Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meridian Hill Park

Jeanne d'Arc
Statue of Jeanne d'Arc, Meridian Hill Park

I've been taking lots of photos on recent walks around town but didn't have room for everything in a previous blog post (A midsummer miscellany) so here's a bit more.  Virtually unknown to non-residents is Meridian Hill Park, dubbed "Malcolm X Park" by local activists and still known by that name to some city residents, albeit not officially (or even acknowledged) by the National Park Service.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sun sets on summer

Equinox sunset
Equinox sunset just getting started

It's hard to believe summer is over, but my garden will continue to look good for several more weeks, right up until the first hard freeze (usually sometime in mid to late November).  So for now, just a few photos of the glorious sunset we had on the last day of summer this year, as photographed from my roof Monday night.  We have a view over Rock Creek Park of the National Cathedral, and you can see in the photos the scaffolding for the ongoing repairs to the tower that was damaged by the 5.8 earthquake we had 3 years ago (one spire was knocked off entirely, and 2 more were in danger of falling).
Equinox sunset
Featured on Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog, and PoPville blog

Equinox sunset
National Cathedral closeup (featured on DC Focused)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Smithsonian Gardens, part 2: Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Ripley Garden
Entrance to the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden on the National Mall

[Second in a series on Smithsonian Gardens; introduction here, and part 1 here]

The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, tucked into a narrow space between two Smithsonian museums, the Arts and Industries Building (closed for renovations since 2006) and the Hirshhorn Museum, is one of the Smithsonian's smallest but it's one of my favorite gardens in Washington, DC.  Like the Butterfly Habitat Garden, this oasis just off the National Mall is easy to miss, and tourists focused on the memorials, monuments, and museums will walk right by it without ever knowing it's there.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: September 2014

Seemannia hybrid
Seemannia hybrid

Bit by bit, the garden is recovering from a brutal winter.  It may not look like much from above: there are a couple of empty spaces where palms used to grow, the hardy banana (Musa basjoo) hasn't grown nearly as big as it did last year (see Everybody loves my big banana), and the figs were killed to the ground and are coming back from the roots, but hidden underneath all that foliage are some plants that are just now hitting their peak.

Garden, mid-September
View of the garden from our roof deck

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Beautiful monsters

Passiflora caerulea
Passiflora caerulea, a beautiful monster

There are some plants that, beautiful though they may be, you should be wary of inviting into your garden.  These are plants that grow so fast, so big, and propagate themselves with such enthusiasm, that they will bully and overwhelm anything the least bit slow or small or dainty until one day in mid to late summer, you realize that several of your most precious plants are missing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back from Buffalo


I haven't been blogging because I've been visiting with my family in Buffalo for the last week.  Now that I'm finally home I have a lot of things to catch up on, so for now I'll just show some of the sunset photos I took from the plane window as I was flying into Washington, DC this evening.  Please click on the photos to see them full size in my Flickr album!




Thursday, September 4, 2014

In praise of pokeweed

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana L.!
You are reviled in the online gardening discussions,
Weedy, invasive, hard to control
But if you're a weed, you're just doing what weeds do:
Growing where you can, when you can, conspiring with the birds to spread
And like your friends the catbirds and mockingbirds you were here first
(Along with poison ivy, virginia creeper, so many other "weeds")
You even predate the honeybees on your flowers (they came with us!)
So who are we to say you don't belong?
This land is your land, it always was:
Even Linnaeus recognized that you are as americana as we are, if not more.


As for me...
You take me back to when I was just a kid (albeit an odd child)
Using the beautiful magenta juice from your berries as ink
And when other teenagers were experimenting with marijuana
I was experimenting with a "weed" of another kind,
One that grew taller than me, huge leaves hinting at the tropics
But with tender spring shoots;
(My mother never knew if these things were going to kill me--
the shaggy mane mushrooms made her especially nervous,
although they were among the few mushrooms I could confidently identify--
but pokeweed, you're certainly poisonous if not prepared properly,
or so they say, I never tried boiling you only once; I wasn't that adventurous)
And with a bit of butter you were delicious.

Phytolacca americana

[After writing this, I came across this very nice blog post on the same subject at Nadia's Backyard: Pokeweed, American (Phytolacca americana): The Jekyll and Hyde Plant]