Friday, October 5, 2018

Longwood Gardens

Near the Flower Garden Walk

The large lake

The meadow, perhaps the most beautiful sight at Longwood

The du Pont home

One part of the vast conservatory.  These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of Longwood Gardens.

I had heard that Longwood Gardens was one of the most outstanding gardens in America.  That notion just led me to be disappointed.  It was nice.  But I didn't think it was all that great.  It covers a large area, over 1,000 acres.  Much of that is meadow & forest.  In April, the main cultivated garden attraction, the Flower Garden Walk & adjacent gardens, had planting beds filled with common bulbs; pretty but dull.  Although there are plant collections, it's certainly not a botanic garden like those in New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles.  The Italian Water Garden & the Topiary Garden are just plain ugly.  However, the conservatory is amazing, one of the best I've seen.  The garden is located outside Philadelphia in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Pierre S du Pont, a wealthy industrialist, purchased this land in 1906 & called it Longwood. He laid out the Flower Garden Walk in 1907.  The conservatory was completed in 1921 & opened to the public. After du Pont’s death in 1954, Longwood Gardens was run by garden directors, the gardens were expanded & the entire estate was opened to the public.  In the 1970s, the famous landscape architect Thomas Church helped Longwood Gardens with long-range planning & garden improvement. He designed the Theatre Garden, Wisteria Garden & the Peony Garden.  I've always found Church's work to be a bit bland, like Longwood Gardens itself.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Bartram's Garden

The Bartram home

The Schuylkill River with Philadelphia skyscrapers in the distance

A cider press carved into stone by the bank of the river


Original buildings from the Bartram farm. These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of Bartram's Garden.

Bartram's Garden is a picturesque & historic site on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia PA.  The original buildings are beautiful, very nicely maintained & restored.  The garden is not in great shape.  It's more of a wilderness, which has its charm along a river that has been heavily industrialized.  Large tanks line the opposite shore.  Within the garden, all is peaceful & green.  There are several venerable trees planted by the Bartrams in centuries past. Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin Tree) was discovered by John and William Bartram in 1765 along the Altamaha River in southern Georgia.  (I don't know why the spelling differs.)  William Bartram brought seeds back to the garden in 1777 & named the plant Franklinia in honor of Benjamin Franklin. All Franklinia are descended from those grown by the Bartrams.  The plant is believed extinct in the wild.  A male Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree) is the oldest in North America. It was one of three original Ginkgo sent to the US from London in 1785. Quercus x heterophylla was first discovered by John Bartram & is now called the Bartram Oak. It is a rare, naturally occurring hybrid of Quercus rubra (Northern Red Oak) & Quercus phellos (Willow Oak). I have to admit that I was a bit alarmed by the seedy surrounding neighborhood & also disappointed by the neglected state of the garden.  But I'm glad I saw it.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Mount Baker Station

Hosta & other plants fill this long planting bed.

Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts

 Mount Baker Station with plaza on Rainier Avenue S


Elevator & escalators. These photos were taken in June 2016.

The Mount Baker Station is not exactly in the Mount Baker neighborhood, but right next to it, with a view of Franklin High School, a Mount Baker landmark building.  It is located on Rainier Avenue S & Cheasty Boulevard S near the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr Way S.  It opened in 2009 after 4 years of construction.  It covers 30,000 square feet & is more than 400 feet long.  This structure is elevated 35 feet above an open plaza & access to the platform provided by stairs, escalators & elevators.  The light rail line enters the Beacon Hill Tunnel very near the station.  The properties next to the station have mostly not been developed.  The one prominent new building next to the station is Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, whose ground floor retail spaces wrap around the building.  If each new building were to open retail spaces facing the station, the plaza could be quite a lively place.  At present, it is surrounded mostly by empty space & parking lot.  The landscaping at the station is better than usual for a public space.  I particularly like the long bed of Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum), Hosta, Hydrangea anomala & a few other plants that runs behind the station.  The plaza in front of the station has few trees & much pavement.  Beneath the station there is a display of information about the Olmsted Legacy in Seattle.  Mount Baker Boulevard S & Cheasty Boulevard S were designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm.

