Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


National Herb Garden, National Arboretum

The National Herb Garden is wonderful! Of all the gardens we visited at the National Arboretum, this one is my favorite. I loved the medicinal herb gardens, especially the Native American Herb Garden. We learned how different tribes used plants we are very familiar with, such as cardinal flower, large-flowered trillium and purple cone flower.

National Herb Garden

This is an example of the signs found in the Native American herb garden. The signs tell how the herbs were used by differen tribes.

This is an example of the signs found in the Native American herb garden. The signs tell how the herbs were used by different tribes.

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower

There were also gardens featuring plants for dying, brewing and perfuming. Colonial gardens featured herbs and vegetables. I took pictures of lots of peppers. The park’s website says it has 50 varieties!

Peppers!

More peppers!

And more peppers!


Conifer Collection, National Arboretum

On our way back toward the parking area at the National Arboretum, we swung by a portion of the Conifer Collection. We spent most of the time in the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers. This is about where the rain started drizzling and it drizzled off and on for the rest of the day.

Conifer Collection

Dwarf conifer collection

 


Washington Youth Garden

If you have kids, you definitely want to check out this garden in the National Arboretum. Besides various plants, there is a cute area where kids can dig, climb and play in a sandbox. The area also has a stage and a sitting area for programs.

Entrance to Washington Youth Garden

(Just a note of warning — take along the bug spray! As we were leaving the garden five mosquitos shared a meal on my leg. I itched for a few days after that!)

The Washington Youth Garden is full of color and a variety of plants. There were tons of bees and butterflies flying around. Sunflowers, coneflowers, rose mallow, apple trees, strawberries, figs, crepe myrtle, canna lilies, sedum, carnations, hydrangeas, spirea and more filled the beds.

Washington Youth Garden

The coolest thing we saw was a passionfruit vine. According to this source, the plant is naturalized and is not native to the U.S. A woman working at the garden said the fruit is ripe when it feels hollow when you squeeze it. She described it as feeling like “cardboard.” Doesn’t sound too appetizing, but I understood what she meant after testing a couple of fruit that were nearly ripe.

Passionfruit vine

Passionfruit vine

 


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U.S. National Arboretum

On our first full day in D.C., we started out with a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum, which is in the NE quadrant of D.C. There is plenty of parking or you can ride the Metro. The grounds are open Friday-Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and pups are allowed.

We walked around the majority of the 446 acre park. It was pretty cool. I really liked how many of the gardens weren’t overly formal and many areas were allowed to grow naturally. The sky looked like rain most of the morning, but the drops held off until the very last leg of our trip. The overcast morning was a welcome change from our hot, muggy day at Harpers Ferry.

There are several gardens throughout the park, but we chose to only visit a few. We made it to the National Capital Columns, Fern Valley Native Plant Collection, Washington Youth Garden, the Asian Collections, the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers and the Conifer Collection and the National Herb Garden. We also walked by the Dogwood Collection, the Holly Magnolia Collection and some research gardens. There are more gardens, including the State Tree Collection and the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (dogs aren’t allowed in the bonsai garden and museum), so there is tons more to see.

Besides education, the park also participates in research. The research gardens were comparing native and non-native plants’ susceptibility to pest damage. The hypothesis is that native plants would attract more native insect predators to help control pest damage. It would be interesting to learn the results! Other research plants included crepe myrtles.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

Though the whole park was amazing, the herb and youth gardens were my favorites! I’ll share more about each of the gardens and pics in upcoming posts.


Findley Market, Cincinnati, Ohio

Chris took this photo of Findley Market on our recent trip to Cincy.

We recently made a quick jaunt to Cincy to visit family. We checked out Findley Market in Over the Rhine on our last day. Love it! If we were to ever move to Cincy, I’d want to live close enough to the market to make weekly visits.

You can buy all kinds of fresh meats, including sausages, ribs, fish and chicken, and other goodies. I loved all the different kinds of bakeries. If we weren’t leaving later that day I would have bought a loaf of bread and chocolate-covered baklava (something Chris really wanted) for dinner.

We did buy grub for lunch at one of the many delis. Chris’ aunt and I split a veggie moussaka, beans with leeks and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and the guys ate the biggest gyros I’d ever seen. I tasted a piece of Chris’ lamb. Delicious!

Besides the food and delis, I also saw jewelry and plants for sale.

If you’re ever in the area, make an effort to check out the market!


Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati, Ohio

We’ve visited the Krohn Conservatory before and it’s a great place to go, especially if it’s not too pleasant outside for outdoor activities. The beautiful Art Deco Krohn building houses exotic and gorgeous plants. Besides my favorite Orchid House, there are rooms dedicated to palms, tropical and desert plants.

For this visit we were there to visit the Butterflies of Brazil exhibit. Each spring, the Krohn features butterflies for a few months. It was really cool walking among hundreds of fluttering butterflies.

One butterfly landed on Chris’ arm as soon as we walked into the room.

Lots of kiddies had flat foam pieces they used to soak up water from the room’s fountain. They used the soaked foam to attract butterflies.

This girl was a pro! She had more than one butterfly on her foam at any given time.
She even had one of the larger butterflies hanging out on her arm.

Our visit would have been more enjoyable, however, if some parents controlled their kids better. There were a few boys running in between peoples’ legs, leaning across and shoving people out of the way in attempts to capture butterflies. One boy constantly invaded my personal space … even though I was sitting down! He also nearly stepped on many of the butterflies.

Though it was really cool and somewhat fun, my face hurt a lot from clenching my jaws and I had a pounding headache. I left wishing we’d learned about the adults only Happy Hour scheduled for later that day. Though we’d already had dinner plans, I would have loved watching the butterflies while listening to jazz.

It’s too bad that a few bad apples ruined the whole bunch. Just to be clear, most of the kids were well-behaved.

Though the room felt like chaos, Chris was able to get some great shots. Here’s some more:

Krohn Conservatory is an excellent place to stop if you’re ever in or near Cincinnati.