Category Archives: Washington, D.C., gardens

October Bloom Day: Washington, D.C.

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On this Bloom Day, I thought I would share some photos that I took this week of the remaining flowers and various seed heads in one of my favorite gardens in the city, the Smithsonian Institution’s Butterfly Habitat Garden.

(You can see more of the Butterfly Garden here.)

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is the 15th of every month. To see what’s blooming around other garden bloggers, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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The Sunday porch: rooftop retreat

As the summer heat comes to an end,* I thought you might enjoy this repeat porch from July 2012.

This sleeping porch for hot summer nights was added to the roof of the White House during the Taft Administration (1909 – 1913). Photo by National Photo Company, via Library of Congress.

It’s a little funny to think of the country’s first family climbing up to the roof to bed down in what is basically a shed with screened sides.

Click here to read more about sleeping porches.

*Fall officially begins on Tuesday in the northern hemisphere.

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Life in gardens: warm afternoon

Warm afternoon 2, Southwest Washington, D.C., E. Rosskam, LoC. . . in Southwest Washington, D.C., 1941, by Edwin Rosskam, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Southwest is the capital’s smallest quadrant, located south of the National Mall along the Potomac River.  After the Civil War, it was populated by freed Blacks to its east and Scotch, Irish, German, and Eastern European immigrants to its west. Its old neighborhoods were largely destroyed in some very questionable “urban renewal” in the 1950s.

Summer specializes in time, slows it down almost to dream. . .

Jennifer Grotz, from “Late Summer

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The Sunday porch: Miss Kale’s

Miss Kale's house, via LoC“Washington, D.C. The home of Miss Norma Kale, a Woodrow Wilson High School English teacher,” October 1943, by Esther Bubley, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all photos here).

What a charming, patchwork quilt of a house: a Gothic window, a Dutch Colonial Revival shape, and a couple of Greek columns. The screened porch angles away from each side of the door. There are climbing rose canes around the downstairs windows.

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The specific location is not given.  The Palisades neighborhood in northwest Washington comes to mind.  It still has old tall trees and funny little houses set among them. But much more of the city must have looked that way 70 years ago.

Bubley took a large number of photographs of students and teachers at Woodrow Wilson High School — including several of Miss Kale grading papers at home and hosting the editors of the student newspaper in front of the fire in her living room.

Two of the pictures also include an elderly man, who may have been her father; she was about 40 at the time.

Miss Kale and students, via LoC“Miss Norma Kale. . . greeting some of her students who have come to her home on a Sunday afternoon.”

I like the old concrete and wire fence and gate too.  It looks like the posts go up to support an arbor over the gate.

Sadly, an In Memoriam page in the 1956 Woodrow Wilson yearbook said that Miss Kale had died in March of that year. It noted that “Miss Kale placed importance on nature and the worth of human character, rather than on material possessions.”

. . . I love
this garden in all its moods,
even under its winter coat
of salt hay, or now,
in October, more than
half gone over: here
a rose, there a clump
of aconite. . . .

James Schuyler, from “Korean mums

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Life in gardens: the dooryard bloom’d

Greenbelt, Md., 1938, by Marion Post Wolcott, via Library of CongressMother and daughter cut flowers in their cottage style garden in Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., September 1938, by Marion Post Wolcott, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Greenbelt was one of three* “greenbelt” towns created by the New Deal federal government in the late 1930s.  The built-from-scratch communities were designed to provide the best of both city and country living.

Greenbelt, Md., 1938, by Marion Post Wolcott, via Library of Congress

In addition to affordable housing, they incorporated commercial, medical, educational, and social facilities — all within park-like landscaping.

. . .Greenbelt was an experiment in both the physical and social planning that preceded its construction. Homes were grouped in superblocks, with a system of interior walkways permitting residents to go from home to town center without crossing a major street. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic were carefully separated. The two curving major streets were laid out upon and below a crescent-shaped natural ridge. Shops, school, ball fields, and community buildings were grouped in the center of this crescent.

. . .The first families were chosen not only to meet [low] income criteria, but also to demonstrate willingness to participate in community organizations.

[They] arrived on October 1, 1937, [and] found no established patterns or institutions of community life. Almost all were under 30 years of age. All considered themselves pioneers in a new way of life. A mix of blue and white collar workers, they reflected the religious composition of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish; but because of the racial bias controlling public policy at that time, all were white.**

. . .In 1952, when Congress voted to sell off the greenbelt towns, citizens in Greenbelt formed a housing cooperative (Greenbelt Veterans Housing Corporation, later Greenbelt Homes, Inc.)

– “The History of Greenbelt, Maryland

Greenbelt, MD, in 2005, HABS, via Library of Congress

Old Greenbelt” has been well preserved over the years and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997.  The photo above shows some of its rowhouses with gardens in 2005.  It was taken by James W. Rosenthal for an Historic American Buildings Survey (via Library of Congress).

More Library of Congress photos of Greenbelt are here (1938) and here (2005).

*Along with Greendale, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee, and Greenhills, Ohio, near Cincinnati.

**The Census found that 41% of residents were African-American in 2000.

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