Garden Conservancy Open Days in DC – 2009

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, Evening Gardens LLC

Stann Garden, 2009 Open Days tour, Chevy Chase MD.

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.

Garden Conservancy, Open Days

A "temple" that also serves as a garden shed crowns the garden of Jeffrey Stann, open during the 2009 Open Days tour.

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).

Garden Conservancy, Open Days

The Williams garden was full of sculpture and artfully pruned trees, including what appeared to be a stunning blue spruce in the lower garden.

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.

Garden Conservancy

The Barclay garden welcomes visitors on an Open Days tour in 2009 in Potomac, MD.

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.

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, Barbara Katz, London Landscapes

The Katz Garden in spring, on the 2009 Open Days tour.

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, London Landscapes, Barbara Katz

The same view, in fall.

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, London Landscapes, Barbara Katz

Spring plantings and a bust with pearls in the Katz garden.

Garden Conservancy, Open Days, London Landscapes, Barbara Katz

Fall plantings in a mixed border in the Katz garden.

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!

Related Posts: The Garden is Open

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6 Comments on “Garden Conservancy Open Days in DC – 2009”

  1. Edith Hope Says:

    Dear Melissa, How wonderful to be involved with this scheme of Open Gardens and I shall certainly look forward to your future postings of what is to be included in 2010. What you describe appears to have many parallels with the National Gardens Scheme which operates, and has done so since the early years of C20, here in the UK.

    Apart from the fun of visiting other gardens, such schemes enable one to glean different design ideas, spot new plants and meet interesting people.

    • Melissa Says:

      Yes, as the first post I wrote about the Open Days program indicated (and I linked to a British blogger who writes about the NGS), it is definitely modeled on the National Gardens Scheme which has been so successful in the UK. Some of the private gardens I visited on my trip to England were open that way.

      You are so right that at their best these programs offer an unparalleled opportunity for garden lovers to learn about design ideas, plants, and come away with new ideas for their own gardens.

  2. Sylvana Says:

    I love that garden temple – and as elegant as it looks, it’s construction looks rather simple. LOVE IT!!
    All these gardens are great, and give me something more to aspire to 🙂

    • Melissa Says:

      I don’t know how easy or hard the “temple” was to build – I’d have to ask Jeff! You’re right that all these gardens are great sources of inspiration.

  3. thierry Says:

    Melissa, your open garden is an invitation. A poetry. What is extremely amazing in how many numbers of different GREEN do exist on each photography… I didnt know , a discovering. a symphony in green. Thank you!

    • Melissa Says:

      Dear Thierry,
      You are so kind! When I became a garden designer one of the places I spent many hours was the National Arboretum here in Washington DC – and I learned to appreciate how beautiful landscapes can be with only a “symphony of green,” as you so poetically put it. Merci beaucoup for visiting!


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