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36/1710
U.S. Botanic Garden

Summary of Show

The Checkerboard Garden
Holly and Eric start the tour of the current exhibit - Flora: Growing Inspirations. The first area visited is Holly's favorite and called THE CHECKERBOARD GARDEN. It includes raised beds and is lined out carefully so they have squares or checkerboards. The beds are planted in such a way as to create contrasting color and texture. Eric likes the plant selections. The silver foliage of the Dichondra micrantha 'Silver Falls' is stunning, it is one of the best small leaf silver foliage plants. The Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' is a favorite succulent and especially noteworthy for its bright pop of chartreuse in the garden. The Origanum Oregano is a great color of green but also has a wonderful fragrance and flavor. The river stone is important because of the "negative space" look and Holly feels that is critically important to the design.
For More Information Click here

The Mediterranean Garden
THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN has a definite old world feel, something like what one might find in Italy or the Mediterranean. And, that was the inspiration for this design. The look has been created with Cupressus sempervirens Italian Cypress and a long narrow pool with wonderful water sounds that helps keep one feeling cool. Many of the plants featured are Mediterranean. Plants like Olea europaea Olive Tree, Citrus, Caryota Fishtail Palms, all add to the feeling.
For More Information Click here

Create A Sense Of Depth
This garden design has a sense of depth. A home gardener could similarly CREATE THAT SENSE OF DEPTH. It was important here because this is their entrance. They add depth by having layers of plantings and by utilizing the long design. That way one doesn't see everything at once and that's important. Also, the long narrow pool creates a sense of depth. Additionally they've created 2 garden arms that come out from the long main garden. What that means is one can not walk directly into the conservatory, one must take the journey, one must go around the arms. There are layers of plantings, so everything isn't visible at once. That too creates a sense of depth and it creates interest because you have something pulling you along, there's something you need to go and see.
For More Information Click here

Vertical Garden
Eric next notices an area that is a great solution for the gardener with little space. Here THEY'VE GONE VERTICAL. Many gardeners with condos, etc. have limited space so going up is a good solution. They had this built in house. After looking on line they decided it would be easier, so they built it themselves, out of wood, used core the stuff used on the outside of hanging baskets, added good soil, attached it to the vertical wall, then chose their plants. On one side they have chartreuse plants with some touches of hot pink. Holly particularly likes the Portulaca grandiflora Moss Rose. It's such a good pink, a good performer in the summer heat and provides a great pink splash. Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita' Sweet Potato Vine with its chartreuse leaves is also great. The chartreuse acts like as light because it's so bright, a very intense pop of color.
For More Information Click here

A Place To Relax
In the next area Holly's crew has created A SEATING AREA, then surrounded it with walls. It's important in a garden to have places to sit and feel a sense of privacy, a place you can just be in the garden. It's in the shade and that's beneficial. It provides a place to be in the natural world, surrounded by the bustle and concrete outside, but here it's a wonderful oasis and enjoyed by many. Gardens are about re-charging, they're about escape.
For More Information Click here

The Zen Garden
Another garden at USBG is a circular garden. They refer to it as A ZEN GARDEN. It is constructed utilizing crushed mirror. It's a recycled material which provides a nice sparkle. And they've included some river stone. There is an endlessness to the circle. All of that is surrounded with beautiful plants. Caryota urens Sago palms are interplanted with Thymus Vulgaris Thyme and the Thyme creates a really nice effect. The Zen garden is bordered with big Pennisetum Ornamental Fountain Grass. The lightly bobbing heads and the sense of slow motion provides a real sense of tranquility. People just love to stand there and take it in, jot some notes and hopefully take some ideas for good combinations home.
For More Information Click here

Herb And Vegetable Garden
The oldest type of gardening would have been HERB AND VEGETABLE GARDENING. Food is obviously important, we use it everyday. The USBG has created a very nice, aesthetic garden that is also functional. They tried to do that by planting vegetables with herbs and incorporating some good design principles. Holly would like to taste their way through the garden. Eric is up for that. They start with Levisticum officinate Lovage, which is an herb that not many people grow. And they should grow it. Loveage tastes like celery and is in the carrot family. The celery flavor is delicious. It has a very bright, fresh flavor. It is awesome and Eric isn't familiar with this plant. Nature's best sweetener is called Stevia rebaudiana Stevia. It's many times sweeter than sugar. Eric likes this taste as well. Mentha Mint is another great addition. Holly likes Mint, likes it in teas, iced tea, hot tea but does grow them at home in a container because they do run.
For More Information Click here

Sustainable Sites Initiative
Eric has enjoyed the exhibits we've visited. But the exhibits at USBG are always changing. Holly tells us that there is a Holiday Exhibit coming up which will be followed by the Orchid Show, they then go into Food, Health and Well-being for all their exhibits. There is a theme that will show up in future work and that's the Sustainable Sites Demonstration Garden that they're building. It will be part of the SUSTAINABLE SITES INITIATIVE which is a partnership they have with the American Landscape Architects and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

The United States Botanic Garden

Sustainable Sites Initiative

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Plant List


36/1710. U.S. Botanic Garden

Complete Transcript of Show

Since 1850 the U.S. Botanic Garden has been bringing Americans the very best in new plants and design ideas. In this Episode GardenSMART takes a look at their latest exhibit and the ideas it presents.

