Friday, September 1, 2017

GBFling 2017 — The Smithsonian Gardens: The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Back to the Smithsonian Gardens on the National Mall, today we visit the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, which has a great history. "The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden was the inspiration of Mrs. S. Dillon Ripley, lifelong plant scholar-collector, active gardener, and wife of the Smithsonian Institution's eighth Secretary. Mrs. Ripley conceived the idea for a "fragrant garden" on the eastern border of the Arts and Industries Building - a location that was designated to become a parking lot. In 1978 Mrs. Ripley persuaded the Women's Committee of the Smithsonian Associates, which she had founded in 1966, to support the garden. In 1988 the Women's Committee recognized their founder and friend by naming the garden after her."

But we have current day Horticulturist Janet Draper to thank for it's present look. According to the Smithsonian website her goal is to "expose visitors to the widest variety of plants possible...to expand the plant palette." I think you'll agree she's done just that, and this is definitely an educational garden, there were labels on most everything.

Their Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy' (aka Yucca aloifolia 'Purpurea') were so very green, they didn't seem to be shaded, I wonder why?

Looking into the garden, where we'll wander in a bit. First we have to check out the other side of the entrance...

Wowsa! Agaves and Yuccas and Bromeliads...oh my!

Jacobinia chrysostephana

Oh that this beauty were hardy to my Zone 8, sadly it's a Zone 10 plant.

*sigh*

Sauromatum venosum, I used to have those big gorgeous leaves in my garden. Perhaps I need to hunt one down again.

Dianthus barbatus 'Green Tick'

Fabulous Zinnias, such great form...

There were an amazing amount of fountains in Washington DC, and unlike many on the drier West Coast of the USA, they were all running.

Aristolochia gigantea 'Brasiliensis', aka Dutchman's Pipe

Manfreda virginica

And it's bloom spike.

This focal point planter was much photographed by our blogging group, and with good reason.

It's very well done.

And backed up by similar plants in the planting beds behind.

I've never really liked Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic’ — but here it looked, well, fantastic.

Another great creation, a planted succulent wall.

This is a gardener having fun!

And some one high up at the Smithsonian gardens must really love Furcraea, they were everywhere, and so healthy.

Okay, it probably seems this garden was just ticking off all the current must haves (vertical planting - check, bug hotel, check) but it didn't feel that way in person.

It's the fault of your tour photographer, moi.

Hey there my friend, Mr. Daphniphyllum macropodum...

Great vine too,  Cissus discolor aka Rex Begonia Vine (with a little chicken-wire assistance in the climb).

Time to make our way back out to the main avenue...

This was such a fun garden, with so many unexpected (by me) plants.

Crambe maritima?

One more photo of that Jacobinia, with a Yucca rostrata back-drop...

Weather Diary, Aug 31: Hi 83, Low 64/ Precip 0
Since it's Sept 1st I had to add a little extra weather info...

  • June/July/Aug 2017 ties 2009 for the 2nd hottest summer on record
  • Sunnier than normal! Typical cloudy days for those 3 months = 35, 2017 = 15
  • And dry! The driest summer since 2003, which means (as I felt) it's the driest since we've lived here

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

24 comments:

  1. Dry and hot and blech, at least for this lover of fog and cool, cloudy weather. I know, to each their own. And summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, so we still have almost a month left! That garden was one of my favorites on the mall. Janet is a true plant geek and a great designer, too! I'd guess the 'Blue Boy' yucca is one of those plants that loses color in the warm, humid nights of the East Coast. Those conditions can prevent red/blue pigments from developing or break them down faster than our cooler nights.

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    1. You know it was hard for me to share those stats like summer was behind us, because yes! We've still got 3 weeks to go!!! (sorry)

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  2. To think that this could have been a useful parking lot but instead was wasted on silly plants. (That was an attempt at humor.) Hats off to Ms Draper for some fantastic choices!

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    1. Plants or cars, that is a tough choice.

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  3. What a cool orange flower on that Zone 10 plant. Kind of reminds me of a somewhat fluffier Leonotis. I have no recollection of even seeing it in the Ripley garden. Thanks for sharing your photos, and your thoughts on what was fab in this garden. One of my fall/winter projects is going to be making a bug hotel, and there's was a great example of one.

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    1. Yes! A fluffier Leonotis is the perfect description. I look forward to seeing your bug hotel.

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  4. Definitely find another Sauromatum venosum: what an amazing leaf formation. Absolutely you are to blame for all these drool worthy pictures. The 'green wall' is the best I've ever seen. It must be the choice of plants; it's a perfect display. And finally, a Rex Begonia Vine! OMG, I wish I could.

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    1. I was left wondering what this garden looks like in the winter...

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  5. Yes, as Evan says, Blue Boy yucca goes green in the warmer months here in Texas too, even in the shade. At least mine did, right up until it croaked.

    I loved this garden, and it was fun to meet Janet too.

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    1. Ugh..."right up until it croaked"...sorry Pam. And I didn't get to meet Janet! Bummed.

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  6. I never would have expected the Smithsonian to have such a great garden. Really amazing to think it might have been yet another parking lot. All those plantings instead of pavement make a big difference in air temp and water retention.

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    1. I never would have expected the Smithsonian to have such a great garden.

      Seriously. It's sensible, tasteful, fits the climate, and is well-maintained but not really fussy-looking, and it looks like it can grow into itself, even when it needs updating in future. And they managed to incorporate the old bones and hardscape pretty seamlessly into a more modern plant palette, proving renovations like this can be done in a sustainable way. Big thanks are due to the ambitions and talents of Janet Draper and her team, especially for opting for a true landscape (rather than just botanical garden) representing American tastes*.

      *I love other schools of garden design, but this one really suits the location and purpose of the museum

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    2. I agree completely with you both!

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  7. One of my favorite gardens! This was my second time to visited it and it was just a wonderful. Thank you for the great shots. I would love to do a bug house like that one!

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    1. Now I'm wondering when your first visit was, and how much it's changed?

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  8. Nice garden! It does credit to our country.

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    1. Unlike other things currently in DC...

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  9. I loved this garden - it still stands out in my memory as one of my top 3 among the gardens we visited during the Fling. My own Yucca 'Blue Boy' were all still purplish the last time I looked but perhaps the current extended heatwave will take care of that. It's it's bleaching out and drying up just about everything in the sun's path at the moment. We hit 102F yesterday and 104F today - and it was still 92F at 9pm last night.

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    1. I just read that SF (downtown) hit 106 yesterday, yikes! I hope there's a cool down in your near future.

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  10. This was a fave for me, lot's of others too it seems ! I would love to visit and take photos in that garden during golden hour.

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    1. You being the jet-setter you are will probably find yourself back there again, with camera in hand....

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  11. Great overview of the Ripley garden. Love those Jacobinia!

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  12. Great tour of this lovely garden. The succulent wall is particularly nice.

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  13. Another star in the Smithsonian's crown.

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