What to do now that the gardening season is over?

True gardeners are a bit relieved when the work is done, the bulbs are planted and the tools are clean and put away for the winter.  But it doesn't take long till our minds are back in the garden making plans for next year.  Gazing at magazines and looking for inspiration.  And at this time of year, you don't have to travel very far south to find gardens that still have fall colour. photo 8

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Washington D.C. for a few days and did a quick search for public gardens in the area and happened upon Green Spring Gardens not far away.

When we arrived we found the Wednesday morning volunteers hard at work. I wished I had brought work gloves!

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The historic brick house set in the Gardens was built in 1784 on 540 acres of farmland in Alexandria, Va.  It was lived in continually until the final owners donated it in 1970, along with 16 acres to the county for a park. They had purchased it in 1942 as their "out of town villa" where they entertained extensively.

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Their gardens, designed by Beatrix Farrand, included boxwood hedging, roses, and perennial borders. The sloping lawn at the back of the house was planted with a semi-circular boxwood hedge and stone retaining wall with step leading down to the more natural area. Time has taken its toll on the original design and the boxwoods are all about twelve feet tall.

photo19The sweeping view and expansive lawns, however, are fabulous.

photo 10Since being acquired by the county, the park has become a horticultural centre.  Home to the Master Gardeners and the national witch hazel collection, there is plenty to see and learn.  A wooded stream valley with ponds, a naturalistic native plant garden,

photo17over 20 thematic demonstration gardens, including a childrens' demonstration garden

photo5and possibly the cleanest glasshouse filled with tropicals that I have ever seen!

photo22The  possibilities for our garden are endless!