Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


As we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day today, it seems appropriate to share my pics of the Smithsonian Gardens on the National Mall and the U.S. Botanic Garden, which I toured on the recent Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling in Washington, D.C.


A small posse of garden blogging friends — me, Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, Joanne of Down 2 Earth, Laura of Wills Family Acres, and Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden — worked our way east along the Mall from the Smithsonian Castle, exploring the gardens outside the museums along the way. (Thanks to Cat for the photo.)


The day was pure Southern summer — hot and steamy — but we powered through a 3-hour stroll, ducking into shady gardens and an occasional museum lobby for A/C relief. Despite the heat, I found the sight of the Washington Monument stirring, as always.


My absolute favorite garden along the Mall was the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, which wows with this dry-garden planting in the raised beds along the sidewalk. Shazam!


A closer look at the New Zealand sedge, flowering echeverias, and orange-blooming portulaca.


Silver beauties — an agave (foreground) and maybe a puya?


The conical roof in the background echoes the triangular shape of the agave’s leaves. An intentional design choice? I wouldn’t put any artistry past horticulturist Janet Draper, whom we met while we were admiring the garden. She is a talented designer and plantsman.


Coreopsis Update: My thanks to Kylee Baumle for ID’ing this as Bidens ‘Beedance Painted Red’.


Entering the garden you see a tiered fountain and plaza, with benches along the brick walls that make up the raised planting beds of the garden.


Handsome brick buildings make a nice backdrop to the garden, but the plants are the stars. I was excited to see several spherical, strappy Yucca rostrata in the lush perennials beds.


Beautiful combos


Dahlia’s dark-leaved drama


And more, with blackbird spurge


Chives


Under the shade of an old elm, chartreuse makes an appearance in hydrangea flowers and full-skirted hostas.


I like this combo of ‘Frosted Curls’ carex and wild ginger.


At the rear of the garden, a focal-point urn is planted with succulents and spilling silver ponyfoot and accented with a large steel sphere.


Additional spheres were scattered in a shady sedge “lawn.”


Along another part of the Mall, I spotted tall rudbeckia…


…and this cool bird sculpture in the garden of the American History Museum.


Eventually we made our way toward the U.S. Capitol building…


…and entered the National Garden, part of the U.S. Botanic Garden, which is planted with mid-Atlantic native plants.


The garden was mostly a wetland with a nicely designed stream and small pond, which were visually refreshing on this hot day.


It’s a good spot for bird-watching, and I spotted a robin taking a bath here.


I love this winding, cut-stone path and arching bridge.


The Botanic Garden’s centerpiece is a large conservatory, which we toured rather quickly, as we were nearly out of time.


I’ve never been a big fan of conservatories, preferring outdoor gardens, but I enjoyed our quick pass through the various collections.


It must be lovely to come here in the winter.


I’ve visited D.C. at least a half-dozen times over the years, but this was the first time I’d toured the gardens rather than monuments and museums. Unlike some bloggers who stayed extra days, I wasn’t able to visit any of the iconic monuments on this trip. That felt strange, but the Mall gardens were interesting and worth a visit. And I’m sure I’ll be back one day — if for no other reason than to see those famous cherry trees in bloom.

Up next: A woodland garden of exploration created by Peg Bier. For a look back at the classic garden rooms of designer Scott Brinitzer, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Casa Mariposa, Virginia winery, & Merrifield Garden Center: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling

Casa Mariposa

With a garden called Casa Mariposa, you know it’s going to be welcoming to butterflies — and, as it turns out, all pollinators. Tammy Schmitt, head planner of this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling, bravely included her suburban D.C.-area garden on the tour. I say bravely because planning a Fling requires a LOT of time and effort, which only ratchets up in the weeks just before the event. To find time to tidy and fluff one’s own garden in preparation for 100 visitors, all the while making sure everything else is running smoothly, is impressive. I suspect Tammy does not sleep.


Tammy welcomes not just pollinators but human visitors with a whimsical, ribbon-like arbor over her back gate. I didn’t stop to see how she made this, so I’m hoping she’ll chime in on the comments and let us know. Update: Tammy shared her DIY method with me:

“It’s four threaded rods with couplers at the end that fit into an elbow joint that form the ‘Suburban Gothic’ arch. One end of each rod is sunk into the ground about a foot. The lightweight plastic tubing provides more surface area for the vines to cling to, as does the dead wood from the invasive honeysuckle whose roots I dug out after cutting the main stem. Hops and cup and saucer vine are climbing each side. It should be covered by the end of July. This is my own crazy design to solve the problem of ‘I want an arbor but don’t have any room.'”


You walk through into a floral exuberance of coneflowers, daylilies, verbena, zinnias, and more — anything that a butterfly, bee, or other pollinator might find attractive.


See?


Of course, these flowers attract the human eye too.


And gnomes! I think this pretty flower is Rudbeckia ‘Solar Eclipse’ — correction ‘Denver Daisy’. It definitely has wow power.

