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. If there's a chill in the air, stop by the greenhouse. It is erupting into color in anticipation of Orchid Month starting in March.
Today's highlights in the greenhouse:
- What better way to start the year than with an award-winning orchid! Andrew Bedenbaugh, our greenhouse assistant, came across a Dendrobium hybrid (Dendrobium Specio-kingianum) with unique magenta-colored flowers. The American Orchid Society judges agreed and awarded it a Highly Commended Certificate. The plant is now known as Dendrobium Specio-kingianum ‘Memoria Nina Sue’ and can be viewed in the greenhouse.
- 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.
- Paphiopedilum are known as a "slipper” orchids due to their flower shape. Paphiopedilum A. Dimmock is an oldie but goodie, registered in 1902. Although it might not have the novelty of today’s hybrids, it is appreciated for its shape, color and reliability. There are various blooming right now.
- Our newest exhibition, Perfume & Seduction, opening on February 16th, features a section of fragrant plants in our greenhouse. One cannot help but stop and smell the sweet fragrance of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides). Though it is a tad too tender to plant directly in the garden in DC, it can be kept in a pot and brought inside through the winter months. If you already have one as a houseplant, think about starting an acid-loving fertilizer program in March and putting it outside when temperatures moderate.
Plants of note in the garden:
- The witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia 'Pallida') between the motor court and cutting garden is just glowing. The large deciduous shrub is full of yellow flowers comprised of crinkled strap-like petals. ‘Pallida’ is a cross between Japanese and Chinese witch hazel and known for its abundance of blooms, attractive form and good fall color.
- Container plantings still abound throughout the grounds. Find fun combinations of different foliage colors and textures. At the vista terrace, staff have matched golden dwarf hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea’) with wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’) and yellow ripple ivy.
- The flower buds on the paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha) in the western Lunar Lawn bed are swelling and quite noticeable! They have taken on a silvery-white color that reminds some people of packs of Q-tips. Soon, these buds will open to fragrant pale yellow flowers that can last into April. Paperbushes have an interesting history and are widely cultivated in Japan where the inner bark is used to make paper for Japanese banknotes.