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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Elegant garden of St. Paul writer Marge Hols: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling


A lovely Tudor-style home on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue, just down the block from the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion, was a stop on day three of the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling.


It’s the home of gardening columnist Marge Hols, who welcomed us and immediately set us loose to explore at our own pace. I gravitated to the rear garden, entering through a wrought-iron gate adorned with a succulent wreath.


The back of the house is U-shaped with the addition of an elegant sun porch on the left and screened porch on the right, with a small patio filling the space between. To the right…


…an armillary anchors a small formal garden loosened up with prairie-native purple coneflower.


A flagstone path leads to a side garden…


…that’s naturalistic with ferns and other shade lovers. Peggy Anne Montgomery of American Beauties Native Plants and her husband, Dan Benarcik of Chanticleer (he’s in charge of the Teacup Garden), make a cute couple.


Of course I couldn’t resist peeking into Marge’s sun porch.


This room must be a garden-lover’s lifeline during Minnesota’s colder seasons.


In the sunny rear corner of the lot, a colorful flower garden is lush with daylilies…


…daisies…


…bee balm and clematis.


A pretty urn in the center of the garden makes a classic focal point.


It’s a charming space, and very liveable.


Thanks to Marge for sharing her lovely garden with us.

Up next: The formal Squire House Gardens in nearby Afton. For a look back at the grand conservatory and serene Japanese Garden at Como Park, 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 © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Como Park Conservatory and Japanese Garden: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling


In the South we don’t have many conservatories, probably because our winters aren’t particularly bleak or cold. But I’ve visited a few on my travels to northern states, and on day three of the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling, I got to see another one at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Como Park’s 100-year-old glass house is flanked outside by a long, mirror-like, elevated pond bejeweled with water lilies.


A sunken garden fills one wing of the conservatory, with a rill-like pond running down the center and flowering plants on each side.


Photo by Diane McGann

Our group of approximately 60 garden bloggers posed here for the official group photo. I don’t know if it was planned, but a naked woman streaked into the photo with us and then struck a demure pose. Hah! See her?


After the photo, we had only a few minutes to see the garden before it was time to get back on the bus, and I made a beeline for the Japanese Garden. Along the way, I paused to admire several bonsai, including this large eastern white cedar, displayed on a patio.


Jack pine ‘Uncle Fogey’ bonsai


Ponderosa pine too


In the garden itself, their life-size counterparts add height, soft texture, and a sense of age to boulder-edged islands in a koi-filled pond.


A zig-zag bridge of stone planks crosses the pond.


A roofed gate with lattice-style bamboo fencing leads to (I assume) a teahouse. According to Como Park’s website, the Japanese garden’s design was a gift from the people of Nagasaki to the people of its sister city, St. Paul.


What a lovely gift!

Up next: The elegant Tudor-house garden of Marge Hols. For a look back at a streamside garden inspired by Walden, 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.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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