Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Tell Us About YOUR Garden

January 11, 2016 5:30 PM | Anonymous member

Tell Us About YOUR Garden

For our January meeting, 3 Club members shared how they planned their garden, what is in it, and a few of their secrets for maintaining and enjoying it. 

This program is always a favorite with our members, and drew the largest crowd for any meeting this season.

Many thanks to Evelyn McKay for planning and organizing this evening's presentations.


Marian Wiseman - House Renovation

After a major house renovation in 2011, our back garden was decimated. We took the opportunity to create an entirely new garden. 

Along each side of our lot we built triangular planters that are angled to complement the new deck. Each of the three planters on one side has a bush that stays green throughout the winter: a Pieris japonica and two azaleas. 

Flowering perennials are the basis of the garden. Something is in bloom all during the growing season, starting with azaleas, Jack Frost, astilbe, heuchera, and iris in April and May, continuing with plants such as peonies, bee balm, phlox, smooth beard tongue, and cone flowers through the summer, and asters in the fall. 

To break up the large brick wall bordering one side of the garden, we installed a twine trellis system on one end, and we are espaliering a pyrochantha at the other end.



Joseph Purdy & Anthony Pontorno - Jenkins Row Terrace

After many years of gardening on Capitol Hill, Joe and Anthony sold their home and moved to a top floor condominium with a 12x18 terrace where they can look down to see Pennsylvania Ave, and across the city to the Capitol dome, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Arboretum.

Although they would still able to garden, the terrace was a game-changer in that they would now be container gardening in almost full sun.  Their goal was to create a space that would look ‘heavily landscaped’ all year by using an array of evergreen plants and trees, but also be a space that would offer seasonal color via deciduous, flowering plants and trees.  Finally, for summer impact, Anthony chose an assortment of non-traditional planters (plastic containers from the Container Store), to fill in 3 1/2 sides of the terrace with colorful perennials and annuals.  In the end, "I wanted the plants look like they were growing right out of the ground, like the hanging gardens of Babylon” according to Anthony.

To connect them spiritually with their former house and garden, they incorporated a few plants that they brought with them, as well as 4 statues (the Four Seasons), and most importantly, the very unexpected crystal chandelier that Anthony used to hang from a large oak tree.

The result is a lush space where they feel that are still in a row house garden, where they can enjoy morning coffee, have afternoon wine and cheese with friends, or sip a late evening martini before retiring.

Noteworthy plants that Anthony selected include Cherokee Princess Dogwood, Weeping Carolina Cedar, Fox Tail Spruce, Climbing Hydrangea, Japanese Cut Leaf Maple, Varigated Euonymus (Glacier), Boxwoods, Japanese Forest Grass, Japanese Painted Ferns and a very spectacular chocolate drop weeping coleus.

To alter the effect each year, Anthony chooses his annuals carefully, e.g. one year everything bloomed with white flowers, while last year he chose Black Satin Petunia with chartreuse potato vine as his dominant colors.

Joe feels that the biggest difference between in-ground and roof top gardening is the enormous quantity of water that the plants need, even in winter.  The biggest surprise was seeing so many mosquitos traveling 5 stories high for a bite to eat.  The most unexpected pleasures are the many small birds attracted to the water feature.

"In this garden, the only thing I do is take the tags off the new bushes, and water", quipped Joe,  "Anthony does all the rest".



Joyce Jones and Floyd Brown 

     Artistic Accents in a Lovely Garden

After many years of fighting mosquitos on our deck, and a very overgrown crabapple tree in our backyard, we decided to take the plunge and create a smaller growing space, water feature and fountain with Koi, and a screened porch from which to view the garden and decorative artifacts. One of my favorite features is a new brick wall constructed using old bricks and a wonderful new medieval style gate leading to the parking area. An American Fringe tree, planted in place of the crabapple is surrounded by a growing boxwood border.

A curly willow started from little more than twigs is now about 12ft. tall and waiting to be repotted in late winter so that it can continue to add graceful swaying against our stairs and fence.

This leaves more time to devote to the front garden which continues down to the sidewalk where I have used boxwood and other evergreens for structure and a background for garden artwork, including an iron tree and seated statue that all can enjoy--photo ops with grandchildren on the block are popular!  A very large Harry Lauder Walking Stick oversees summer annuals and winter cabbages. A healthy ligularia plant provides summer, fall, and winter interest. A spring iris border on the other side of the walkway is watched over by a friendly satyr.

Some years ago, it seemed like a great idea to create a small step and walkway between our garden and that of our neighbor to be used in snowy weather as she leaves early for work--meaning Floyd has only one path to shovel! Providing a helping hand in keeping the next door garden watered and casually maintained has been worthwhile both because we wanted to do it and also because it adds to the appearance of our adjoining gardens. Recently, a new garden club member has taken on the job of redoing our neighboring garden and it looks great!



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