A Private Garden Transforms into a Public Garden

I recently visited a private garden near Frederick, Maryland called High Glen.  I would link to it, but at the moment it does not have a website (though it does have a Facebook page).  Its lack of online presence is mostly due to the fact that, since its inception in the 1990’s, it has been an exclusively private, family-owned garden.  The owner of the house and gardens is a real estate developer who carved out his own bit of paradise among the rolling farmland around Frederick.

It was an interesting trip, not only because it’s a beautiful garden, but because it’s in the process of becoming public.  (Now that development has reached his own doorstep?) the owner has decided to move out, but to transform the site into a public garden that he hopes will become a “national destination” within the next 10 years.

The horticulturalist who led the tour showed us a drawing of the ambitious plans for the garden:plans

The master plan includes a Grand Allee, Wet Meadow, Woodland Garden, Asian Valley w/ Teahouse, even a large area set aside for some Earth Sculpture.

What I found fascinating was being able to witness the very beginnings of these plans.  For example, here is the future Woodland:

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As you can see, it’s not very woodsy just yet.  The trees were planted just a year or so ago in what is currently a vast swath of lawn in the front of the property.

Here is the current driveway and entrance to the property, with a beautiful Silver Maple standing watch:

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A new approach will be built, along with a large parking lot, horticulture center, and teaching gardens, on another side of the property.

And now for the “Grand Allee” (drumroll….)

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They have planted two double rows of Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) which will (eventually) be a rather stunning grand entrance from the parking lot to the center of the property.  I can’t wait to come back in ten years or so to see how much the grandeur of this allee has increased.

Here is a shot of the main axis of the property, with nice views of the rolling Maryland hills in the distance:

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Alas, here is a glimpse of what’s to come.  You can see the encroaching development in the distance:

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I guess people are figuring out that Frederick, Maryland is a nice place to live.  And everybody who moves to a nice place always wants the development to stop as soon as they move in.  Unless of course you are the developer himself!

Moving along to another part of the garden….does this look familiar?

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The owner is apparently a big admirer of Dumbarton Oaks, particularly the Elliptical garden there.  So he’s paid an homage to that garden by planting an identical double ellipse of Carpinus caroliniana with a fountain in the center.  This was the first year the trees were big enough to pollard.

Here are a couple of other random cool features of this garden:

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The homeowners had created a rather stunning Mediterranean/dry garden.  Hopefully this will stay.

Everybody needs a dedicated Bocce Ball space in their yard:

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And while we’re at it, a sparkling pool landscaped with excellent tropicals…

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The owners have cultivated this perennial border for many years, but it underwent a renovation recently.  The borders were bumped out a few feet, and more shrubs and small trees were incorporated:

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Right now, the gardens seem only to be open to the public for special tours like the one I took.  (My visit was organized by the awesome Green Spring Gardens.)

The master plan won’t be fully implemented for another 7-10 years, but if all the plans are realized it will be a stunning public garden.  Unfortunately, the surrounding farm country looks like it will be largely lost to development, but at least there will be this lovely patch of green preserved to remind us of what used to be.

Franciscan Monastery

A few images from last weekend’s visit to the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

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Winter Outing

Testing out a new camera phone and trying to take pictures of nature with a companion who wanted to be featured in every shot.  At Green Spring Gardens. Alexandria, VA.

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Country Time

Like many of you, every once in awhile I fantasize about living in the country.  I’m pretty sure that if I actually lived in the country, I might turn into a version of Jack Torrance from The Shining and after a couple months of winter start chasing my family around with an ax for lack of nearby amenities. 

But thankfully, every now and then it’s possible to get a taste of the country life without actually committing to it.  Such was the case a couple of weeks ago, when my mother’s friend Bobbi invited us out to her farm near Harrisonburg, VA for the day. 

She has a charming turn of the century farmhouse, adorned inside and out with the coolest old farm equipment and tools….(pics by my sister Karen)Bobbie's house at the Busy B Farm

My son and I played hide and seek in her awesome barn, which is packed with rustic farm paraphernalia…

Tools in the barn

Baskets strung up for the Barn Sale

Cool sign with old bicycle in the barn

Lanterns in the barn

Jars in the barn

and as for garden ornament, how about a wheel wall?  I didn’t know I wanted one of these until I saw Bobbi’s…

Fence of wheels

Wouldn’t it be great to have the kind of property where an antique Ford pick up looks right at home in the front yard?

The Old Ford

everywhere you turn, you are reminded of simpler times, of the days before texting, tweeting, and twerking…

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Bicycle leaning against the shed

Sign taking you into the Busy B Farm

There is even a delightful stream running through her property, where we skipped stones and looked for interesting rocks…

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More wheels…Bobbi was kind enough to let me take a couple of wheels home with me!

