Holiday in Washington

Yippee! I've Gardens, arboteta, tourist places - my short holiday in warm Washington DC continues. But my mind is starting to turn. I'm just starting to make gardening lists, and I've made some fiercely responsible new garden resolutions.

Thursday 21st May

Wow! We are back from visiting the most amazing garden I've ever been in. It's called Chanticleer, and has left me seriously wondering and pondering. My thoughts keep slipping back to it. Mental images of painted pairs of garden seats are particularly prevalent - I've decided that Non-Gardening Partner will be mass producing Adirondacks for me when we get home to New Zealand!

My Garden is Way Too Small...

My notebook contains the following scribbly, rather scary phrase: 'My garden is way too small. What on earth can I do about this?

 View from the pond.
Chanticleer Lawn

I have made my first gardening resolution for when I get back home. I will mulch without moaning. If I bothered to mulch properly, paying attention to details, my garden borders would 'weather' better - and look nurtured. There's more - I am committed to spreading loads and loads of compost around, to feed my soil more, and hopefully have better growth next spring. I don't think I do enough soil-nurturing.

Oops - Fountains Fail to Impress?

But back to the present - today we wandered around the Tyler Arboretum, followed by the 'tour de force' (yawn) - Longwood - a stodgy porridge fugue after the lightness and leafiness of Tyler Arboretum's prelude! Those swathes of ornate fountains with silly pipes and water spraying and dancing in patterns simply didn't impress. I'm a child of the New Zealand bush and forest - where water gurgles and whooshes and wriggles and rushes, making its own journey. Random, chaotic, sometimes frightening water which floods, and drips from the ferns, and meanders down the man-made tracks making them oh so slippery.

 At Longwood Gardens.
Italian Water Fountain

Hmm... That outburst was activated by thoughts of a silly man-made waterfall at Longwood, a boring lake (apart from the bullfrogs and their chunky tadpoles) - as well as the large fountains which were being rigged for a massive fireworks and light show. The smaller Italian water garden was quite groovy, though I wouldn't want one in a million years.

 An original planting in Tyler Arboretum.
Liquid Amber Tree

Tyler Arboretum Trees

The Tyler Arboretum was much more down-to-earth, and we enjoyed wandering around the trails looking at the rhododendrons and the forest trees. I met the State Champion Pinus Picea tree (for Pennsylvania) and took countless photographs looking up large trunks. We'll see just how interesting these pictures will look... Seen one canopy, seen them all, in a North American deciduous forest at least?

Road Travel in the USA

The travelling has been fun (honestly!) for someone who doesn't usually drive on freeways and beltways and roads called 'pike'. Franchise food chains - where else is there to stop and eat? All the signs are mesmerising - oh dear - I was quite puzzled by a sign turning off to the town called 'Lodging'. What an odd name. Then I saw another 'Lodging' and a town called 'Camping'... Got it!

The trick in a strange new country is in knowing what's commonplace and what's not - like that gorgeous Arboretum ground cover is probably an annoying weed. And that there will be reasons for things that look odd to me. Of course all the tall trees need lightning rods for protection.

Anyway, I'm back home in Washington with a headful of future plans. Tomorrow is another tourist day - we are driving to Mount Vernon to see George Washington's place. Farm? House? Not sure.

Saturday 23rd May

I am in garden-love with purple Alliums! I saw more of these yesterday in the garden at Mount Vernon, popping up harmoniously between the fluffy pink peonies and the cool blue Campanulas. I did notice one thing - the garden at Chanticleer paired its Alliums with golden yellows (as in the colour wheel), which made them more prominent. Ha! Proof that perhaps the colour wheel works?

 I love these flowers!

Anyway, inspired indirectly by George Washington's late spring gardens, I have been making plans for the Moosey vegetable garden back home. Two things - expansion, and paths. A stone-surfaced path will start by the back door steps, hug the Olearia hedge and lead through the gap to the washing line (home to the yellow Banksia rose). There will be a shorter path at right angles to lead to the woodshed. The vegetable garden will be dug to fit.

A Word About Non-Gardening Partner...

It can be stressful accompanying a gardener on a short holiday. Non-Gardening Partner, dutifully bringing the first morning cup of tea, was sat down and quizzed about the feasibility of the vegetable garden extension-and-path idea. Helpfully he suggested bringing in a trailer load of top-soil, as well as compost. Then, realising the fateful mistake of engaging in garden conversation, he escaped to read 'The Washington Post'. NGP now has an alarmingly serious list of things to build when we return home - I will probably see less and less of him in the following week!