My Year in Garden Visits


Posting on New Year’s Day is my excuse to share photos of some gardens I visited in 2015, shots not previously shown here on GardenRant.


First, the fabulous Garden Blogger Fling in Toronto included everyone’s favorite modern garden, above.


Flingers also admired this back garden we stumbled upon. In 2016 the Flingers will be gathering in Minneapolis. (See y’all there!)

The only other out-of-town garden I visited in 2015 was Chanticleer outside Philadelphia, seen in this post.

My excuse for sticking to mostly local gardens? Gathering photos for DC Gardens, the nonprofit campaign I launched last March to promote public gardens in the Washington, D.C. area. So yesterday I browsed my 2015 shots of local gardens for some new ones to share here.

Gingko espalier in fall at the National Arboretum‘s Bonsai and Penjing Museum.


Trials of annuals at Brookside Gardens. We’re hoping to publish the results soon to help gardeners choose the best-performing annuals this year.


Dumbarton Oaks doesn’t encourage visitors (owned by Harvard, it doesn’t need visitor money or attention, I guess) but I visited in April (here on GardenRant) and throughout the season.


Dumbarton in May.

The Smithsonian has about 12 gardens around the Mall, and this Butterfly Habitat Garden is one of everyone’s favorites.


Another is the Victory Garden. (Here’s a good video about this garden and the history of Victory Gardens, with horticulturist Joe Brunetti.)


And of course the Ripley Garden.

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My favorite museum in all of D.C. is the National Portrait Gallery, especially since its courtyard was enclosed (with a stunning glass canopy by Norman Foster) and the ground level designed by Kathryn Gustafson. Notice here one of her iconic water scrims – the thin layer of water moving across the floor. The courtyard is a fabulous space.


A gem I recently discovered is Tudor Place in Georgetown.


In April I happened to visit the U.S. Botanic Garden when the redbuds were at their peak in the all-native Regional Garden.


Meadowlark Botanical Garden in Vienna, Virginia has its own resident photographer but I visited in July and loved these views, above and below.

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But back in my own back yard, which I’ve shown you recently, here’s a panorama from a different angle. I’m using the pano feature on my iPhone more and more for gardens.

Since I ripped out the lawn it’s taken three seasons for the perennials to fill in – right on cue. (They “leap” in the third year.)

Seeing these and hundreds more photos of my garden visits in 2015 reminds me how much I love being in gardens, especially gardens like these that calm and inspire. Happy New Year, Rant readers. May it be filled with garden visits!


  1. That gingko espalier is something else! Next time I’m in D.C. (which is not that often), I will reference this and also look you up, Susan.

  2. Update: I just thought to reload your post again to see if the images sorted themselves out and they did, so please ignore my last comment about double photos. Thank you so much!

  3. While these gardens have their beauty.. there is really nothing that compares to a home gardeners gardening. These huge, corporate style gardens are so pre historic in their over whelming breadth they lose their interest.. at least for me. East Coast is great. .also doesn’t do anything for me. The money is another issue when exploring gardens.. These gardens are not for many.. they are for the few.. those that can afford the luxury of travel.. thanks for the effort but I will stick with my local garden tours! LOL.

    • Actually, with the exception Dumbarton Oaks and Tudor Place, all the DC area gardens shown above were designed for the many and not the few. They were designed as public gardens for people to visit. It is because of that need to accommodate so many visitors that they may not be intimate spaces designed and maintained by one individual. But they do have a purpose – to showcase plants that an average person may not see or have the space to grow, to provide a much needed green space in a urban setting, to demonstrate good gardening techniques or to explore some designs and styles that the average gardener may not have thought of but now are inspired to try. They also serve the residents of the region, just like public gardens in your area do, so they are not just for those that can afford to travel.

    • “These gardens are not for many.. they are for the few.. those that can afford the luxury of travel.”
      True, no one’s going to pay your expenses to travel to DC to see our gardens, but if you’re here, our major gardens are FREE. So more than probably any other city, our gardens ARE for the many.

  4. Lovely gardens, all of them. While I’ve only been to two botanical gardens (Austin’s and San Antonio’s) in my 50 years, they definitely have a place and a purpose. Maybe some of us who garden every day take them for granted.–I know I have. However, there are a heck of a lot of non-gardeners out there who need just such green space to appreciate flowers, trees, and nature. Maybe these folks don’t have the money, space, or time to garden or they need a place where they can see examples of the variety of plants/trees that grow well in their area or they might find inspiration in the designs they see. Perhaps they need a place to take photos in a natural setting. I definitely support the existence of botanical gardens.

  5. You are doing a great service with your DC Gardens campaign. I hope lots of other communities find inspiration and follow suit.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Thomas! I hope other communities can do something similar, too. Good for the gardens, the community, and the garden communicators who could be hired to provide the service.

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