a luscious lime combo.

Yucca rostrada and a grey agave (not sure about that one) are the focal points in this hot garden.

It was so evident that this garden was carefully curated for our enjoyment.

The building acts as a backdrop of these collections of coneflowers. The urn helps to give this part of the garden an English Cottage feel.

I’ll leave you with one last vignette — another colorful and contrasting combo of color and texture and form.

They grey/green of this yucca rostrata, paired with the delicate lavender blooms of, well, lavender make a lovely picture together.

The razor-thin straps of the yucca offer a completely different structure than the long, thin, wispy stalks of the lavender blooms.

This conifer is from another garden, although I forget which one. I fell in love with conifers in Chicago at the second fling.  One of our stops was a conifer farm with dozens and dozens of different varieties.  The texture and form often hold a surprise, with their almost rubber-like, thick leaves or long, fine needles.  My garden has a perfect spot for this one; sadly, it would fry in Austin.

These chives look like perky lollipops in the garden.

In spite of the sauna, we powered through it like heat-tolerant Texans, willing to do most anything to see beautiful gardens.

Garden Bloggers Fling cottage-style garden of Casa Mariposa

Long, hot days and late nights aside, the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling, held two weekends ago in the Northern Virginia/DC area, had it all.  Surrounded by friends old and new, we toured botanical gardens, private gardens and the many gardens along the National Mall in D.C.

The Fling team did a fabulous job of hosting and things ran like clockwork.  Our chief organizer and hostess writes a garden blog at Casa Mariposa.  We were all excited to see her garden in person.

This quaint arbor and gate mark the entrance to the back garden.

The back garden was overflowing with a rainbow of blooms .

The back was a pollinator’s paradise,

Sweet birdhouses dotted the garden.

A collection of pots and garden art lined the back steps into the house.

A dry creek helps with drainage and provides a hardscape contrast to the delicate flowers.

The shady parts of the garden are brightened by variegated plants.

Bloggers, bloggers everywhere!

I may have to steal this clever idea.  Since dogs always want to run the fence line, we need to work with them, not against them! A cleverly concealed little fence gives the dogs room to run to their hearts’ content without tearing through the beds.

I loved all of the complimentary and contrasting colors in her garden.  I think this combination was my favorite. Opposites really do attract!

Stayed tuned for many more posts about the beautiful Fling gardens.

Greening up the garden on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

After several gifts of much-needed rain this spring, the garden is beaming with delight. (As are the weeds, but that’s another story.)

We barely saw winter this year, it made a few stops nearby, but never stayed long enough to qualify for a freeze at my house.

Having happily forgone dormancy, many plants in the garden are big and bursting with blooms well ahead of their traditional schedules. So here is a peek into my garden as I celebrate Garden Bloggers Bloom day, created by Carol of May Dreams Gardens
.

This tropical hibiscus was never expected to make it through the winter – I planted two them knowing I’d probably have to replace them this spring, but low and behold, they are happily blooming again.

Euphorbia ‘Ascot rainbow’ against the backdrop of native prairie verbena.

Jerusalem sage, Phlomis, getting cozy with some Salvia Greggii in the front bed.

New additions to my shade garden last year, I added both solid yellow and fruit cocktail shrimp plant to the palette.

Purple and fuchsia dominate the end of the front bed. The irises in the foreground are done already, but they were a lovely lavender.

Scuttelaria wrightii, purple skullcap, enjoyed our warm spring and is trailing out into the walkway.


I replanted Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ again this year where I had some holes in the front bed. It makes a nice contrast agains the sculptural foxtail ferns.

A tidy, low, mounding shrub, Catmint ‘Walker’s Low,’ is one of my favorites.

The Salvia ‘Mexican limelight’ on the right and back of this photo is only sporting a few blooms right now, but soon it will create a nice contrast against the yellow Calylophus in the front.

The butterflies homed right in on this native butterfly weed — they knew I’d planted it just for them. (Along with dill, parsley, fennel and many other host/food plants.)

This explosion of four-nerve daisies came flying over from the bed on the other side of the driveway and clearly like where they landed!

More prairie verbena in driveway bed, set against the Lantana ‘horrida,’ — purple and orange is one of my go-to color combos.

Early spring and much-needed rains also mean an early pruning season in the garden. I’m not quite as excited about that result.

