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.
Today's highlights in the gardens:
- Seasonal color was an integral part of the gardens for Marjorie Merriweather Post. The beds bordering the Lunar Lawn were always full of summer annuals. This year we have turned up the heat with an orange and red theme. Here you will find Colocasia ‘Diamond head’, Coleus ‘Inferno’, Canna ‘Cannova Bronze Leaf Orange’, two types of celosia and Cordyline ‘Red Star’ behind an edging of ‘Sunpatiens Orange and Red’. This is just part of the nearly ten thousand flowers and tropicals planted in May coming on strong now.
- The cutting garden is really starting to take off and one plant of interest is the white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora). White, flat-topped blooms are massed above ferny foliage. This summer annual grows to two feet tall and reseeds heavily so one plant is all you need to eventually fill your garden.
- It looks like a good year for the bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). The plants along the path to the southern patio of the putting green are particularly nice with beautiful, blue mop-like flower heads. Bigleaf hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs that grow to roughly four feet depending on the cultivar and are great for shady areas.
- An interesting new perennial added near the Dacha is dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana 'Blue Dragon'). This short, spreading plant, growing only eight inches high by eighteen wide, produces blue hooded flowers with two lips above and three below. The delicate green foliage looks nice on a sunny edge even when not in bloom.
Plants of note in the greenhouse:
- There are still many wonderful orchids blooming in the greenhouse. Among those are the hybrid Oncostele Catatante 'Pacific Sunspots'. This beauty puts out multiple long spikes of orangish brown flowers with a yellow lip. Oncostele is not a genus you will find out in the wild but produced through many man made crosses.
- Another orchid in bloom now is Prosthechea prismatocarpa. This plant features a flower spike full of interesting little blooms with pink lips and spotted sepals that can last for months. Prosthechea prismatocarpa is native to the higher elevations of Costa Rica and Panama.
- In the tropical house, the showy medinilla (Medinilla magnifica) is flowering and it is certainly living up to its name. Native to the Philippine Islands, this woody shrub produces stunning, long, weeping panicles of pink flowers topped by pink bracts. The showy medinilla is an epiphyte deriving its water and nutrients from the air while living on other trees in tropical forests.