Brookside Garden’s Private Gardens Tour

As many of you know, I live in the metropolitan Washington DC area. One of my favorite photographic haunts is Brookside Gardens (part of the Montgomery County park system). This year they have organized a tour of seven private gardens in Bethesda, Maryland for Saturday June 2nd. I’m very impressed how quickly they’ve been able to organize it, find gardens, and arrange publicity. (I worked on the local Garden Conservancy Open Days Tours here in 2010 and it was a lot of work!).

I have photos of two of the gardens, so I’ll start with those. First is fellow designer Barbara Katz’s own garden, which was last open to the public in spring 2009 as part of the GC Open Days tours here that year. Welcoming you in the front yard you’ll find a friendly boxwood caterpillar:

Katz Garden, London Landscapes, Garden Conservancy, Brookside Gardens Tour

A boxwood caterpillar graces the front lawn of landscape designer Barbara Katz’s garden in Bethesda

Originally designed for a client of hers, this garden came into Barbara’s own possession when the client moved to Boston. She makes changes every year. I love visiting and photographing it because of the amazing plant combinations she has come up with, not to mention her containers.

Brookside Garden tour, London Landscapes, Katz garden

The back yard of the Katz garden (in autumn)

London Landscapes, Katz garden, Brookside garden tour

A bust with pearls, planted with ivy “hair,” provides whimsy and textural contrast in the spring garden of Barbara Katz.

The other garden on the tour which I know well is – full disclosure – one I designed in 2003, and which I continue to work on with its owners, Robyn and Bill Collins. Because the house sits on an underground spring, the site is consistently wet and one of the issues we had to address (and still struggle with today) is moisture.  This is true especially in the back garden, which may be why these astilbes look so happy, and hostas thrive.

Collins garden, astilbe, Brookside Gardens tour, wet gardens

Astilbe, Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’, and sweetbay magnolia in the back yard of the Collins garden.

Although the primulas aren’t likely to be in bloom by the time of the tour, the hostas and other shade plants shown in this photo will be in full glory.

Collins garden, Brookside Gardens tour, wet gardens

A view of the pool house from the patio in late spring.

Other gardens on the tour include the personal garden of Holly Shimizu (director of the US Botanic Garden) and three other gardens personally selected by the staff at Brookside. For more details and photographs of the gardens, click here. You can register for the tour in advance here or by coming to McCrillis Gardens in Bethesda on the morning of June 2nd, where on-site tickets will be sold and addresses for the gardens will be available. This is a fundraiser for one of our area’s premiere public gardens. If you’re within driving distance, please mark your calendar!  This is a rain or shine event. You may even run into me at the Collins garden, where I expect to be on hand to answer questions most of the day.

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5 Comments on “Brookside Garden’s Private Gardens Tour”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Melissa – thanks so much for the photos and mention – I really appreciate it! I will be in my garden all day on June 2, so when can I see the Collins garden? We need to get all the owners together,
    to visit each other. Let’s hope it’s another beautiful, sunny Saturday.

    • Melissa Says:

      Barbara, give me a call – I expect to be on site the day before at least half of the day “primping” and deadheading and would love to see you. And yes, I really want to see the other gardens too!

  2. iamlenise Says:

    These are wonderful photos..esp the catepillar..cute!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. val Says:

    i would like to have a graden like that but im not sure how to get started.


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