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.


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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17 Responses

  1. Gail says:

    Tammy’s garden was fun and I loved the garden center. Nice capture of the Winery and views!

  2. What a gorgeous area. Fun to see some of the participants too. Thanks for the links especially for newbies. Can’t wait to see their impressions.

  3. What a great arbor solution! The honeysuckle roots are a brilliant addition.

  4. Hi, Pam! Thank you for documenting this year’s fling! Linda’s garden was amazing. I find myself wondering how old the garden is, and also how many folks does it take to maintain such a huge undertaking? That’s a full time job for a team of people. And, yes, it’s gorgeous, well planned and creative. Thanks for the peek! Kathryn xoxo

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hi Kathryn, those are good questions for the owner. She wasn’t able to be in the garden the day we visited, so I didn’t have a chance to speak with her. I’ll re-post your comment on my blog post about Linda’s garden, and maybe she’ll have a chance to answer about the garden’s age and how much help she requires to maintain it. —Pam

  5. Kris P says:

    Wonderful photos! I haven’t even had a chance to plow through mine yet but I’m enjoying reliving the tour through your beautiful photos.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks, Kris. I look forward to seeing your views of the Fling gardens when you have time. We all end up seeing different things, which is half the fun! —Pam

  6. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Tammy’s garden is as full of life and fun as the woman herself. An amazing feat to plan a fling and have your garden looking so good at the same time. Looks like beautiful country!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yes, it was an amazing feat indeed. And a big yes on this being beautiful country! The scenery on our last day, as we were bused through the horse country of Northern VA, was especially lovely. —Pam

  7. Laura says:

    Great Photos! You perfectly captured a wonderful day :)

  8. Thanks so much for your kind words! Love all these fun pics!

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