Saturday, April 17, 2010

Colors of spring

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I thought I'd share with you some of the colors of spring I found at the National Arboretum last week (I promise this is the last post on the subject!).Nothing says spring like tulips - all of the varied colors. Only one other thing at the arboretum matched the colors of the tulips in saturation. The koi!
Oranges and yellows, greys and blues -all of the colors of the rainbow in one little pond!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bonsai Garden

A few of you asked for some pictures of actual plants from the National Bonsai museum at the National Arboretum rather than the architecture. I'm happy to oblige but I'm sorry to say I don't know much about them (other than they were pretty amazing)! The twisted and gnarled trunk of this tree caught my eye. I love the shiny leaves as well for their contrast.
This trunk seemed to be forming a Trojan hourse: doesn't it look like a statue? Amazing.One more sculptural tree trunk. Keep in mind these bonsai are generally around 12-24" tall.
A weeping coniferous bonsai.
My absolute favorites were the ones which formed miniature forests.
This grouping was the most successful: moss as grass and tiny pebbles as a path. You can just imagine a gnome walking through at any moment!
Not all of the plants were in miniature. At the entrance to the bonsai garden was this huge flowering vine. I think the bees were enjoying it as much as we were!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More of China in DC

Downtown isn't the only place in DC with a touch of Chinese Architecture (remember THIS post?)The Chinese Pavilion at the National Arboretum contains a beautiful collection of bonsai, some dating from the early 17th century and donated by the Japanese royal family. These tiny specimens weren't the only objects of my delight though, but rather the structure they were contained within. I love the underside of the entry pavilion's red painted undercarriage. Check out this gorgeous detail.
The adjacent wall isn't too shabby either! These undulating walls remind me of the garden walls at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest (see my post linked here to compare, photo towards the end).Surprises are around every corner throughout the garden. My favorite though was probably the most subtle; the detailing of the aluminum guardrail below.
So what is the obsession DC has with China? It's well founded for sure!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Capitol Columns

I escaped the heat of the city this past weekend for the spring greenery of the National Arboretum. One of the more interesting installations in this large park are the original 22 (out of 24) sandstone Corinthian columns from the East (entry) portico of the Capitol Building.The columns began life in 1828, quarried from Aquia Creek in Virginia and then sent on a barge to the construction site of the capitol where they were carved.
In 1958, the columns were removed from the Capitol building in an effort to complete and perfect the original design. These columns witnessed the history of our country.
In the 1980s, a group of conservators gathered and raised money to erect the columns as a memorial in the National Arboretum.The columns rest perched on a small knoll in a 20 acre clearing. In beautiful weather, such as we had this weekend, families bring picnics and relax in their stately shadow.
Stone saved from the renovation of the Capitol was used to create a base on which to walk and create a fountain at the base of the columns (which you can see on the lower right, above).
Patron's names were carved into this salvaged marble: one of the more famous names we saw was Katharine Graham, of Washington Post fame.
Next time you are in DC, take the time to visit the beautiful National Arboretum - a piece of the country right in our Nations Capital.
More information on the Capitol Columns online HERE.