Here, the Jerusalem sage, Salvia greggii, Zexmenia, Mexican feather grass and Mexican honesuckle are getting just a little too neighborly for my taste. I’m gonna have to go break up the fight out there this week!

I’ve twice tried to plant Cardoon in this bed with no success. This year, voila! This plant, put in last summer, overwintered well and is rewarding me with blooms.

I love its color and its beautiful, exotic form.

The cardoon, related to the artichoke, is enjoyed frequently in Mediterranean cuisine. It is grown primarily for its thick stalks, which can be braised, stewed or deep-fried.

I’ve also grown artichokes many times in the past, but usually let the chokes bloom instead of eating them. They are just too pretty to eat, in my opinion.

I think I’ll try to cook a few of the stalks of this cardoon – just to see what it tastes like.

Most of my lantana is blooming throughout the garden. Purple trailing lantana is backed by Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front walkway bed.

I think this is Lantana ‘cherry sunrise’ on the side of the house. Unlike the native ‘horrida’ which can take over your garden – growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall – this cultivar is a very compact and orderly size of 2-3 feet wide.

The first of several rock roses began blooming this week. Pavonia lasiopetala is a tough native plant, but the deer find it tasty, so it has to live inside of the fence.

This daylily, ‘grape magic’ was ordered from Olallie Daylily Gardens when I created the daylily bed in 2008. It was advertised as an August bloomer. Just a tad early this year~!

This is Mexican flame vine, hard at work brightening up this section of fence.

These daylilies are not in the daylily bed, but out by the pool. I don’t know the cultivar, and they look a little washed out in this photo – they are a very deep, velvety maroon color.

Just down the way in the pool bed, this Pride of Barbados has also begun to bloom, well in advance of its traditional August arrival.

Last year’s addition to the pool bed was this Iochroma ‘royal queen.’

I didn’t realize how well it would do in this spot, so I’ll have to keep pruning it. I might have to get a few more to put in other spots in the bed now that I’ve seen how much they like it.

Clematis pitcheri is crawling with delicate little blooms.

Although I like the bright blue larkspur the best, the white and pale blue are the most prominent in the cutting garden this spring.

Leonotis leonurus, lion’s tail, ‘carefree beauty’ rose and Salvia ‘indigo spires’ are all blooming at once in the cutting garden.

Our recent rains have been good for these salvias. In times of drought, they really fade back.

Plenty of chow for pollinators in this garden!

I planted a few 4″ pots of Limonium sinuatum, (statice) in the garden last month. After all, a cutting garden needs some of this bouquet staple, doesn’t it?

The Echinacea reseed in this small spot and come back in droves, year after year.

Behind the pool, the transplanted Salvia ‘Amistad’ adapted very well and is bordered by yellow bulbine.

Behind our fence, the oleander I planted last year as a screen is doing its job. I will probably add a few more this year so we can start taking out some cedars.

The Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front bed makes a dramatic statement.

The Texas Yellow Star, or Lindheimera texana daisy, reseeded into my decomposed granite path and now towers above all of the other low-growers. It doesn’t really matter, though, because the bluebonnets and wine cups have already taken over the entire path, so the yellow star can be right at home.

We may be in for an early, hot summer, but I’m ok with that since I’ve enjoyed so many beautiful early blooms in the garden. What’s blooming in your garden today?

Bumper crop of coneflowers promising a colorful summer…

Newsflash: I’ve decided to see the garden as half full. Instead of crying over the spilled milk atrocities of our winter, I’m going to focus on the positive. Sure, things died. And buds got zapped. And agaves turned to mush. I can’t do a darned thing about it.

 I’m chanting my garden mantra: “I am NOT in charge.”

Ok. Enough said. So, what’s going to be beautiful in my garden this year?

Cone flowers. Echinacea purpurea is one of my favorites.  It’s just so perky all the time.

And from the looks of it, it’s going to be a banner year for them.  This is a cluster of cone flower plants that’s jammed packed — there’s just foliage growing in the garden right now, but soon they will be beautiful like the picture of last year’s in the pictures above and below. 

I need to thin them out and spread them around – I love being my own nursery!

While the most common color around here is the purple, I also have some of the white variety in the garden, too.   Don’t they just make you want to smile?

Here’s to a wonderful week!