Friday, July 6, 2018

United States Botanic Garden

The fountain has a beautiful pattern of stone. A garden of regional plants is beyond.

The pond has a natural appearance.

The National Museum of the American Indian is in the background.

Government buildings surround the garden.

The conservatory is filled with tropical & desert plants. These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of the United States Botanic Garden.

The United States Botanic Garden is located in Washington DC very near the US Capitol Building at the foot of Capitol Hill.  As far as botanic gardens go, it is not very large.  A significant part of the garden is the conservatory, which has an impressive collection of plants from around the world.  Though rather small, the garden itself is quite lovely.  It has a nice pond, a beautiful fountain & impressive views of the surrounding buildings, particularly the National Museum of the American Indian just across the street.  First proposed in 1816, a national botanic garden was established on the National Mall in 1820.  That garden languished, but reopened in a new location in 1850.  The National Botanic Garden moved to its present location in 1933.  A series of conservatories have been prominent for more than 150 years.  The current conservatory was constructed in 1933.  The National Garden, which covers 3 acres outside the conservatory, was opened in 2006.  It includes a regional garden of plants native to the Mid-Atlantic.  Bartholdi Park is also part of the National Botanic Garden.  It was created in 1932 & renamed in 1985 after Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor of the fountain at its center.  Bartholdi Park was closed for renovation when I was there in 2016, but that was completed in 2017.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Marion Street Plaza




These photos were taken in June 2016.

Marion Street Plaza is an odd little space on Broadway Avenue at Marion Street.  It was once a triangular island also bounded by Boylston Avenue.  But that was all resurfaced, including Boylston, which was closed to traffic between Marion & Broadway.  And it became a plaza with very low planter beds that run in parallel strips across the pavement.  The planters are edged in rusted steel, with some edges faced in blue.  The beds are filled with an eclectic array of perennials & very low shrubs, which appear to be randomly placed.  It's quirky & arresting in its deviation from normal landscaping of any kind.  The plaza also has benches & serves as a stop for Bus Route 9 & the First Hill Streetcar.  This is where you would get off, if you planned to visit Swedish Medical Center or Seattle University.  The streetcar is quite fun to ride from International District/Chinatown Station to Capitol Hill Station, because of the many things you can see along the way & the charm of the streetcar itself.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Enid A Haupt Garden

Boxwood fleur-de-lis in a Victorian-inspired parterre


The Smithsonian Castle in 2 photos above.

Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building

Statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird.  These photos were taken in April 2016.

The Enid A Haupt Garden is located among the oldest of the Smithsonian museums at the National Mall in Washington DC. It is an eye-catching & varied array of planting beds, shrubs, trees & plants in pots. There are paving, decorative urns, a pool & a statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird.  Baird was the first curator named at the Smithsonian Institution & later became its second secretary. There are lots of benches here. This is the perfect place to rest when walking around or near the National Mall. The garden covers 4.2 acres adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle. It was designed as a modern version of  an American Victorian garden.  The garden opened in 1987, replacing the existing Victorian Garden which had been built for the Bicentennial.  Enid A. Haupt provided $3 million for its construction & maintenance.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Carl Linnaeus Tribute and Healing Garden

Helenium autumnale (Common Sneezeweed)




Mespilus germanica (Medlar) These photos were taken in June 2016.

The Carl Linnaeus Tribute and Healing Garden can be found on the grounds of Swedish Medical Center First Hill Campus at the corner of Broadway Avenue & Cherry Street in Seattle.  This is particularly appropriate because Carl Linnaeus was Swedish.  Here there are a fairly wide number of plants, some of medicinal value, each listed by their common names & the botanical Latin names that Linnaeus gave them during his lifetime (1707-78). Linnaeus published Species Plantarum, the work that was the starting point of modern botanical nomenclature, in 1753.  The garden is small & pleasant, certainly worth a visit, if you are on First Hill, or at nearby Seattle University.  Swedish Medical Center has also created a vivid tropical garden here at the entrance to its campus on Broadway.  The Seattle Public Utilities Green Gardening Program has used these gardens as a case study for Transitioning to Sustainable Landscape Practices.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Washington DC Sculpture Gardens

The Hirschhorn Museum is in the center background.


Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden (3 photos above)


National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (2 photos above) These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of the sculpture gardens.

The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden & the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden are across the street from each other at the National Mall in Washington DC. It's an engaging, pleasant, shaded stroll through the gardens, which are very much focused on the art. The Hirshhorn Museum & other buildings create an interesting backdrop. And of course, the museums themselves are very much worth visiting. The National Gallery of Art was given to the people of the United States by Andrew W. Mellon, a very wealthy man who served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932. The collection is mostly European & American art from the Renaissance to the present day, with loan exhibitions displaying art from other cultures & periods, The Hirshhorn Museum displays modern art from the period following World War II. It opened in 1974 with the endowment of the collection of another wealthy man, Joseph H. Hirshhorn. The building is an open cylinder set on four massive piers, with a large fountain in the central courtyard, sculptural in itself & controversial once completed.  Both sculpture gardens feature modern art pieces.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Pike Pine Corridor


Pine Street & 15th Avenue


Pine Street & 12th Avenue


Union Street & 10th Avenue.  One story facades were incorporated into new buildings.

Chophouse Row between 11th & 12th Avenues, Pike & Union Streets 


10th Avenue between Pike & Pine Streets


Pike Motorworks on Pike Street between Harvard & Boylston Avenues


Pike Street & Summit Avenue


Plymouth Pillars Dog Park between Pike & Pine Streets above Interstate 5. These photos were taken in June 2016.

Click here for more photos of the Pike Pine corridor.

The Pike Pine corridor runs along the edge of Capitol Hill in Seattle, dividing it from the Central District at its eastern end & First Hill at the western end. It is officially know as the Pike/Pine Conservation District. Some say the corridor continues on through Downtown to 1st Avenue. While Pike & Pine Streets originate there, that area is better known as a part of the Downtown Retail Core. Pike & Pine streets are just one block apart. The corridor is 2 or 3 blocks wide, including Union & Madison Streets east of Broadway Avenue & running from Interstate 5 to 15th Avenue, about a mile in length. The surrounding area is one of the most densely populated in Seattle. The Central Seattle College & Seattle University campuses both sit at the edges of the corridor. as does Cal Anderson Park. The Egyptian Theater is a significant historic building within the corridor.

The Pike Pine corridor began to be seriously rebuilt during the Housing Bubble of the mid-2000s & continued again during the Tech Boom of the mid-2010s. Many large apartment buildings of 6 or 7 stories with ground-floor retail were built during those periods. The area had been filled with 100 year old warehouses, thrift stores, auto repair shops & auto dealerships before that time. But there were also bars, coffee houses & restaurants. Broadway Avenue E was the more interesting & much more lively retail district on Capitol Hill before that time. But Broadway has only one retail strip, while Pike Pine covers a retail area of several streets & many side-streets.

In 2009, the City of Seattle expressed its intention to promote the conservation of the corridor’s existing historic character by limiting new development to a scale compatible with the established development pattern, accommodating arts facilities & small businesses at street level, & encouraging the retention of the existing structures & their architectural features that establish the district’s architectural character, especially buildings older than 75 years & those related to Seattle's original auto row. What happened was that a few buildings of 3 or 4 stories were refurbished, while many buildings of 1 or 2 stories were gutted & their facades incorporated into large apartment buildings. But much remains essentially unchanged.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The White Hills

Arctostaphylos pungens (Manzanita) & the La Madre Mountains

Agave utahensis

Pinyon-Juniper Woodland 

Pinus monophylla (Single-leaf Pinyon)

Red Rock Canyon beyond the woodland

Yucca schidigera


On the last Friday in January 2016, we went to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. We hiked more than 6 miles around the White Rock Hills on the White Rock Loop Trail.  In the canyon between the hills & the La Madre Mountains, there was a Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. We saw quite a variety of plants. There were manzanita & a dozen other shrubs, 6 species of cactus as well as 2 species of Yucca & also Agave utahensis. The climb up through the canyon gave spectacular views & wasn’t difficult. The descent into Red Rock Valley was less interesting & the last 2 miles, along the lower edge of the White Rock Hills, through desert scrub, was exhausting. We hiked for almost 4 hours & never stopped to rest.