Set on twenty-five acres adjacent to Rock Creek Park, Hillwood’s gardens feature a diverse and fascinating array of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, offering something to see in every season. Spring is here and the gardens are coming alive with color! Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, Orchid Month has just wrapped up but someone forgot to tell the orchids!
Highlights in the garden:
- The District of Columbia is renowned for its cherry blossoms and Hillwood has several in bloom now. The weeping Higan cherry (Prunus pendula) at the Japanese-style garden is gorgeous! This deciduous tree blooms before its leaves develop and its thin pensile branches are covered in pink flowers. Considered a small tree, the weeping Higans cherry can still grow to twenty-five feet.
- So far, it has been a great year for the magnolias and we have a wide variety putting on a show. The saucer magnolia cultivars (Magnolia x soulangeana) found dotted throughout the campus are chock-a-block full of pink and white flowers. The star magnolias (Magnolia stellata), especially around the Four Seasons Overlook, are lighting up the gardens with their white, multi-petaled, star-like blooms. Both are small trees and you will see them coming from quite a distance.
- The Thunberg spirea (Spiraea thunbergii) is also making a statement with naked branches full of small white flowers. A fine textured, deciduous shrub reaching five feet tall, its rounded, arching form has a great effect when massed. The cultivar ‘Ogon’ or ‘Mellow Yellow’ are frequently found in garden centers and have lovely golden foliage. Find Thunberg spirea throughout the grounds and particularly in the Lunar Lawn beds.
Plants of note in the greenhouse:
- The east orchid house is full of Phalaenopsis or moth orchids in bloom right now. These orchids can be found in a wide variety of colors and patterns which is quite evident in this part of the greenhouse. Phalaenopsis are commonly sold in garden centers and markets and thought of as a good place to start for amateur growers. With hundreds of cultivars, there is surely something unique for every orchid enthusiast.
- Phragmipedium Grande ‘Glenn’s Pride’ is a very impressive slipper orchid with extremely long sepals. Several flowers in our collection have sepals edging over eighteen inches! Phragmipedium, in general, are found in Central and northern South America and get their “slipper” name from the overall shape of their flowers.
- Cymbidiums are cool loving orchids that actually like a touch of frost to set flower buds. Once on their way, cymbidiums produce long sprays of large, showy flowers. Cymbidium Mad Irishman has beautiful yellow flowers with spots of red on its lip and is just one cultivar in bloom in the greenhouse now.
- Often found in humid forests at moderate elevations, Guarianthe skinneri grows on trees or rocks where it derives moisture and minerals from the air. A beautiful orchid from Central America, our cultivar ‘Casa Luna,’ sports striking purplish-pink flowers that nearly hide the plant.