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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. The greenhouse has erupted into color for Orchid Month and spring has made its presence known in the gardens. 

Today's highlights 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. With hundreds of cultivars, there is surely something unique for every orchid enthusiast. Learn more about these and so much more on an orchid tour with a member of our staff. 
  • 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.
  • Cymbidiums are cool loving orchids that actually like a touch of frost to set flower buds. These buds then develop into long sprays of large, showy flowers. We have numerous in bloom now. One particularly nice specimen is Cymbidium Mighty Tracey ‘Moonwalk’. This orchid sports large yellow flowers with bright red mottling on its lip.
  • Our newest 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.

Plants of note in the garden:  

  • The witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia 'Pallida') between the motor court and cutting garden is still blooming. The large deciduous shrub is full of yellow flowers comprised of crinkled strap-like petals. ‘Pallida’ is a cross between the Japanese and Chinese witch hazel and known for its abundance of blooms, attractive form and good fall color.
  • The camellias (Camellia japonica) have come into flower. These harbingers of spring with their many cultivars come in a wide range of colors. There are two beautiful red specimens in bloom now in the motor court. Camellia japonica is a 10-15’ evergreen shrub that likes partial shade and acidic soil which makes it a good partner with azaleas and rhododendrons.  
  • The silvery white flower buds on the paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha) in the western Lunar Lawn bed are starting to open! The fragrant yellow flowers hang down to make tufts of blooms on the ends of each naked branch. Next will come the long dark green leaves that have a grey-green underside. Paperbushes have an interesting history and are widely cultivated in Japan where the inner bark is used to make paper for Japanese banknotes.   
  • 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'

  • Beautiful yellow flowers of Cymbidium Mighty Tracey ‘Moonwalk’

    Beautiful yellow flowers of Cymbidium Mighty Tracey ‘Moonwalk’

  • Fragrant flowers of the Heliotropium arborescens

    Fragrant flowers of the Heliotropium arborescens

  • Hamamelis × intermedia 'Pallida' in bloom by the cutting garden

    Hamamelis × intermedia 'Pallida' in bloom by the cutting garden

  • Big red flowers of the Camellia japonica in the motor court

    Big red flowers of the Camellia japonica in the motor court

  • Edgeworthia chrysantha flowering in the western Lunar Lawn bed

    Edgeworthia chrysantha flowering in the western Lunar Lawn bed