Garden of E


My Info

Austin, Texas
I've lived and gardened in urban Austin for the past 8 years, after retiring from the last of my several careers. BR (before retirement), most of my life was spent in colder places like Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Boston MA. Best thing I've done AR-- becoming a Master Gardener. Other passions-- Austin Farmers' Market, grandchildren, and travel.

photo by Elsa, age 7

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Break from the Heat

A couple of weeks ago I went back east to visit friends. What a lovely surprise to see that it has been raining in the rest of the world. In the Boston area and up in coastal Maine not only were temperatures quite cool, but it also rained about half the time.

In Washington DC they say there hasn't been so much rain in 30 years, and it was evident in the lush, green surroundings. An old friend took me to see three places I'd never been before in our nation's

(note: real rain clouds)

First we spent half a day walking through the 50-acre Brookside Gardens near Silver Spring, Maryland, a spacious, Olmsted-inspired site that contains a variety of local and exotic plants--a very 19th century feel. Brookside has many specialized landscape areas such as the Aquatic, Azalea, Butterfly, Children's, Rose, Japanese, Trial, and Rain Gardens, not to mention a Woodland Walk.

Woodland Hydrangea

Indian Pink
Japanese Garden

Rose Garden

Kousa dogwood (Japanese dogwood)

and water, water, everywhere...

Then we took a driving tour through the 446-acre U.S. National Arboretum, a beautiful and fascinating place to wander in, preferably if one has more than a couple of hours. Established in 1927, it's an part of the Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture), and is equal parts educational and research facility. Many 'improved' plant varieties have been developed here; introductions from the USNA include 25 varieties of crapemyrtle such as Natchez, Sioux, and Pokomoke. Since its beginning, the Arboretum has developed and introduced over 650 new varieties of plants. Some of the collections are astounding, such as the 15,000 Glenn Dale azaleas, and 1000 daylilies, including 150 award-winners from the American Hemerocallis Society. Too much to describe here--definitely a must visit if you find yourself in D.C., expecially in spring. Here's the website.
The next day after a few showers we visited the U.S. Botanic Garden. Established by Congress in 1820 "to collect, cultivate, and grow the various vegetable products of this and other countries for exhibition and display to the public...", the garden's first greenhouse was constructed in 1842; eventually the garden was moved to the southeast end of the Capitol grounds. The current conservatory is a complete and accurate reconstruction of the one built in 1933, and was reopened in 2001.

The 3-acre 'National Garden' that now surrounds it was completed in 2006 and contains mostly plants native or adapted to the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as rose and pond gardens.

Box garden near main entrance

Inside the conservatory- Garden Court

The Jungle- the dome here is 93 feet high

In the orchid collection...

painted metal flower sculpture

The conservatory also contains desert, primeval, medicinal, southern U.S./Mexico, and rare and endangered species exhibits. I enjoyed it enormously in spite of the heat and humidity inside. Check out more photos and info here.

What a treat to get away briefly from Texas summer, even though it was still as hot as ever when I returned!


  1. Thanks for the visit to this botanical garden. It is always nice to hear of gardens in distant places. I may get to visit one day. Look forward to meeting you at the bloggers get together.

  2. Thanks, Jenny. Great talking to you yesterday at the get together. -Eleanor

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