Garden Conservancy Open Days in DC – 2009
Last fall I joined four other women – all passionate gardeners and/or landscape designers – as part of the DC Area Garden Conservancy Open Days Committee, to find wonderful private gardens for the 2010 Open Days tour here. I was inspired to volunteer my time because the Conservancy has had a special place in my heart ever since I first visited my first Open Days garden in Arlington VA in 2005 – and because the 2009 Open Days gardens in our area had been so stunning to visit (and photograph).
The photo above is from the garden of Jeff Stann, a friend and fellow designer in Chevy Chase, MD. It had been featured in an article in the Washington Post because of its inclusion of a small “temple” built by Jeff at the rear of the lot, inspired by Prince Charles’ temple in his garden at Highgrove.
The garden was full of unusual plants and vistas. But what caught my eye as a photographer was what you see at the beginning of the post, a “rear view” of a seating area nestled in the middle of the garden.
In another Chevy Chase garden (also featured in the Post at a later date), the 80-something owner greeted visitors at the top of a beautiful garden with a bridge over a stream and many sculptures she had created herself placed throughout the garden. Her gardener, a longtime friend and horticulturist, was also present to answer questions about some of the more unusual plants we saw. I took notes for a client’s shady garden on a creeping groundcover that turned out to be a perennial form of Laurentia (blue star creeper).
I didn’t visit all the gardens (there were 18 in all , spaced over 3 Saturdays) although now I wish I had. Two of the others I stopped by were that of Gay Barclay in Potomac, and my personal favorite, Barbara Katz’s garden in Bethesda. Both are trained as landscape designers. Barclay’s garden, significant portions of which were designed by Sandra Clinton, has been featured in many magazine articles, and has an outdoor kitchen and dining area as well as herb and vegetable gardens and large areas for composting.
Katz’s garden, which she originally designed for a client who later moved to Boston, is smaller, but breathtaking. Although it was on view in June, it shines even brighter in the fall. Eventually, it may be on a fall Open Days tour, although not in 2010. Here are some photographs I was lucky enough to take in both seasons.
This year’s gardens for our area are equally varied and fascinating. Closer to May 22nd (mark your calendars!), I’ll have a sneak peak for you at some of them. In the meantime, check out the Open Days schedule and sign up for information about gardens that will be open near you (or within driving distance). My fantasy for retirement is to visit Open Days gardens all over the country, camera in hand!
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