Set on twenty-five acres adjacent to Rock Creek Park, Hillwood’s gardens feature a diverse and fascinating array of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees, offering something to see in every season. Autumn isn’t quite over and the grounds are still sporting wondrous colors. If you find there's a nip in the air, take a moment to warm up in the greenhouse and see our orchid and tropical plant collection.
Highlights in the gardens:
- In the Motor Court, the dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) have turned a beautiful burnt umber. These trees were originally planted in 1960 and were five feet tall. Fast growers, they now soar close to ninety feet and have a great pyramidal form. Their color particularly stands out against nearby evergreen trees and shrubs.
- The planters at the putting green offer a nice pop of color. Yellow violas and Ascot Rainbow spurge (Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow') work well with a centrally placed Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’). The beds feature more violas and two types of kale, the taller green white bor and the emperor white with the white center.
- Take an autumn stroll along the pathways by the Japanese-style garden to appreciate the wide range of fall color on our azaleas. Yellows, oranges and reds, these evergreen shrubs aren’t only for spring.
During the summer, the horticulture staff includes a lot of tropicals in their designs reminiscent of Marjorie Post’s home and gardens in Florida. In the fall, we dig them up and overwinter a lot of these in our greenhouse. Needless to say, the greenhouses are a sight to see, chock-a-block full of exotic foliage and blooms from our regular orchid and tropical plant collection. Plants of note:
- Our Dendrobium Emma White orchid is just full of white, wax-like flowers that have just a touch of green at their centers. Dendrobiums are epiphytes which means that their roots derive moisture and minerals from the air. While some of our dendrobium collection are fastened directly to tree fern sheets, Emma White is potted in a tree bark mix.
- The Aliceara Marfitch ‘Howard’s Dream’ orchid has a long flower stalk of raspberry colored blooms. The unique, almost tie-dyed patterns on the petals and brackets make it worth seeing up close.
- The chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) has distinctive, red, cat-tail like flowers that hang down over the plant and last a long time. This New Guinea and Malaysia native can grow up to 6 feet in the wild but is most often used in the DC area as an annual in hanging baskets or as a houseplant. Ours is just a baby but covered in blooms.
- Another great flower that can be overwintered as a houseplant is the Cape primrose (Streptocarpella saxorum). Its purplish-blue flowers, fuzzy textured foliage and small stature brings interest to the front of a container. It’s these same characteristics that makes it perfect for an indoor window sill. The Cape primrose is typically a very forgiving plant as long as it’s kept out of direct sun. It is flowering heavily in the greenhouse now.