At the bottom of the Capitol steps is a hidden treasure, the U.S. Botanic Garden. Nick Nelson, the U.S. Botanic Garden's Landscape Architect joins Eric and GardenSMART. Nick provides a little history about our nation's garden. Congress established the garden in 1820. It has been in constant operation since 1850. The idea of the botanic garden is rooted in our nation's history. Some of the founding fathers - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - all had a dream of creating a national botanic garden. Their goal was to collect, grow and distribute plants that could be of benefit to the American people. The U.S. Botanic Garden today is a living plant museum with the goal to inspire people and educate them about the connection between humans and plants.

Things have changed since Eric was last here. One change is the current exhibit - Flora: Growing Inspirations. Nick was very involved with this project. He was the lead architect but had a great horticulture staff that he worked with. He took a lot of their ideas and put them on paper. He started by hand sketching and it grew from there. But the combinations of colors and textures that the horticulturists choose are magnificent. Nick and the horticulturists also worked with the Washington Sculptor Group, a local group of amateur sculptors and the sculptures in this exhibit were all inspired in some way by plants. The exhibit is large and they wanted to break it into separate spaces. The ideas are new and old, based on garden designs. Nick believes that it relates to the home gardener. People can come here and get inspiration from the different planting combinations or the overall themes of the gardens.

Nick believes that home gardeners when designing their yards and gardens should start with a plan. Put your ideas on paper. It will really help when you go to the nursery and start picking out plants. Rather than just selecting one of every plant, then bringing them home and figuring where to put them, start with a plan, the plants will then better fit your criteria and will make it all easier.

Holly Shimizu is the Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) and is a plant nut from way back. When she was a little girl she spent summers vegetable gardening with her grandfather, harvesting warm raspberries, eating peaches and parsley. Then when thinking about college she was fortunate and found she could study horticulture and plants and actually make it a career. She went to Temple Ambler School of Horticulture, continued her education and got an internship at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, then went to Europe to work in different gardens. Even at that point she couldn't believe that there was so much to know, so much to learn and still considers herself a student. All of her life Holly has been pursuing plants as a passion, as well as a profession. There is always something to learn in the world of horticulture.

From a career perspective, Eric feels Holly has an absolute dream job. Holly agrees. The U.S. Botanic Garden has a long and fascinating history and an exciting mission. They focus on 5 importances of plants - the aesthetic (the beauty), the cultural (importance in literature, poetry, architecture), the therapeutic (which is medicinal, how plants keep us healthy and play an important role in our well-being), industrial (things like rubber and coffee, chocolate) and the ecological (the environmental importance of plants in our lives). Everything they do at USBG relates to those 5 importances.

Holly and Eric start the tour of the current exhibit - Flora: Growing Inspirations. The first area visited is Holly's favorite and called THE CHECKERBOARD GARDEN. It includes raised beds and is lined out carefully so they have squares or checkerboards. The beds are planted in such a way as to create contrasting color and texture. Eric likes the plant selections. The silver foliage of the Dichondra micrantha 'Silver Falls' is stunning, it is one of the best small leaf silver foliage plants. The Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' is a favorite succulent and especially noteworthy for its bright pop of chartreuse in the garden. The Origanum Oregano is a great color of green but also has a wonderful fragrance and flavor. The river stone is important because of the "negative space" look and Holly feels that is critically important to the design. It really contributes to the contrast in colors and is particularly effective against the backdrop of beautiful purple grasses. It is a practical design and has tremendous scalability. This checkerboard garden is a fairly expansive area but it could be utilized in a small patio, even a little 4 by 4 or 6 by 6 area. In the squares one could put in an herb garden, plug in annuals, almost anything would work. The way the colors work together, the isolated little squares make a big impact. Here to add to the fun and folly of the area they have 3 sculptures that are set into the pattern, just like pieces on a chessboard. They look great and of course the unity of threes provides a focal point in this garden and ties the whole design together.

The next garden pulls them in with the rich color and texture. The walls add some architecture and echo the color. The Muhlenbergia capillarium Muhly Grass, Sweet Grass has perhaps the finest texture in ornamental grasses. The soft cotton candy pink contrasts nicely with the green wall behind it. Wonderful color and texture.

THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN has a definite old world feel, something like what one might find in Italy or the Mediterranean. And, that was the inspiration for this design. The look has been created with Cupressus sempervirens Italian Cypress and a long narrow pool with wonderful water sounds that helps keep one feeling cool. Many of the plants featured are Mediterranean. Plants like Olea europaea Olive Tree, Citrus, Caryota Fishtail Palms, all add to the feeling. Another plant that oftentimes we don't think about as far as a Mediterranean planting is the Rose plant. It's not that far from its original home and this is a great example. Rosa radsunny Sunny Knockout Rose has done much to bring Roses back into the American garden. It's disease resistance and its super flower power are both great attributes. Some other plants that, perhaps, may be a little out of place in an old world garden or Mediterranean garden are the brightly colored annuals planted along the allay. Holly has learned that their visitors love color, they need color to be happy. So, they have fun with color. Also, it helps provide a connection to the fun, folly-like sculptures that are added to this garden. This garden design has a sense of depth. A home gardener could similarly CREATE THAT SENSE OF DEPTH. It was important here because this is their entrance. They add depth by having layers of plantings and by utilizing the long design. That way one doesn't see everything at once and that's important. Also, the long narrow pool creates a sense of depth. Additionally they've created 2 garden arms that come out from the long main garden. What that means is one can not walk directly into the conservatory, one must take the journey, one must go around the arms. There are layers of plantings, so everything isn't visible at once. That too creates a sense of depth and it creates interest because you have something pulling you along, there's something you need to go and see. Also, everything is planted close together. One doesn't see a lot of soil. They've been careful and chosen great performers. The Solenostemon scutellariodes Coleus is obviously happy, as is the Angelonia Summer Snapdragon, one of the better newcomers as far as bright color. The Agastache Hyssop is blooming. It's attractive to pollinators, thus something is always buzzing on it. One of Holly's all time favorite fragrant plants is Jasminum; Jessamine Jasmine. It smells delightful and welcomes one into the garden.

Eric next notices an area that is a great solution for the gardener with little space. Here THEY'VE GONE VERTICAL. Many gardeners with condos, etc. have limited space so going up is a good solution. They had this built in house. After looking on line they decided it would be easier, so they built it themselves, out of wood, used core the stuff used on the outside of hanging baskets, added good soil, attached it to the vertical wall, then chose their plants. On one side they have chartreuse plants with some touches of hot pink. Holly particularly likes the Portulaca grandiflora Moss Rose. It's such a good pink, a good performer in the summer heat and provides a great pink splash. Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita' Sweet Potato Vine with its chartreuse leaves is also great. The chartreuse acts like as light because it's so bright, a very intense pop of color. Eric likes several plants that he would never have thought about putting in this type of planting - the Lantana Shrub Verbena with its really nice splash of orange and the Tradescantia 'Tricolor', both are stunners. Holly likes the Sweet Potato which has almost black foliage, it's known as Ipomeoea batatas 'Blackie.'

It really leads one to the other side which is the black part of the vertical wall. Black is really an impact full color in the garden, it gives the garden a sense of coolness, yet a great tropical feel. It's a wonderful accent. too. The combinations spark. The Alocasia with the Strobilanthes dyerianus Persian Shield is a magical combination. The Alocasia 'Diamond Head' has a wonderful black sheen. Another unusual plant is the Gossypium Ornamental Black Cotton. It's fantastic, a new plant and appropriate here, plus it allows one to see cotton. With the contrast of the dark foliage and the little white puffs throughout, it is dramatic. There is repetition in this area. A small New Zealand Linum Flax is present, then some great cultivars of Coleus which fit in. The taller flax provides layers along with textures and the repetition really makes it all work.

The archway could be could be fairly high maintenance for most. But, it's not that high maintenance because they have it on a drip irrigation system. All they have to do is turn the water on, leave it on for a time and the whole thing is watered. They waste less water, the irrigation system does a great job.

In the next area Holly's crew has created A SEATING AREA, then surrounded it with walls. It's important in a garden to have places to sit and feel a sense of privacy, a place you can just be in the garden. It's in the shade and that's beneficial. It provides a place to be in the natural world, surrounded by the bustle and concrete outside, but here it's a wonderful oasis and enjoyed by many. Gardens are about re-charging, they're about escape.

Another garden at USBG is a circular garden. They refer to it as A ZEN GARDEN. It is constructed utilizing crushed mirror. It's a recycled material which provides a nice sparkle. And they've included some river stone. There is an endlessness to the circle. All of that is surrounded with beautiful plants. Caryota urens Sago palms are interplanted with Thymus Vulgaris Thyme and the Thyme creates a really nice effect. The Zen garden is bordered with big Pennisetum Ornamental Fountain Grass. The lightly bobbing heads and the sense of slow motion provides a real sense of tranquility. People just love to stand there and take it in, jot some notes and hopefully take some ideas for good combinations home. They also take note of the fiddle head sculpture which is also beautiful. It's hand carved out of limestone and surrounded with beautiful foliage, which really offsets the sculpture. This kind of sculpture really works well in a garden.

