Peg Bier’s woodland garden of discovery: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


Near Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, during the recent D.C.-area Garden Bloggers Fling, we toured the garden of Peg Bier, who’s been designing and experimenting with plants here for 40 years.


Peg’s charming yellow house comes into view at the end of a well-screened driveway. Plenty of sun gives her the right conditions for a flowery cottage garden on a small slope leading down to the lawn.


I love her “chemical-free lawn” spangled with clover blossoms.


At the back corner of the house, this surprising sight greets you: a sunken garden with timber-framed retaining walls and terraced planting beds. If I recall correctly, this accesses a walk-out basement, and what a pleasant view it must make from indoors. It was all very nicely done.


A geometric cut-stone path takes you, slowly, past cobalt pots of angel wing begonias and lush ferns…


…toward a deck where a rusty Japanese maple echoes those red begonia blooms.


The deck seats a table for 10 (wow!), with room to spare for a pair of cushioned armchairs.


A cooling, white-and-cream container combo


From cool to hot! Peg amps up the heat and drama with containers of angel wing begonias and big-leaved tropicals, accented with red ceramic spheres, at the entrance to a woodland patio away from the house.


What a show-stopping display.


The red patio, as I think of it, is set for company with a mix of red Adirondacks and robin’s-egg-blue metal bistro chairs and a table. Widely spaced stones in gravel segue…


…into a tightly fitted stone patio.


From the shady seating area you look out on a defined, oval lawn.


I love spheres of all kinds in a garden, and this mossy concrete orb immediately caught my eye.


Even better, here’s a triangular wedge of dwarf mondo grass accented with several spheres, which acts as a subtle divider and focal point where multiple pathways come together.


Peg’s garden has a primordial feeling, with sky-scraping trees and lush undergrowth and old stumps that look like fairy haunts.


It’s an expressive place, and surprisingly colorful despite the deep shade thanks to flowering begonias and color-echoing pots and garden art.

Up next: The Southern Gothic garden of designer Jeff Minnich. For a look back at the gardens along the National Mall, including the Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden, 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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20 Responses

  1. Diana Stoll says:

    Thanks for sharing Peg’s garden as you viewed it. Your photos are wonderful!

  2. This is a shade inspiration. Love those shots of color. I will be out hunting angel wings today. :)

  3. Laura Munoz says:

    This garden has a lot to offer me with my shade. Really like what Peg has done.

  4. Pat Webster says:

    Fun to tour this garden via your photos, Pam. I really like the triangular wedge of grass with the spheres. A nice use of an awkward space.

  5. I so loved Peg and her garden. I like that it is a garden where her children and grandchildren have grown up. She told a story of one of her sons coming round the corner fast on his mini motorcycle and ending up in the pit garden. Great photos!

  6. Kris P says:

    This was the last garden my bus toured on Saturday and I remember heaving a massive sigh of contentment the minute I walked into the space. It was such a cool, relaxing environment, and utterly without pretension. You captured it beautifully. I continue to marvel at your ability to compose nearly people-less photos amid a group of 50 other camera-toting bloggers.

  7. Really enjoying your take on the Fling.

  8. Dee Nash says:

    I adored Peg’s garden and Peg for that matter. What an amazing gardener she is!~~Dee

  9. I had the pleasure of visiting Peg’s garden twenty years ago on a garden tour when I lived in Northern Virginia. She was a fixture in the gardening scene in NoVa and was on a local gardening television show back then. Your pictures are fabulous. I love the color coordinating areas of Peg’s garden. It is so impactful, especially in a shade garden. It gives me some good ideas for my own garden. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Leanne. I’d heard that Peg was a local gardening legend but didn’t know the details. I’m not surprised, based on the beauty and creativity of her garden. —Pam

  10. Linus Chen says:

    Thanks for the photo. I miss watching Peg on “Merrifield’s Gardening Advisor.”

    How does she water her containers? Is there an irrigation system?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Good question about the watering, Linus. I didn’t notice a drip system on those containers, but they can be unobtrusive. Still, I’m guessing she waters by hand. —Pam

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