Good Gardeners Make Good Neighbors

Photo of St. Mary's
St. Mary’s on North Glebe always has the most beautiful gardens.

 

There are two things I love about living near St. Mary’s Episcopal Church– the bells, and the gardens. Landscape efforts truly benefit everyone by making our neighborhoods more beautiful, and this property is a prime example. The church grounds contain spring-blooming cherry trees, summer perennials, fall color, and best of all, a wonderful group of Winterberries that glow in winter and perfectly match that famous Episcopal red door. Every time I drive by I say to myself, “Thanks be to God- and gardeners!”

Growing from Seed

 

I’m no expert when it comes to vegetable gardening. I plant things I like to eat, follow the basic instructions, and cross my fingers. It’s amazing how often this actually leads to food! This year I tried something new- okra. I’m not a particular fan of okra, but a friend said it was a beautiful plant and I should grow it just for looks, so I put one in a pot and forgot about it.

One day I was weeding out back and I noticed the container, hidden behind several other containers with big salvia plants in them. Lo and behold, there was an okra ready to pick! That led to some gumbo (not very original) and me moving the pot out to the front porch so I could enjoy it. But once again it escaped my attention because I suddenly noticed this perfectly dried pod and seeds a couple days ago. I asked Meredith of Love & Carrots if it’s easy to grow okra from seed and she said, yes, try it! So I will. I’ll let you know how it goes next spring.

Want to integrate edibles into your garden plan? I can help with that.

Consider the Labyrinth

Photo of stone labyrinth

I recently came across this stone labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. Once I started, I felt compelled to finish the walk. I don’t think that’s the intention, but I did start to think that this would be really fun to build. Maybe I’ll play around with a mini-labyrinth as a sort of pop-up feature in my gravel patio out back. I think the actual construction would be a very contemplative process- carefully selecting each stone, placing them side by side, following the curves. Of course I’ll need some larger stones- time for a visit to Sisler’s?

Landscape Inspiration at Pleasant Beach Village

I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Inn at Pleasant Beach on Bainbridge Island. Aside from a great location and a very comfortable and stylish stay, I absolutely loved the landscape around the hotel and shops! Everything was so much nicer than it needed to be, giving the sense that the buildings were truly situated within a garden. Even the parking lots were integrated into the larger scheme. Plants, water, sculpture, framed views- so many details were considered. A huge thank you to the many people who designed, installed, and continue to maintain this beautiful destination!

Far Reaches Farm

I had a wonderful trip to Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, Washington, yesterday. My mother, aka The Plant Collector, goes there on a regular basis, and we finally got to go together. If Port Townsend is in reach for you, go for a visit ASAP! The demonstration gardens were wonderful, particularly the greenhouse, which felt like a trip into the Rain Forest with towering lilies and enormous foliage in every direction.

If you don’t live locally, you’re still in luck, because they have a very popular mail order business. As for me, I had 2 takeaways: 1) I must track down some Melica uniflora f. albida as soon as I get home; and 2) When visiting, always plan to have lunch up the road at the Spruce Goose Cafe at the Jefferson County International Airport!

Sliding Door for Porch Screen

Photo of a front porch

Inspiration is everywhere! I alway enjoy looking around my client’s neighborhoods to see what people are doing with their gardens. This neighbor made clever use of a sliding door to create a movable wall at the end of their front porch. What a great way to create privacy without completely blocking access to the side yard. I’ll definitely keep this idea in my back pocket!

Not sure what to plant? Look around!

Photo of woodland garden
Ferns, Pulmonaria, Hellebores, Redbud, Astilbe and more grow at the driveway’s edge of this woodland garden.

Whenever I go for a site visit, I like to look around the neighborhood to see what’s growing. This gives me a sense of the area and also helps me identify plants that might thrive, especially with regard to deer. This lovely garden is at the edge of a long driveway on a very wooded lot. I was surprised to see the host looking so good, but you never know what route deer will take as they pass through. Maybe the proximity of the hellebores acts as a deterrent? I don’t know, but I enjoyed seeing it.

 

Peonies & Baptisia

Photo of Peony Bouquet
Peonies and Baptisia make a wonderful combination.

I have a goal to bring something from my garden indoors all year round. We’re at the end of the Peonies and Baptisia right now, so I got one more bouquet out of them (looks like I didn’t quite dust the mulch off some of them!). I love this combination. I used some variegated Red-Twig Dogwood leaves but they’re a bit limp to be on their own.

We’re on the verge of summer flowers now. I see the Coneflowers close to blooming, and the Black-Eyed Susans are starting. I’ve got some Dahlia tubers coming this week, too, to get started for fall. Better late than never!

Irises in All Their Glory

It seems as if there’s something new blooming every day at this time of year. Walking around the neighborhood I see iris, lilacs, late bulbs, early roses, dogwood, salvia, tree peonies, azaleas, bluebells, weigelia- an embarrassment of riches. Here at my house I have dozens and dozens of irises blooming, all thanks to a friend who transplanted some from her home almost 6 years ago. I want time to stand still now, but of course it’s their transience that makes flowers so special.

Rock Spring Park

Several times a week I jog through Rock Spring Park, one of our wonderful green spaces here in Arlington. There’s always something to stop and admire, whether it be blooms, new green growth, ducks in the water, or someone’s adorable canine pal out for a walk. In addition to Arlington Parks & Rec, a lot of volunteers make sure the park stays healthy, and I appreciate them every time I go through. And if you have part-shade in your garden, you can be sure that anything thriving here in deer territory will do well at your house, too.