Category Archives: Washington, D.C., gardens

The Sunday porch: wisteria par excellence

In honor of the wisteria now beginning to bloom in many regions, here is a Sunday porch redux from 2013:

“On abandon, uncalled for but called forth. . . .”*

full cropped

I think this is the loveliest wisteria I have ever seen.  It grew on the porch columns of “Wisteria House,” at Massachusetts Avenue and Eleventh Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The photo was taken in 1919, by Martin A. Gruber.**

The house was torn down in 1924 to make room for the Wisteria Mansion apartment building.

Wisteria House detail, 1919, via Smithsonian Institution Commons

A naval officer brought the vine from China and gave it to the owner of the house, probably during the 1860s, according to the blog Greater Greater Washington.

Wisteria House, Harris & Ewing photo

The Harris & Ewing** photo above, taken between 1910 and 1920, shows the trunks of the (one?) plant emerging through openings at the base of the porch.  The house was built in 1863, and the two-story portico was added in 1869 — so it looks like the wisteria was planted between those years and protected during the construction.

Wisteria House, LOC photo

The National Photo Company image above shows the house about 1920.

*Lucie Brock-Broido, from “Extreme Wisteria

**Top and second (a detail of the first) photos via the Smithsonian Institution Archives Commons on flickr.  Third and fourth photos via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Life in gardens: colored eggs

chicken fed food color, Library of Congress“Possible now to color yolks of eggs “red, white and blue” by feeding hens different feeds,” April 7, 1939, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Washington, D.C., April 7. . . . Charles A. Denton, Junior Chemist, poultry nutrition laboratory of the National Agriculture Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, feeding a hen a certain food to produce a definite colored yolk.

— from the original Harris & Ewing caption

Blue eggs and ham?

More photos of the Department of Agriculture in action in the 1930s here and here.

. . . Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear. . . .
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist. . . .

— Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Boy and Egg

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Vintage landscape: tulip magnolia

Magnolias at the Capitol, Library of Congress“U.S. Capitol through tulip magnolia,” ca. 1920 – ca. 1950, by Theodor Horydczak, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The late March and April blooms of tulip and saucer magnolias are a well-loved sign of spring in Washington, D.C.

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Life in gardens: spring dance

Rites of Spring, 1927, Wash.DC, Library of CongressDancers and cherry blossoms, [Tidal Basin,] Washington, D.C.,” between 1923 and 1929, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., began on March 20 and continues until April 12. This year, the National Park Service is predicting that peak bloom will occur between April 11 and 14.

The first Tidal Basin Yoshino cherry trees — a gift from the city of Tokyo — were planted in 1912. The first organized celebration of them was held in 1927, when D.C. schoolchildren reenacted the planting.  The first Cherry Blossom Festival, which became the annual event, took place in 1935.

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Vintage landscape: daffodils

Middleburg, Va., flower show, 1931, Library of CongressMiddleburg Flower Show, Middleburg, Virginia, April 1931, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Right now, here in Stuttgart, a few daffodils have poked up from our front yard. I will probably pick them. I don’t usually like Narcissus in the landscape in early spring — the bright yellow is too much, too soon.  But, like those in the photo above, they look really nice in a vase.

There are also some fat cultivated Dutch hyacinths by our front door. They’re going to get the chop too.

In the fall, for next March and early April, I want to plant snowdrops and snake’s head fritillarias.

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Filed under American gardens, design, garden design, nature, plants, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens