2017 Capitol Region Garden Bloggers Spring Fling participants had several hours to pick and choose among the 12 Smithsonian Gardens clustered on either side of the National Mall. I am sure Kathrine and Enid would be pleased to see the public garden spaces named for them and visited by thousands of garden and history lovers every year.
KATHRINE DULIN FOLGER ROSE GARDEN
This garden is the centerpiece of the front of the Arts and Industries Building to the east of the Smithsonian Castle. The original garden was made possible by a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Lee M. Folger and the Folger Fund and was dedicated in 1998. The design called for a four season garden with specimen conifers and evergreens as anchors during winter months. Spring and summer would be dominated by an extensive collection of roses and their perennial companions. The 2016 redesign retained the four season focus and ground covers and additional perennials chosen for their ability to attract beneficial insects were added.
I will admit to some disappointment in this rose garden. All gardens have to be new at some point–I just happened to catch this one not even a full season after its renovation. Additionally, practicality has to reign sometime and the newly planted roses are almost all of the more modern shrub and drift types. This is perfectly understandable given that the Washington D.C. summer humidity inevitably fosters age-old rose issues such as powdery mildew and blackspot and these newer varieties are much more disease resistant. The newer landscape type roses also have less rigorous deadheading requirements and are probably better suited to public gardens than fussier varieties…oh well.
That being said, my nostalgia for the older, more classic multi-variety rose garden has not kept me from also going to the Knock-outs and Drifts in my own garden…
This urn along with an original 19th century three tiered fountain are part of the Smithsonian Gardens garden artifact collection.
Here’s our friend from Peace Tree Farms-Lavender ‘Phenomenal’. Lavenders are classic rose companions and this variety is used extensively in this garden. The ground cover Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ (spring bloomer) will eventual spread to fill in around the lavender and other perennials.
Catmint (Nepeta), yarrow (Achillea) and the hardy Geranium ‘Rozanne’ hold promise as mounding ground covers.
I would love to check back in on this garden in two or three years after the mounding roses have matured and the perennials have taken hold. For now, Kathrine’s garden is new again with promises of what’s to come.
ENID A. HAUPT GARDEN
This 4.2 acre garden is actually a rooftop garden, sitting directly over the underground museum spaces of the National Museum of African American Art, S. Dillon Ripley Center, and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. It can be reached from large gates on Independence Avenue, from entrances on either side of the Smithsonian Castle or by going out the Castle’s back door.
Philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt passionately supported the creation of public gardens and the preservation of horticultural institutions. Her three million dollar endowment made this garden possible as part of the redesigned of the Castle Quadrangle in 1987. The Smithsonian based Enid A. Haupt Fellowship in Horticulture is a much sought after academic opportunity.
The garden is actually composed of three separate gardens: the Parterre, the Moongate Garden Center and the Fountain Garden, each reflecting the adjacent architecture and the culture of the museums below.
As I entered the garden from the east side, the skies opened up and I sprinted to take shelter outside the African Art Museum. An inviting seating area complete with market umbrellas offered me a bit of protection from the shower and I got the opportunity to see several amazing potted plant specimens. The limited soil depth (remember we are standing on top of underground museums) and protection provided by the surrounding museums creates a microclimate milder than is typical of the region. I am reasonably sure none of these would be winter hardy if planted in the ground without shelter from the cold.
Just west of the museum’s entrance is the Fountain Garden, modeled after the Court of the Lions at Alhambra which is a 13th century Moorish palace and fortress in Granada, Spain.
At intervals throughout the gardens there are roof vents nestled among the foundation shrubbery, reminders of the museum activity below.
The Parterre is designed in classic Victorian style to complement the architecture of the Castle. Ornate iron borders harken to an earlier day when gardens full of fussy ornamentation and vast beds of stylized annuals were the mark of an affluent homeowner. Much of the Smithsonian’s collection of antique iron garden artifacts reside in the Haupt Garden.
A second brief shower drove me into the Castle for refuge and I never got to see the third garden highlight, the Moongate Garden Center. An interesting collection of potted specimens clustered at the buildings steps caught my attention-especially interesting was the unusual coloration on the conifer–maybe a pine?
I regret not taking time to read more about this garden before my visit. There was much to see and several interesting backstories that I missed because I did not do my research. When I return in a few years to check up on Kathrine’s roses and I will give Enid the time and attention she deserves!