Looking through these photos, it's hard to believe it has already been more than two months since the Perennial Plant Association's annual symposium in Baltimore. I've already written one long blog post about the symposium (see Five days of plant geek pleasure), and another with photos from the Wednesday garden tours (see Perennial Plant Association: the garden tours (part 1)). As promised, here's part 2, with photos from the Friday tours.
Hydrangeas, Aberdeen Creek
I nearly skipped the Friday tours! I had stayed up a bit too late the night before—and drunk a bit too much wine—with two PPA friends during an amazing dinner at an amazing Baltimore restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. I just wasn't sure I could drag myself out of bed in time for the 7:30 am bus departure. Moreover, the descriptions in the brochure—billed as "Tour of Annapolis Land Development Projects", water management projects in the Annapolis, Maryland area—didn't seem very compelling, and I envisioned beautification projects for wastewater treatment plants. But as I had the days before, I woke up well before my alarm went off. I had already registered and paid for the tours, and there was no good reason not to go so off I went on another great PPA adventure.
And what a day for an adventure! Unlike the Wednesday tours, when we slogged through heat and humidity under gray skies that threatened rain all day (and enjoyed ourselves immensely anyway), Friday was one of those glorious and rare late July days, with cloudless blue skies and low humidity. As soon as we stepped off the bus at the first stop, I realized just how far off my expectations had been.
Harness Creek house
Our first stop was at Harness Creek, a tributary of South River that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay just south of Annapolis. The challenge for this property was managing storm water shed by a vineyard on the uphill side, with the creek, subject to storm surges, on the other side. The view from the back of the property made it obvious why the effort was worthwhile. As with most of the other gardens we saw that day, and very unlike what we had seen on Wednesday, the gardens were less formal and more naturalistic, with an abundance of grasses and greater emphasis on native plants.
Tour group entering Harness Creek property
Harness Creek, back of house
Sculpture rising from grasses
Perovskia and Pennisetum
PPA members relaxing
Carolyn and the great big pot
PPA members, ready for the next stop
Begonia 'Art Hodes'
We were greeted at the next house by the homeowners and gardeners, Nancy and Pierre Moitrier. Unlike the other properties we saw that day, this one was not on the water although it had to contend with runoff from surrounding properties. I took it as a good omen that a beautiful begonia graced their front porch, and on the other side of the front door was a large Brugmansia. On the porch, waiting to be planted, was a flat of Saruma henryi seedlings. This was a gardener's garden! The back and side yards were packed full of interesting and unusual plants, including a dwarf ginkgo cultivar, a monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) and a hardy banana (Musa basjoo). This was a very fun garden to visit, and it was a pleasure to meet and talk to the gardeners. Putting this garden over the top, Pierre had constructed a very cool tree house that we took turns visiting.
Saruma henryi seedlings
Dwarf Ginkgo biloba cultivar
Monkey puzzle tree as viewed from the tree house. That's right, the tree house
PPA scholarship recipients Josh Demers (l) and Patrick McDonough (c) talk to Pierre Moitrier in the tree house
Pierre Moitrier (l) and Chuck Hinkle (r) in the tree house
Chesapeake Bay Bridge
After a leisurely picnic lunch at a private property on the Chesapeake Bay, with a view of the Bay Bridge, we proceeded to two adjoining properties on a narrow finger of land between Aberdeen and Little Aberdeen Creeks. The first of the two properties may have converted me to hydrangeas, never one of my favorite genera but the ones I saw there were spectacular. Alas, between the first Aberdeen Creek property and the second, my camera battery died. This was a blessing in a way, as it forced me to spend more time relaxing and chatting with fellow PPA members in a truly idyllic location, as we watched ospreys fly over the water.
Aberdeen Creek property
Grass and cattail marsh
Native swamp mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) in the buffer zone between the creek and lawn
Beauty berry (Callicarpa sp.)
Little Aberdeen Creek
For our last stop, we drove through the center of historic Annapolis (to avoid Friday afternoon Bay Bridge traffic) and across the Severn River. Since I don't have any photos of this property I won't say much about it, except that it had an infinity edge pool with a view of Annapolis across the river. We took a group photo here, and what you can't see in the photo below is that there's a 60 foot cliff dropping to the river behind us. Janet Draper managed to surprise us yet again, as several cases of beer magically appeared (including Baltimore favorite National Bohemian, known more fondly as "Natty Boh") and we all kicked back and relaxed. What a great end to a great symposium, for me at least. PPA members enjoyed one more day of tours in Washington, DC on Saturday but I was already familiar with most of those gardens and needed some rest and alone time!
Perennial Plant Association members (photo courtesy of Kyle Lambert)
The gardens we saw on Friday were so different from those on Wednesday's tours, and so wonderful in their own right, that I'm immensely glad I didn't skip them. As I noted in my previous blog post, I'm not a horticultural professional of any kind and I don't often get to see gardens like these. I especially love waterfront property and boats, and it was a real treat to be able to see such properties. I found myself loving grasses and hydrangeas, two groups that have never really thrilled me. And of course it was great to spend yet another day with so many people who are as passionate about plants and gardens as I am, if not more so. Perhaps these professionals see gardens like this all the time, but I sure don't! I hope this view through my naive eyes may give a slightly different perspective.
Click here for the full set of my Friday tour photos.