Uncategorized

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.

Lush hillside garden delights bloggers at Fling

Filled with a seemingly endless array of textures, colors, and forms, Barbara Katz’s garden provided a cool oasis on a hot summer day at the Garden Bloggers Fling in DC and Norther Virginia.

The back yard, filled with plants, stone and a babbling brook, evoked a Zen-like peacefulness.

The koi added a pop of color to the pond.

Japanese maples, decorative stone and conifers create a blend of beautiful textures.

This combo of bold colors is echoed in many different kinds of plants with similar hues.

The containers highlighted the same vibrant contrasts she wove into her garden.

 

Bloggers flocked up the steps into the upper lever of the garden.

At the top of the garden, a bench is tucked away waiting to provide a place to enjoy a contemplative moment.

This realistic iguana required a second look as we strolled through the garden.

Lush paths lead around the side of the house.

Bloggers spread out around the front yard, looking for the best shot of this cottage-style garden.

This unique and beautifully designed garden – cottage in the front and  Zen in the back, was delightful.

Take a step back in time at Hillwood Gardens…

It felt as if we stepped back in time when we toured the lovely grounds of Hillwood Gardens at the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area.  The grounds of the estate offered something for everyone.  From the formal areas to the cutting garden, Japanese garden and the pet cemetery, the patchwork of styles was delightful.

Filled with traditional and eclectic statuary, the grounds were dotted with whimsical touches.  This pair of sphinxes, half woman, half lion, drew many stares from visitors.

Across the lush lawn from the mansion, a flagstone patio marks the edge of a balcony overlooking the hilly lawn below.

I did not venture down the hill; my dog took me down on the street in our neighborhool 9 weeks before the Fling and I spent the entire trip hobbling around with a broken foot in a boot!

It was very manageable almost everywhere.  There were only 3 hilly gardens that I either couldn’t or chose not to navigate.  And I brought baggies to make ice packs for my foot every night.  The kindness of my fellow bloggers was astounding.  I believe that every single person asked me at least once or twice about how I was doing and asked if there was anything they could do for me.  It really touched me how kind and generous every one was.  Thank you all for your help and support.

In the midst of many formal garden elements, I found this border dotted with tropical plants and bold color contrasts a delightful surprise.

The Japanese garden lies down the path to the right of the patio.  The hillside garden winds through rocks and holds an extensive collection of Japanese style statuary. The stunning color combinations almost take your breath away and the varying textures and forms create fabulous contrasts.

What Japanese garden would be complete without a water feature, a pagoda and an arched wooden bridge.

The water feature brought an element of calm and cool to the garden, in spite of the heat of the day.

Down the path to the left of the patio a pet cemetery honors the furry family members of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then I found my way to the cutting garden.  Filled with beautiful blooms of every size and color, the flowers were also given a helping hand with stakes and a a full length grid.  About a foot high, the grid allowed the flowers to grow straight up through it from early on, ensuring nice, straight stalks.

One of my favorite plants for its exotic look and structural shape, there was a big patch of Eryngium.

And, a few more whimsical statues to close out this blog tour.

Back to the work at hand, we shoot each other at the same time!

Another wonderful garden experience on our Capital Region Fling.

The spring garden…pots, pots and more pots!

Spring is usually pretty warm here in Central Texas, and this year is no exception.  A few spring bloomers actually had a shorter lifespan because it got hot pretty quickly, but it’s been delightful to see Jerusalem sage, salvias and black foot daisies in bloom.

I’ve spent the last week or so working on clean-up chores and some planting.  We had company for dinner outside last night and so Friday and Saturday were spent planting the pots on the back patio and scrubbing the oak pollen and blowing leaves. (It’s all back this morning – with a vengeance – but it’s a rite of passage and I know it won’t last forever.)

I had a great idea as I was trying to be efficient in crafting combinations for the outside pots — take a picture of each pot so I could see what was missing or what was already in a pot nearby so I could coordinate colors, textures, forms, etc.  Wow.  What a smart idea.  And then I forgot to do it and  I still found myself at the nursery buying annuals trying to remember and guess and buy enough.  I always think of it like Thanksgiving dinner – you have to finish with that perfect combo of food on your last forkful, or you need more potatoes, or gravy…  I need another filler, or another spiller…  If you’re addicted to pots like I am, you get it.

And, yes, every year — EVERY year — I say …less pots, less pots…and then plants just jump into my nursery cart.

They’re all so pretty and bright.

I love all the hot, tropical color combinations.

Of course the dogs have to help!

It looks so inviting.  I wanted to sit down, I really did, but there was pollen to blow!

This is my favorite spot.  I’ll get to sit there soon — maybe tomorrow morning with a quick cup of tea before the week hits in full force.

Itching and inspiration in the garden…

It’s that time of year when I’m just itching to get into the garden.  Our yo-yo weather has vascillated from 90-degree days to drenching and seemingly endless rain.  My spring flowers are performing as predicted and I’m enjoying the bright blooms of Japanese Quince, daffodils, and bletilla.

Japanese Quince

The ornamental cabbages in the giant pots by the pool have never looked better, but I’m already eager to get started on starting the summer container plants in there.  I’m suffering from that in-between indecision about the timing of out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new.

Bletilla Striata – Ground Orchid

And the wisteria is starting to bloom on the back fence.

Wisteria

A few days in the 80s and even 90 and the variegated shell ginger and esperanza, Tecoma stans, are growing by leaps and bounds.  It won’t be long before they will form a beautiful wall along the pool and cabana walkway.

 Variegated shell ginger and esperanza

Daffodils dot the landscape like pinpoints of summer sunbeams.

Daffodil

Daffodil

I’ve also been planting on these gorgeous days.  I’m eager to see the structure that these new Mexican tree ferns will add to this mostly shady spot.

Mexican tree fern

The promise of spring and foreshadowing of summer energize me to dig in the dirt now, while the days are warm and welcoming.  So many projects…so little time!

Spring has sprung in the garden…

It feels like spring here in Central Texas, with sunny, 85-degree days dotting our early February weeks.  That might sound  more like summer to gardeners far north of here, but it’s heavenly spring for us.

The Japanese Quince has been blooming since the cooler, late-fall days, drawing butterflies to the sole flowers in the winter garden.  I’ve had a few white cemetery irises bloom and the peach irises opened up this week.  When I checked early this morning, I did detect the faintest sweet scent in the peach ones.

A few daffodils have opened.  A labeling failure two years ago is to blame for my not knowing each variety, since I do collect new ones each year.  But I recognize the Tete-a-Tetes and they’re starting to open in different parts of the garden.

Then yesterday, the Mountain Laurels burst forth.  I’d been eyeing the buds for several days, and trying to catch a whiff of the grape Kool-Aid aroma they dust on the breeze.

I banned myself from Facebook this morning because it’s been eating my mornings.  So, what do I do then?  I take the scissors outside and look for blooms to bring indoors!  I tried to put a peach iris with this little posie, but it was too big and didn’t work with these delicate little flowers, so I put it in its own vase.

Now, spring has sprung in my kitchen and it smells delicious — just like grape Kool-Aid!