Japanese Garden and garden art at Hillwood Estate: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


I almost missed the Japanese Garden, my favorite part of Washington, D.C.’s Hillwood Estate. It was hot and muggy on the first full day of touring during last month’s Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling, and after exploring for about 45 minutes I retreated to the gift shop to cool off.

There, a fellow blogger mentioned the Japanese garden as being particularly fine, and I realized I’d missed it altogether. That wouldn’t do! Back out I went to find it.


And there it is, hidden in plain sight alongside an open lawn, a leafy screen of clipped shrubs, burgundy Japanese maples, and weeping willows promising both shade and a gorgeous tapestry of foliage.


Water is a playful element in this Japanese-style garden, as Hillwood describes it. Spouting arcs of water appear to leap alongside a wiggly “floating” path of carved steppers resembling millstones.


A path like this just begs to be crossed — with a little thrill — and so I did.


Pagoda sculpture with colorful foliage


Roofed gate


A pretty waterfall tumbles through boulder-strewn ledges from the top of the garden.


Arching bridges cross a green lily pond…


…accompanied by more arcing spouts of water.


Stone lantern


Another view, with the pagoda in the distance


Foliage is the star of this garden, with rich colors and texture. Waterlilies add a dash of floral ornamentation.


As I exited the garden I stopped to admire a rusty-leaved, artfully contorted Japanese maple with a (surprising because not on-theme) St. Francis statue tucked amid boulders at its feet. Simply lovely.


Speaking of sculptural garden ornament, Hillwood’s gardens are studded with classical pieces, like this charming faun with cymbals…


…another faun with a horn…


…and even a sphinx whose female half resembles a kerchiefed and corseted 18th-century dame!


Regally at ease alongside the expansive Lunar Lawn, this stone lion marked the spot where we Flingers were to have our group photo taken.


Arraying ourselves on the steps of the Hillwood Mansion, we stood as still as statues for this picture taken by Wendy Niemi Kremer. Want to know who all these bloggers are? Check out the Capital Region Fling attendees page, organized by state — and by country for the handful of international Flingers.


Next I explored the French parterre, a formal garden designed to be enjoyed from an upper-story window of the house. Hidden behind ivy-covered walls, Diana the Huntress with her hound stands as focal point at the end of a limestone rill that connects to a central pool.


Scroll-like swirls of clipped boxwood grow in four symmetrical beds divided by gravel paths.


A pretty container combo


Next I found the rose garden, which is also the final resting place of the estate’s founder, art collector and heiress to the Post cereal empire Marjorie Merriweather Post.


The cutting garden was a favorite of many of the garden bloggers…


…perhaps because it felt more attainable than the grand formal gardens.


And it was very nice.


But the Japanese garden remains my favorite.

Up next: My final post about the 2017 Fling featuring Willowsford Farm, plus a sneak peek at next year’s Fling. For a look back at Brookside Gardens and a Patrick Dougherty twig sculpture in Reston, 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.

Garden Spark talk with Karen Chapman is an early sell-out

When I launched the Garden Spark talk series six months ago, I was sure there was an unmet need in Austin for people who wanted to hear top-notch designers and authors speak about garden design. So far I’ve brought in landscape architect James deGrey David and designer/author Scott Ogden and also given a book-related talk and garden tour myself. The response each time has been greater than I’d hoped. All three talks sold out within one to two days and had a waiting list. The speakers were well received, and I hope it was a positive experience for them to be able to share their ideas with an intimate group of keen gardeners.

My next speaker will be my first out-of-towner, Seattle designer and author Karen Chapman. On October 19 at 7:30 pm, she’ll present “Foliage and Focal Points: Ideas for Gardens and Budgets of All Sizes.” I always offer first dibs to the people on my email list, and this time all the seats sold out within 9 hours of that private announcement. If you’d like to be on the Garden Spark mailing list for future talk announcements, please send me an email and ask to be added. Also, if you’d like to be on the wait list for Karen’s talk, please email me to let me know.

Karen is a sought-after speaker and the co-author of two books that have given me a lot of inspiration for designing with foliage combos rather than just fleeting flower color: the award-winning Fine Foliage and her latest, Gardening with Foliage First (click here for my review). While Karen is blessed to live and design in the gardener’s paradise of the Pacific Northwest, her design lessons about using focal points and planting for foliage to improve our gardens are relevant for us here in Texas too.

***THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT. If you’d like to hear about future Garden Spark talks, please join the mailing list. Simply send me an email and let me know you’d like to be added.***

Foliage and Focal Points: Ideas for Gardens and Budgets of All Sizes

“We all have sections of our gardens we’re dissatisfied with, but understanding what’s wrong can be frustrating. Instinct sends us shopping for more plants — often whatever is blooming that day — in hopes that an injection of color will solve the problem. Yet the sense of dissatisfaction grows, especially when the flowers finish blooming and we’re left with a muddled sea of nondescript leaves.

Focal points can help solve these problem areas. I’ll show why it’s important to establish focal points and talk about three areas where they play an especially important role. We’ll explore the use of containers, structures, water features, and artistic sculptural elements as focal points, and I’ll show how to frame and enhance these with interesting foliage to create memorable vignettes. With ideas for budgets and gardens of all sizes, this presentation will help you to become more confident and knowledgeable about transforming your own garden into a cohesive series of eye-catching scenes.” — Karen Chapman

After the talk, I’ll have light refreshments, and Karen will hold a book-signing for anyone who might wish to buy her books.

Speaker Bio: Born in England, Karen grew up with a trowel in her hand. After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1996, she established her award-winning design business Le Jardinet. Her container garden designs and articles have been featured in many publications including Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, and Garden Design.

She is co-author with Christina Salwitz of the newly released Gardening with Foliage First and also the award-winning book Fine Foliage. Karen writes inspirational design articles on two blogs and is a regular contributor to several publications including Fine Gardening. Karen has appeared on local television and radio stations and teaches two online garden design courses for Craftsy including “Gorgeous Garden Design: Foliage & Focal Points” that was mostly filmed in her own 5-acre garden in Duvall, WA.

Karen’s aim is always to inspire, educate, and share the fun of gardening with her audience.

What: Garden talk by designer and author Karen Chapman: “Foliage and Focal Points: Ideas for Gardens and Budgets of All Sizes”

When: Thursday, October 19th, 7:30-8:30 pm, with a meet-and-greet until 9 pm

Where: My house in northwest Austin

***THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT. If you’d like to hear about future Garden Spark talks, please join the mailing list. Simply send me an email and let me know you’d like to be added.***

GARDEN SPARK is a speaker series on garden design, open by invitation and hosted in a private home in northwest Austin.

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.

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

Summer-tough Foliage Follow-Up


Summer is my most challenging season as a gardener. Yes, really — not winter. I don’t care at all for hot weather, so I retreat indoors and don’t venture outside much until that first hint of cooler air and lessening of the Death Star that typically occurs in early October. (And then I enjoy being outdoors from October through May, a good 8 months, so don’t feel sorry for my being cooped up all summer. It’s like a northerner’s winter.)

The plants in my garden don’t have the luxury of hanging out in the A/C, so they’ve got to be tough enough not only to withstand months of 95-to-100-degree heat, Gulf Coast humidity, and (sometimes) lack of rain but also the neglect of a summer-wimpy gardener.


I fear perhaps I overshare about such plants, like an adoring parent with a precocious child, but here I am again for Foliage Follow-Up, touting the beauty and toughness of winter-hardy agaves and succulents, like this container combo of Agave parryi var. truncata and Manfreda maculosa, aka Texas tuberose, a South Texas native. Neither heat nor cold has touched this slow-growing small agave. While the purple-spotted manfreda died back in last winter’s freezes, it sprang back quickly in the spring.

I also really like the ‘Quicksilver’ artemisia (a trial plant from Proven Winners) filling in around them. I don’t know if it would be overly aggressive if planted out in the garden, the way ‘Oriental Limelight’ artemisia can be. But in a container it’s perfectly behaved and looks great even when I forget to water. I’m growing this combo in bright shade with a little afternoon sun.


Another combo I’m always appreciative of in the summer is variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’) and Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), which are not only heat tolerant but shade tolerant and deer resistant. They aren’t quite as winter hardy as I’d like in Austin’s hardiness zone 8b; both died back messily during last winter’s Arctic blast. But hey, they came back this spring and now look great, and on a hot summer’s day, what more can one ask of the garden?

This is my July post for Foliage Follow-Up. Fellow bloggers, what leafy loveliness is happening in your garden this month? Please join me in giving foliage its due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave a link to your post in a comment below. I’d appreciate it if you’ll also link to my post in your own — sharing link love! I look forward to seeing your foliage faves.

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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