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What's in Bloom

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 in full force in the gardens and there's still a lot to see in the greenhouse. 

Today's highlights in the gardens:

  • Azaleas are a hallmark of Hillwood’s gardens and many are in bloom right now. Azaleas belong to the genus Rhododendron and come in many colors and sizes. One intriguing cultivar is ‘Koromo Shikibu’ or the split-petal azalea. The flowers are unusual with long, strap-like lavender petals that spread out in a spider-like fashion. See these and many more throughout the gardens.
  • A wonderful rhododendron cultivar is in flower at the top of the woodland trail. ‘Solidarity’ is compact and grows only 3-4’ tall but can become wide with age. Dome-shaped clusters of pink flowers open from bottom to top and change color as they age. The result is an almost luminous bouquet sitting on top of the large dark green leaves.
  • Another show-stopper right now is the Chinese snowball viburnum (Viburnum macrocephalum) just behind the boxwood hedge at the rose garden. Our plants are still young but will eventually become large vase shape shrubs reaching 10’ tall. The round, white clusters of flowers are over 8” in diameter and are quite amazing.
  • The Chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense) is blooming behind the putting green. Related to witch hazel, the flowers are born in groups that have four narrow white petals that curve slightly downward. Our specimen was planted in Marjorie Post’s tenure and is a wonderful, large, evergreen shrub.

Plants of note in the greenhouse:  

  • Orchid month is over but the orchids don't know that! 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. With hundreds of cultivars, there is surely something unique for every orchid enthusiast.
  • Also blooming in the greenhouse are the Brassias or spider orchids. Brassias have long narrow sepals and petals that look like spider legs. Among the most exotic looking orchids, they hail from tropical regions of the Americas. The Brassia Rex ‘Sakata’ subvar. ‘Lea’, in particular, are putting on a great show.
  • Our latest exhibition, Perfume & Seduction, features a section of fragrant plants in our greenhouse. Stop and smell the heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) that’s noted for clusters of delicate purple flowers with an intense vanilla fragrance.  A shrub native to Peru, cultivars are typically sold in the DC area as summer annuals or houseplants. Deadheading can encourage flowering that lasts all season long.
  • 'Koromo Shibibu' and other azaleas blooming along the paths

    'Koromo Shikibu' and other azaleas blooming along the paths

  • The luminous blooms of Rhododendron 'Solidarity'

    The luminous blooms of Rhododendron 'Solidarity'

  • Viburnum macrocephalum with large clusters of white flowers

    Viburnum macrocephalum with large clusters of white flowers

  • Loropetalum chinense in bloom at the putting green

    Loropetalum chinense in bloom at the putting green

  • Lots of color in the Phalaenopsis collection

    Lots of color in the Phalaenopsis collection

  • The spidery petals of Brassia Rex 'Sakata' subvar. 'Lea'

    The spidery petals of Brassia Rex 'Sakata' subvar. 'Lea'

  • Fragrant flowers of the Heliotropium arborescens

    Fragrant flowers of the Heliotropium arborescens