Early pink magnolias

Tulip magnolia

When we arrived back in Washington, D.C., in the first week of April, I enjoyed the flowers of the tulip magnolias.  They were practically the only blooms in the still wintery landscape.

Tulip magnolia at DACOR-Bacon Hse., Wash., D.C., April 2013/enclos*ure

Although I believe what I was calling ‘tulip’ magnolias were really saucer magnolias (Magnolia x soulangeana), which are a hybrid of tulip or Mulan magnolia (M. liliiflora) and Yulan magnolia (M. denudata).

Tulip magnolia at DACOR-Bacon Hse., Wash., D.C., April 2013/enclos*ure

At DACOR-Bacon House, about two blocks west of the White House, I took a lot of photos of two magnolia trees that are planted at the tops of retaining walls, so that the lower blooms are right at eye level.

One of the best places in Washington to enjoy this tree blooming (or leafed out and casting shade) is the Moongate Garden of the Smithsonian’s Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Tulip magnolia at DACOR-Bacon Hse., Wash., D.C., April 2013/enclos*ure

And that Washington flower, the pink magnolia tree, blooms now/ In little yards, its trunk a smoky gray. . . .

James Schuyler, from “Hymn to Life

More steps, Washington, D.C.

Here’s another steps/ramp (driveway) combination that I snapped during our recent travels — at the back of DACOR Bacon House, an historic former residence a couple of blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C.

I like the mix of old brick and pebbly concrete.

BELOW: In front of a D.C. office building, I also spotted this nice solution to those sharp planting bed corners that are always bare dirt because people cut across them.

DACOR Bacon House garden

Photo from DACOR, Inc.  DACOR is an acronym for Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired.

On the other side of 18th and F Streets, N.W., is the DACOR Bacon House (also known as the Ringgold-Carroll House), built in 1824/5.

On Wednesday evening, I attended a reception there and was able to spend a little time in its nice walled garden — a serene, old-fashioned place in the midst of tall modern office buildings.

DACOR-Bacon House garden walled off from busy F Street.  Unfortunately, it was too hot that evening for the event to be held outside, so the chairs are a little scattered.
DACOR-Bacon House was built in 1824/5.
Under a willow oak tree, a planting of coleus, lirope, and mondo grass.
The garden is now surrounded by modern buildings.

Since 1980, the house has been the home of the DACOR Bacon House Foundation and DACOR, Inc.

From 1831 to 1833, it was a boarding house whose tenants included Chief Justice John Marshall and several other Supreme Court Justices. Virginia Murray Bacon and her husband, a U.S. Congressman, bought the house in 1925.  She lived there until her death at the age of 89, when she bequeathed it to the Foundation.

I was told that Mrs. Bacon spotted the garden’s huge willow oak  in the nearby town of Silver Spring about 65 years ago.  She was so taken with it that she bought it and had it dug up and trucked to 18th and F Streets, then hoisted over the garden wall by crane.

The giant willow oak in the center of the garden.

DACOR Bacon House also houses the Ringgold-Marshall Museum and can be toured Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.  It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The DACOR Bacon House Foundation works to develop mutual international understanding and strengthen ties between the people of the United States and other nations.  DACOR, Inc., is an association of retired officers of the U.S. Foreign Service and of other foreign affairs agencies and their spouses.

DACOR members (click the link above) may rent the house and garden for weddings, and it would be a really lovely venue.  (In the 1860s, President and Mrs. Lincoln attended a wedding there.)