Thursday, June 10, 2010

DC Trip was Plant-tastic! (part 2)

I left off cooing about DC's general landscaping and my appreciation for the government buildings and their style of planting as well as their plants of choice.

I'd like to devote this entry to the more garden-y areas I saw such as the Smithsonian, National Arboretum, and Botanical Conservatory.

While the Smithsonian has a small number of official gardens it takes care of and the ones in front of the museums (the Natural History one I mentioned in the prior post) I took a real shine to the National Museum of the Native American's garden around the building and a special one I'll get into later.

The National Museum of the Native American appears to be the newest museum amongst the Smithsonian and allow me to briefly laud its insides as well as its outsides.  The exhibits are incredible, in depth and well done as well as very technological oriented.  My husband and I spent the greater part of the day on the top floor (the 4th) itself which was just the introduction to Native Americans in North and South America.  Politically correct they are.  I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the diversity of culture, food, beliefs, and etc of all the Native Americans I learned about.  Much respect to their past (and present!) (and presence!)

Outside the NMotNA's awe inspiring brick and almost adobe looking building facade was very simple, very tastefully done landscaping, landscaping that I don't usually gravitate toward's, not that I enjoy ridiculously showing gardens either, but the colors were mostly muted of yellow,, browns and greens of grasses (to represent the grassland I would guess) punctuated here and there by, now my plant identification isn't perfect, but I could only believe them to be Indian pinks.  Teehee.

I believe I saw sweet potato or potato plants and of course, there was CORN!  The corn wasn't in vast swaths of course, but nice hills of them here and there.  Strange to think of it, but I don't think there was any Three sister's growing action going on (no beans and squash with the corn).  A large part of the front entrance was a water feature of a relatively calm pool that ran over various ledges, maybe resembling all those salmon fishing places I've seen in the past that Native American culture has been tied to.  Water features can be a drain to resources and aren't the best environmentally, but hey, it's a museum and maybe the water get recycled?

As I look at the Smithsonian site mentioning the museum's landscaping I realize that maybe I somehow missed some of the parts of the landscaping/gardening? Wetlands?  Didn't see it.

A quick shout out to the indoor gardens inside the National Gallery of Art (East side! *requisite 3 finger "E" shape sign*) btw on not just having plants in pots indoors, but since the place is so big, they have mini-gardens (which I am sure are low permanent planters) inside.  Now that I think about it, I suppose malls and some airports feature these things too, but plants + art = plant art. And thus I am happy to have seen it in there rather than being surrounded by rampant shoppers or air travelers.

Lastly my favorite, and most surprisingly so, a garden that the Smithsonian holds is a little one, tucked between some buildings dedicated to one of the directors or some sort... sadly can't remember the name! A person could very near miss it if they were walking by because it has a short face, and is narrow and winding (as it's between buildings).  It's not listed on the official Smithsonian website and this will drive me crazy to not be able to find it or know its name now.  It's not the Rose or Ripley Garden listed on the site I am sure, because there was nothing grand like roses or iron-work in this garden.

Getting over the fact that I can't find it online anywhere and hope noone thinks I'm just a loony and making it up, this little gem of a garden is a garden I'd like, except that it'd need tomatoes and peppers and eggplant and beans tucked in it.  It's cozy and warm and has MULTITUDES of interesting plants tucked away here and ready to catch the eye and surprise a person.  Loads of herbs like nigella and basils dotted the beds and random voodoo lilies were placed elsewhere in other beds and in pots to have impact.  Roguchi clematis rambled here and there and peeked out from behind some larger plants.  Unusual sedums like a chocolate variety that I'd never seen before (and omg confession again, I broke a sprig off, which is heinous and goes beyond seed saving.... check to Smithsonian...again....) dotted the beds to eventually become groundcover.

I was lucky enough to talk to a groundskeeper person who was in the area planting something (I should have looked closer to what she was planting) and after talking shop for a while I said something along the the lines of "root-y stuff" and she looked at my husband and said, "Does she make up words like this all the time?"  Heh.  I explained that I don't tend to be very mature in my conversation style and she said she was only kidding (whew).  But yeah, don't know what it is about my turning everything into an adjective just about.

Hmmm, so, as this is getting longer than I expected I'm breaking this up again and I'll conclude with National Arboretum and the United States Botanic Garden/Conservatory tomorrow and next week I'll talk of the cool plants I got from my family.

(I'd just like to note too that if I had intended to go to DC for garden viewing exclusively I wouldn't have been the newb that I was to not known that the Smithsonian also had an heirloom and Victory garden I could have seen >_<)

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