Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spring Garden Day at Green Spring Gardens

Tradescantia cultivar

One of the pleasures of spring is attending the various plant sales, and the Washington, DC area has a couple of big ones every year.  The first is the Garden fair and plant sale put on by Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) to benefit the U.S. National Arboretum.  I missed that one this year but did attend the other big one, the Spring Garden Day at Green Spring Gardens.

Historical plaque

Green Spring Gardens, formerly a private home, is a small but wonderful public park in Alexandria, Virginia a few miles southwest of the city.  The house was built in 1784 and the landscape was designed by Walter Macomber and Beatrix Farrand in 1942.  The property was donated to Fairfax County in 1970 by the owners, Michael and Belinda Straight.  Every spring, on a weekend between Mothers Day and Memorial Day, Green Spring hosts a huge plant sale featuring nurseries and garden centers, plant societies, horticultural organizations, and garden clubs from all around the area offering a mind-boggling selection of plants and gardening-related products.

Green Spring Gardens
House, built 1784


The sale is wonderful, but so is the place where it is held; Green Spring has some great gardens and the spring perennials were in full bloom.  It was a glorious spring day, starting out cool and sunny.  It was the perfect day for walking around looking at gardens and plants.  I managed to get away without buying too many plants this year--I'm trying to hold off on planting a lot of new things until I see what has survived from last year--but as usual, couldn't resist a couple of impulse purchases.

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'

Viola 'Heartthrob'

I could have easily come away with more; Magnolia macrophylla seedlings at $10 each were hard to pass by, but where would I put one in my tiny yard?  And I was fascinated by a very exotic-looking iris but finding that it needed wet conditions made it easier to pass by.

Magnolia macrophylla seedlings

Japanese iris

But one of my favorite parts of these plant sales isn't the shopping; it's running into my gardening friends and I stopped and chatted with quite a few people at the sale.  My friends Bob and Audrey Faden have a wonderful garden in Arlington and share my interest in unusual plants.  I also spent some time chatting with Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener magazine, who seems to know everybody and everything related to gardening in the DC region.

Bob and Audrey

Kathy Jentz

So a bit of plant shopping, a bit of shmoozing with fellow plant geeks, and a bit of garden touring.  What better way to spend a Saturday in the spring?  At the top of this post and below are some of the plants I admired that morning.  (I forgot to check the tags, so would appreciate any identifications as to species or cultivar!)





For more photos:

Click here for more photos from the plant sale

Click here for more photos of Green Spring Gardens


  1. Nothing like a good plant sale to keep the gardening juices flowing :)

    1. And goodness knows I need something to keep the gardening juices flowing! Between losing several plants from the hard winter and spending so much time traveling to Buffalo to be with my family, this has been a very discouraging year to be gardening.

  2. I liked the selection - not what you find in the local mass sale stores. But, I did not take to the soggy ground in a few places.

    1. Yes, after all that rain it was a bit messy and there were some pretty deep ruts from truck tires. But at least it didn't rain during the sale!