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One of the wheels Bobbi gave me, at home in my suburban garden…

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Yes indeed…for me, full time country life = mental illness.  But one beautiful May day in the country = mental health.

View from the end of lane and the house at Busy B

Gardens & Sights of Waterford, VA

Waterford, VA, is a tiny historical town in western Loudoun County, about 90 minutes from Washington, DC.  The town consists of just a few streets, a post office, an old mill, schoolhouse, and a few dozen houses built in the 18th and 19th century, now lovingly cared for by their current owners.

This weekend I was lucky enough to have access to some of the houses and gardens in a photography class I took with my sister for a birthday present.  I still don’t know what 90% of the functions do on my camera, but here are some of my better shots:

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My Trip to Mount Cuba Center

Mount Cuba Center, in Hockessin, Delaware (near Wilmington), has long been on my garden visit bucket list.  It is a paradise of native Piedmont plants, and an inspiration for all of us living in “suburban woodlands” here in the mid-Atlantic.

What I learned: the key to a great Woodland Garden is open shade.  They had almost all of their big shade trees limbed way up, plus there were a lot of tulip poplars, which don’t have low limbs anyway.  There was plenty of bright filtered light for the wildflowers to bloom in abundance.

Enjoy the photos!

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You wish the woods in your neighborhood looked like this, instead of being smothered in invasive vines.

 

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Redbud, Fothergilla, Tulip Tree

 

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Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

 

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a native herbaceous clematis with adorable little nodding white flowers

 

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Amethyst Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon amethystinum) with Quaker Ladies (Houstonia caerulea)

 

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Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)

 

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Dwarf Iris

 

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A patch of dwarf Iris in blue — so cute

 

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Flame Azalea bloom about to open.

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Unfurling fern

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Ferns emerging from Purple Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida) plus some Wood Poppies and Bottlebrush Buckeye in the back.

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They also had fauna.

 

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Great combo! Golden Alexanders and Woodland Phlox (I think Phlox divaricata)

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I overheard a very intelligent looking lady say this was Interrupted Fern

 

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They have a lilac allee there, left over from the orginial duPont garden plan. Here is my sister taking a whiff. Mmmmm.

 

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I love these raspberry colored primroses by the stream.

 

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A view toward the meadow with Quaker Ladies in the foreground. I want to come back in the late summer to see the meadow in its glory.

 

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Sculpture of a maple samara that actually moves in the wind — neat!

 

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I believe this is a Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum) floating over a sea of Rue Anenome (Thalictrum thalictroides?)

 

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Trillium grandiflorum Double Loop form

 

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Trillium grandiflorum

 

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Underwood’s Trillium (Trillium underwoodii)

 

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Twisted Trillium (Trillium stamineum)

 

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Trillium grandiflorum – pink form

 

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A patch of trillium, I can’t remember which kind.

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The circular formal garden (another remnant from the original duPont house) was planted out with electric blue delphiniums and the most fabulous array of peach, pink, and yellow tulips of different heights. Awesome!

 

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Looking down at the tulips

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Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum). A unique perennial with delicate little yellowish flowers that hang down….hard to see with the green background.

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Phlox stolonifera with Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids

 

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Woodland path with Purple Pharecia

 

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Ferns, woodland phlox, trillium

 

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Viola walteri ‘Silver Gem’ — a Mt. Cuba introduction

 

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Virginia Bluebells, Wood Poppies, unfurling ferns

 

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Dogwood path

Garden Designers’ Roundtable: Transitions

One of Beatrix Ferrand’s most famous projects is the garden at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC, which is known for its lavish garden rooms and magnificent attention to detail.   As you can see in the map below, each garden “room” has its own name — Rose Garden, Urn Terrace, Pebble Garden, etc. — and each room is masterfully designed and delightful to experience. [Read more…]

Garden Designers’ Roundtable: Mistakes

“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.”

–James Joyce

13retain1_lgThen again, Joyce was a man of ideas.  I’m sure no contractor ever said to a client: “Oh, that retaining wall I put in last fall is collapsing now?  But of course!  How could something so bourgeois hold back the anarchy of our modern age??  Don’t you see??  It was futile from its inception!!!”

Anyway, it only took me a few minutes to compile a long list of mistakes that I have made over the course of my study of landscape design.  Here are just a few:

1. Giving landscape design advice to people who didn’t ask for it.  You might think that this would be obvious, but when you’re a new landscape design student all super-excited about what you’re learning, like I was, sometimes you can go a bit overboard.

[Read more…]

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