Stone Tower Winery


On this day, we were bused into northern Virginia’s rolling wine and horse country, and we stopped at a local winery for a catered lunch. Stone Tower Winery sits on a hilltop overlooking fields of grapes and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the hazy distance.


A group of Austin bloggers posed here for a photo: first-time Flinger Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden, yours truly, and Laura of Wills Family Acres.


Turning around to face the winery, you can see how busy it was, with lots of lunching and wine tasting happening on multiple patios. Bloggers here include new friend Diana Stoll of Garden With Diana and Houstonian Shawn Schlachter of Ravenscourt Gardens, plus Laura, Diana, and Cat.


It was an appealing spot for selfies, even unintentionally goofy ones (thanks, Cat).


I like this one of Diana and Cat relaxing on the bus en route to our next destination.

Merrifield Garden Center


One of those destinations was Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville, Virginia, which generously put out this delicious spread for us. How nice!


The place is enormous, with lots of garden decor and gift items, like these cactus-themed botanical pillows…


…and charming sun ornaments by Elizabeth Keith Designs (not blazing-hot Death Stars by any stretch), not to mention more plants than you can shake a stick at. After we’d noshed and made our purchases, we were back on the buses and ready for more gardens.

Up next: The beautifully delineated garden rooms of designer Scott Brinitzer. For a look back at the colorful and plant-rich garden of Viginia designer Linda Hostetler, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

English garden in Virginia horse country: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


Attending Garden Bloggers Fling is always a whirlwind of garden touring and socializing with other bloggers. I come home with ideas bouncing around in my head, as well as a sense of new connections made and friendships renewed — not to mention hundreds of photos to sort through and share here at Digging.

This year’s Capital Region Fling was hosted in the Washington, D.C. area (including Maryland and northern Virginia) by the indefatigable Tammy Schmitt of Casa Mariposa. I’m going to share the gardens in reverse order, starting with a rural estate garden near Middleburg, Virginia — the last private garden we visited, and a vision of English-country relaxed elegance.


The estate consists of 180 acres, if I recall correctly, and a historic home dating to 1790 — which boggled my mind. That’s ancient for a young country like the U.S. As we walked up the drive, we first passed a fenced vegetable garden (top photo) and a handsome black-stained barn.


This is horse country, as Tammy told us, although if horses live here I didn’t see any.


The home itself is well proportioned and inviting, and the owner welcomed us here and gave us a little history of the place. She and her husband bought the property not long after they married in the 1970s. When she decided to make a garden, she traveled to England to visit and study as many gardens as she could before starting her own.


As you enter the left side yard, you pass a white stucco garden shed with a standing-seam roof and classical wall fountain framed by twin trellises, clipped boxwood, and bronze heuchera.


And then the back-yard lawn opens before you, flowing out from a raised terrace off the back of the house. The house overlooks a long perennial border (not visible here), past which rolling green fields spread out to a wooded horizon. Walking toward the white arbor at left…


…you enter a formal side garden with boxwood-lined gravel paths.


A birdbath acts as a focal point along one path, with white hydrangeas blooming beyond.


At the end of the path, two hare ornaments face each other atop a low stone wall…


…one of several charming animal figures I spotted in the garden.


The path curves around a flowering white hydrangea to a sunny border anchored by a semicircular pond.


Its formal edge softened with a line of variegated grasses and geranium, the pond contains lotus, waterlilies, and other water lovers.


A banjo-playing frog adds a humorous note.


For humans who love getting wet, a swimming pool beckons, with a row of chaises and striped towels that echo the orange and gray patio stones. Fence-lined fields stretch off in the distance.


A tilted verdigris urn cemented into the patio spills water into the pool.


Past the pool, a sunny parterre garden is backed by a picturesque, hip-roofed garden shed.


At its center, pink sweet peas clamber over a rooster statue.


The shed is nestled amid shrubs and perennials.


As the lot slopes gently downhill, the garden steps down into a sunken lawn framed on one side by a stone wall and row of trees.


Chinese Chippendale-style chairs make conversation areas at each corner of the wall.


Atop the wall, a bronze fox slinks past.


A stone birdbath with carved koi adorns another part of the wall.


A pair of weeping trees guards a white gate leading out to the horse fields.


Purple drumstick alliums stand tall in a sunny perennial border.


Bees were busy at their work here.


Hydrangeas, however, were the stars of the early summer garden. Here a white hydrangea overhangs a blue lacecap, with cleome filling in below.


Heading back through the white arbor toward the house (note the compass carved into the stone paver)…


…I stopped to admire more alliums in a long mixed border of perennials, shrubs, and trees.


A stone path cuts through the border, under arching tree limbs, to an inviting black gate overlooking sun-washed fields.


A pastoral view


What a treat it was to visit this beautiful, English-style rural garden in northern Virginia’s horse country.

Up next: The colorful garden of designer Linda Hostetler.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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