The oldest type of gardening would have been HERB AND VEGETABLE GARDENING. Food is obviously important, we use it everyday. The USBG has created a very nice, aesthetic garden that is also functional. They tried to do that by planting vegetables with herbs and incorporating some good design principles. Holly would like to taste their way through the garden. Eric is up for that. They start with Levisticum officinate Lovage, which is an herb that not many people grow. And they should grow it. Loveage tastes like celery and is in the carrot family. The celery flavor is delicious. It has a very bright, fresh flavor. It is awesome and Eric isn't familiar with this plant. Nature's best sweetener is called Stevia rebaudiana Stevia. It's many times sweeter than sugar. Eric likes this taste as well. Mentha Mint is another great addition. Holly likes Mint, likes it in teas, iced tea, hot tea but does grow them at home in a container because they do run. Beta vulgaris Beet has dark purple colored leaves which contrast beautifully with the Carum herba-barona Caraway Thyme. It is an excellent Thyme to grow, not only for the flavor, which is like caraway, but thyme is also a very good performer. It has a curry-type taste in Eric's opinion.

Eric likes the way they've bordered the herb garden with a Tomato trellis. It's worth mentioning that of all the vegetables one could grow in their vegetable garden they would gain the most benefit from growing tomatoes. It seems like the tomatoes that come from the store never have the same flavor as the tomatoes picked vine-ripe right in our own backyard. Holly thinks there's nothing better than picking tomatoes warm from the vine. Here they have Ocimum Basil planted nearby. Basil is an essential herb to have with fresh tomatoes. One can never have too much. Holly also likes to have Allium schoenoprasum Chives. They don't dry well but are delicious fresh. Eric thinks they need some baked potatoes.

A great ornamental feature is the wonderful, edible, super white Solanum melongena L. Japanese Eggplant. They look like little tassels of light hanging down from their darker stems. It's a very nice ornamental and edible feature in the garden. They even have some delicious edible flowers like the wonderful Tagetes tenuifolia Signet Marigold. It's Holly's favorite Marigold and it's petals make it a good flower to eat. Eric can imagine this in a salad along with another flower with a peppery flavor. It would really liven up the greens. Color and flavor, what's not to like. Eric has used Plectranthus Cuban Oregano in the garden and in containers before but wasn't aware it was edible. It is edible, it tastes like Oregano, should be chopped and used in salads and sauces. It's very lemony and very good. Another favorite of Holly's is Allium tuberosum Garlic Chives. It is yummy and has a garlicky taste. Salvia Purple Sage is ornamental but can be used in cooking particularly at Thanksgiving. A little goes a long way with this plant.

Eric likes the way they've blended vegetables and herbs and particularly likes the peppers in the background. They provide a nice vertical accent. They perform well and the fruits are beautiful and delicious to eat and look great next to the Foeniculum 'Purpureum' Bronze Fennel. It's not just the leaves that can be used, the seeds are also edible. It's a great food plant for butterflies and the texture is gorgeous. It has a beautiful wispy foliage. Eric likes the Rosemarinus Rosemary which is a good shrub, a great form and the flavor and fragrance are wonderful. It has fantastic lavender colored flowers underneath. Next to it is Lavandula Lavender with its grey foliage. It's excellent in winter as well as during the growing season. It's like a beautiful perfume.

Eric has enjoyed the exhibits we've visited. But the exhibits at USBG are always changing. Holly tells us that there is a Holiday Exhibit coming up which will be followed by the Orchid Show, they then go into Food, Health and Well-being for all their exhibits. There is a theme that will show up in future work and that's the Sustainable Sites Demonstration Garden that they're building. It will be part of the SUSTAINABLE SITES INITIATIVE which is a partnership they have with the American Landscape Architects and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. It will help develop guidelines and benchmarks for outdoor landscapes that will be similar to what the U.S. Green Building Council has done for buildings. Holly feels it will be very exciting and much needed. She feels their future here is bright, it's green and Holly invites everyone in the GardenSMART audience to come and visit.

Holly has a thought she would like to share. Gardeners can make a difference. They can make a difference in the choices we make with plants, the materials used in gardening and using less water. Garden sustainably with the environment in mind. Collectively we can make a huge difference.

The gardens at USBG are magnificent. This is truly a national treasure. Thanks for sharing USBG with us Holly.

LINKS:

The United States Botanic Garden

Sustainable Sites Initiative

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Plant List

 
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