Special Events, The Mall

Orchid Mystique at US Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of Rukasu1
courtesy of Rukasu1

If seeing cherry blossom buds makes you impatient for late March, the US Botanic Garden has you (and your date…or camera…) covered with their annual display of orchids – Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph.

I visited last weekend on an extremely affordable date (admission is always free), and decided that the Botanic Garden must have some of the best curators in the city.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan’s cherry blossom gift to DC this year, the orchid show has a distinctly Japanese flair. Archways span the garden court’s fountains, which take on new character with steam and floating flowers. Orchids snake through the building and hang in all colors from bridges overhead. The East Gallery houses a Japanese rock garden with near-perfect bonzai. On a less crowded weekday visit, the quiet space would complement midday meditation.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

4.29.10 by moxie.marmalade

It’s summer now, right?  What, this is spring?  You could have fooled me.  It’s as if we jumped straight from winter into the sweltering days of summer with only a few enjoyable days in between.  The good news is that Mother Nature wasn’t fooled as many flowers are in bloom across our region.  While this beautiful calla lily may have been found in a bucket at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market, I saw many flowers as I toured the area this weekend.  Mount Vernon’s gardens were filled screaming kids and loads of colorful blooms.  The roses in the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral weren’t as abundant as I’ve seen them, but there were some beauties there for sure.  And at Fort Reno Park (the highest natural elevation in DC) and the National Arboretum, buttercups covered the ground like a sea of gold.

While not necessary, the best way to photograph flowers is with a macro lens.  The photograph above was taken with a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, showing us the details of the calla lily and throwing the background out of focus for some beautiful bokeh.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go turn up my air conditioner and pour myself a sweaty glass of iced tea.  Let me know when the temperature is down to 75 degrees and the humidity is gone.

Entertainment, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, The Great Outdoors, Tourism

Tourism: Hillwood Museum and Gardens

Photo courtesy of
‘Hillwood Museum’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

Hidden up in Van Ness, Hillwood Museum and Gardens is a few acres of green, colorful, luxe heaven. The tagline for the museum is “where fabulous lives” and I think that is the best possible way to sum up the place.

You drive up to the gates (yes, it is gated, they also recommend you have reservations to visit the grounds, though that is not required, we did not) and a guard lets you in. You drive up a windy, steep azalea-lined road, and are directed to the visitors center where you check in. The suggested donation is $12, and not particularly suggested, much more mandatory. But well worth it. After you are given a map and the lay of the land by guides, you’re set free to roam the house and the gardens.

There are many, many gardens to explore at Hillwood. There is the french parterre, the rose garden, a putting green, a Japanese-style garden, a lunar lawn, and a cutting garden. But I think it might be easier to show you, than tell you what those are like. Continue reading

Featured Photo

Featured Photo

how does your garden grow? by Pappa91

With all of the dreary rain we’ve been having lately, it’s easy to become a little mopey.  If you’re feeling more than a little mopey, say very depressed, take my advice and never move to Seattle.  Instead just stare at this beautifully lit photo by Flickrite Pappa91 which is just oozing and dripping cheery colors from across the spectrum, all the way from the crisp orange and yellow petals in the foreground to the buttery blue bokeh in the background.  Mmmmm…buttery blue bokeeeeh.

It’s easy to spend a lot of your time focusing (no pun intended!) on the subject of your nature photos, but don’t lose sight (again, no pun!) of the background. One way to make things really ‘pop’ is to pay attention to what’s in the bokeh.  For example when I took this shot, I framed the apple so that a patch of black-eyed susans were in the background because yellow and green compliment each other quite nicely.

So remember, rain may be bad for your mood but it’s good for trees and flowers, don’t move to Seattle if you’re already depressed, and don’t be afraid to experiment with the areas of your photo that will inevitably become a beautiful blur.

Downtown, The Daily Feed

Its Spring Planting Time!

Have you planted your spring bulbs yet?

Have you planted your spring bulbs yet?

While the nip in the air says fall is here and winter is coming, look beyond today and into tomorrow – spring will be here soon enough. So as you unbox the sweaters and take out the coats, be sure to look for bulbs too. Bulbs that will take April showers and make them May flowers.

Down at Farragut Square, the office flower boxes are getting that kind of spring touch this week. Are you too planning and planting this far ahead?