Monday, October 8, 2012

The U.S. Botanic (Potted) Garden

The Botanic Garden at the foot of the Capitol has not thrilled me much this year. There's been entirely too much restraint on display.

Thankfully, a more extravagent hand is now at play.  For this I am grateful.

An ex-friend and I once had a dispute, well we had more than one which is why she's now an ex-friend.

While I have no issue with disagreement in general -- a little disagreement can aid in the creation of thought balloons which contain symbols such as ? and ! and ?! As well as the strings of letters and symbols that we substitute for expletives.  I do however mind when said disagreement is entirely disagreeable, which is what  the final disagreement was, which I will not get into.

The following was minor as such things go:

We were not arguing over flowers, but over excesses. She preferred House Beautiful magazine, which was in those days a paean to things you can do with sheets, and what she called "practical furnishings." I preferred dreaming big, drowning myself in  (the late lamented) House and Garden with its photos and descriptions of things I will not have in this lifetime but can perhaps figure out a way to fake.  

Entry Hall
(Not that she wasn't extravagant and acquisitive, she was terribly so, and snobbish about it. The first time she visited my home, on the wrong side of the city from hers, she glanced across at our neighbor's yard, strung with nylon line and dripping with wet underwear, sniffed and cooed, "Darling, how quaint.")

(Also note that House Beautiful has greatly improved since the time of the sheets. Worth subscribing to, particularly if you like odd color combinations). 

Where was I. Oh yes. The Botanic Garden.

Sometimes it is boring. Even when the flowers have colors it's pale and constricted and constipatedly tasteful. Very wasp (no offense to wasps). Very Washington.

At this moment, however, the twin pools that flank the center court are lush and fanciful and you want to take off all of your clothes and lie there in the turquoise water with the fountains splishing about while you breath in and out many times while filling your eyeballs with purple and lush and overgrown. And there's no worry of snakes nibbling your toes or bulbous hairy spiders flinging themselves out of the branches overhead.
Main Doors

My ex-friend would have it pruned.

I should mention, since it is the point of this entry, that most of this display is done with pots.

The entry hall also has pots of ferns and flowers grouped about the floor. More pots sit atop columns. These are filled with many fabulous things that grow up and down.

You will note that throughout this post I am refraining from naming many (if any) plants, other than ferns. This is either because I do not wish to intimidate you with my knowledge of flora or because I have no idea what they are and neglected to ask the plant people while I was lurking around their enclosures.

In any event, I  have found that displaying a knowledge of plant names can be highly irritating, particularly so when someone tosses about the Latin. And It's a fairly useless use of brain space. If you need to have a certain plant, steal a sprig or bud or whatnot and wave it around the garden center until someone identifies it.

More pots are heaped with this and that outside the main doors.

The beauty of pots is that when plants die or fade or grow ratty, as they too frequently do, you can move and remove them so easily.

Pink Trumpet Vine
Some blocks away from the Botanic Garden is a garden that runs alongside the Smithsonian Castle that is not the Haupt Garden. I could swear it's called the Wrigley Garden, but I can't find mention of such on the internets, so just go with the location.

It's a narrow winding path punctuated with pots and a few permanent plants like this pink trumpet vine for which I weep. I WEEP. Why do I have an  orange trumpet vine, hugely invasive and almost entirely green and entirely entangled with my personal cherry tree and dripping flowers on the neighbors side of the fence -- a yard no longer adorned with a clothesline but still unspeakably ugly -- when I could have this beautiful pink.

Wait. I have another wall.  It's smothered with ivy and honeysuckle and roses and white flower vine in early autumn...but surely I can wedge... mmph.

Anyway, the maybe it's called Wrigley garden is mainly a potted garden, very clever and unnoticable to most, I suppose. You kind of have to lie down on the bricks and get stepped on by tourists to take a shot like this.

Maybe it's the Wripley Garden?


  1. I don't subscribe to any home magazines but have one sent to me by a kind aunt. I need a magazine called "Good Enough". It would feature pictures of packed suburbs, articles on how to survive drive by's from the Minivan Mafia, and a dialogue describing the rules of engagement when dealing with women who don't work but whine about how busy they are. This month's main article would be "Dealing With Grocery Store Snobs: Why Their Grocery Store Isn't Better Than Yours."
    I think the Botanic Gardens needs a display called "Plants That Make You Think Inappropriate Thoughts". This plant would be a big hit:

  2. That. Would be BRILLIANT. The magazine, I mean. Inspiring. Also. There is a fine and curious plant at the Botanic Garden. Though it's nowhere near as wonderous as the Brazilian penis, and perhaps others might not have impure thoughts about it, um, I managed to. It does not grow in a pot, but from a tree, and therefore was inappropriate for this posting. I have a photo tho... hmmmmmmmmm.

  3. In keeping with the intelligence of this posting, I haven't a clue. It, um, pendules. Largely.

  4. You have me curious now. So what was the final dispute with your friend?

    As for people who call plants by their latin names, we have loads of people swanning around on British tv referring to ivy as 'hedera.' It really annoys me but I am also guilty of referring to Macedonian Scabious as Knautia Macedonia on my blog. (If only I could get these words in italics here.) I could build up my vocabulary bit by bit until no-one has a clue what I am talking about.

  5. The final dispute was a multi-layered offense where-in I was displaced by a shinier bauble at a particularly fragile moment.

    Latin? I have a post about the Tradescantia pallida that my mind keeps mangling to transendentia pallarda and another (actually several I think) regarding the pittosporum, which gets similarly twisted to spathiforum. Sometimes, such as now, I argue with myself about getting this down. And then I have another cup of coffee.


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