Tag Archives: Open Days

Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program Features Three Private Gardens in Washington DC, October 16

gc_web_logoOn Sunday, October 16th, visit three private gardens in Washington, DC, open to the public through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $7; children 12 and under are free. Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org  or call 888-842-2442 for more information. Gardens featured include:

Sessums + Biles Garden, 5081 Lowell Street, NW (near American University)

The Sessums + Biles Garden is a horticultural treasure where sustainability and design embrace. The client, a passionate gardener bored with traditional “green on green” landscapes, commissioned a garden with careful consideration to all seasons and where plant form, texture, and color are of equal importance. The result is a dynamic, ever-changing tapestry of predominantly native trees, shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers. Sweeping paths, walls, terraces, and a water feature form the backbone of this unique garden. No herbicides or fertilizers are used, and pesticide use is strictly limited to the aging stand of hemlocks. The site is not irrigated, site water is reclaimed, and all garden material is composted on site. The garden is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation and the client is physically involved in all aspects of the garden’s maintenance.

Sessum + Biles garden, photo courtesy of H. Paul Davis

Sessum + Biles garden, photo by H. Paul Davis


The Barbara Downs Garden, 3321 P Street, NW

Located in Georgetown, this town garden exudes the spirit of Japan, a favorite travel spot of its owner. A dry streambed of randomly placed stones descends from the elevated rear of the garden and meanders to the house, terminating in a circular arrangement of stones that mimic a pool. The centerpiece of the garden, a sculptured millstone-shaped pink granite fountain surrounded by lavender plantain lily (Hosta x ‘Honeybells’) bubbles with life. Framed by crepe myrtle ‘Natchez’ (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’), the terrace of Stoneyhurst flagstone provides a reflective escape in this hidden urban garden.

The Nancy Gray Pyne Garden (street address will be given at other locations)

A journey through this secret garden in the heart of Georgetown takes the visitor up a series of formal terraced gardens and past a number of outbuildings that include a library, two greenhouses, and a freestanding theater. It culminates in a decorative walled vegetable garden designed and planted by Washington Post garden writer, Adrian Higgins. The garden had been assembled over the course of a century or more, but it was given its character in the 1930s as one of the major Washington projects of a pioneering landscape architect named Rose Greely. The main terrace is a walled garden perched above the house. Its most animated feature, a geometric fountain, is aligned with both the rear entrance of the house and, at right angles to it, a rectangular lawn framed by a path and boxwood plantings. The upper garden functions as its own formal garden of shrubs and small trees, as well as an entrance for the theater, known as the playhouse, and the larger greenhouse (and potting shed). The upper garden is also a place of paths. One leads to a parking lot at the end of an alley. Another passes a long boxwood walk that leads past a fenced swimming pool, which was once an ornamental garden and, later, a tennis court. The vegetable garden is bounded by more brick walls and by the back of the garage and a cedar fence. The space, sixty feet by thirty feet, also contains the second greenhouse built by Nancy Gray’s husband, Gordon Gray, who was a passionate orchid grower.

Nancy Gray Pyne garden, photo courtesy of The Garden Conservancy

Nancy Gray Pyne garden, photo courtesy of The Garden Conservancy

In addition, at the garden of Nancy Gray Pyne, bring your questions throughout the day for Andrea Filippone and Eric T. Fleisher of the New York-based firm, F2 Environmental Design. Andrea Filippone is a boxwood expert who has advised Mrs. Pyne on boxwood selections in her garden, and Eric T. Fleisher is the organic guru in the firm, who believes that the basis of all successful gardening is an understanding and nurturing of the soil biosphere.

The Garden Conservancy created the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. Its mission to share American gardens with the public is achieved each season, through the work of hundreds of private garden hosts and volunteers nationwide. Digging Deeper, a new series of Open Days programming, is designed to offer a deeper look into the gardening world through immersive experiences with artists, designers, gardeners, authors and other creative professionals. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program. For information and a complete schedule of Open Days visit the Garden Conservancy online at www.opendaysprogram.org.

Peg’s Picks October Gardening Events Washington DC Area

Oudraat-Brown Residence in Washington DC Photo by Roger Foley

Oudraat-Brown Residence in Washington DC
Photo by Roger Foley

October is the time for harvest festivals and pumpkin patches. Check the “public gardens” and “nurseries” tabs on my blog for events; I have only listed a few “edible” ones below. That being said, there is one annual event that isn’t covered in those lists. This year, on Saturday, October 18, the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program will share four private, DC and MD gardens with the public, from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission to each garden is $7, no reservations required. The Garden Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in New York, introduced the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program and is made possible by volunteers. Private gardens are open to the public across the country throughout the year. The proceeds from the Open Day program support the national preservation work of the Garden Conservancy. Visitors may begin the self-guided tour at either one of these locations:

Macleish Garden, 3525 Springland Lane, NW, Washington DC

Meandering walks, vistas, and garden rooms distinctly different from each other, offering surprises of color and texture throughout

Underwood Property, 4002 Underwood Street, Chevy Chase, MD

Garden and house support each other through the use of rainfall, natural ventilation and drainage, and solar and geothermal energy, with rooftop vegetable gardens, gabion walls, green roofs, rain gardens, and native plants

Directions will be provided to these locations in DC.

Oudraat-Brown Residence: a playful, non-traditional garden of bold colors, a curving “ribbon wall,” a cantilevered deck, repeating rounded boxwood and hawthorn trees, and perennials that spill over and soften the edges of the walkways.

Rauser Garden: a Japanese inspired woodland garden featuring fall highlights of nandina, camellias, and beautyberry, a fishpond and waterfall, pebble paths, and a hidden Zen garden

For more detailed directions and descriptions of these gardens, visit http://www.opendaysprogram.org. To learn more about the Garden Conservancy, visit http://www.gardenconservancy.org.

Other gardening events in October

Friday, October 17, U.S. Botanic Garden, noon to 1:00 pm, “What Science Says about GMO Food,” lecture by Beth Burrous, biochemist and USBG volunteer, free but must register. 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC (202) 225-8333 (general) and (202) 225-1116 (to register for events). http://usbg.gov

Saturday, October 11, U.S. National Arboretum, “Under the Arbor” is a series of informal, drop in demonstrations on an herb or herb related topic, presented by members of Mid Atlantic Units of the Herb Society of America. In October the topic is Chile Peppers, 1:00 to 4:00, National Herb Garden, free. 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20002 (202) 245-2726. http://www.usna.usda.gov

Saturday & Sunday, October 18 & 19, Loudoun’s 2014 Fall Farm Tour. A free, self-guided tour of privately owned farms (about 21 farms & wineries in Loudoun County). Visit farm animals, gather eggs, pick pumpkins and apples, and enjoy many family oriented activities. Visit the web site for more information and for a brochure with a map of the farms and description of activities; Sponsored by Loudoun Virginia Economic Development. http://www.loudounfarms.org