Wooden garden gate, Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Washington, D.C., 1938, from the Arthur Peck Photograph Collection, via Oregon State University (OSU) Special Collections and Archives Commons on flickr.
Arthur Peck was a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Oregon Agricultural College from 1908 to 1948. During his long career, he created a teaching library of 24 boxes of glass lantern slides — now in OSU’s archives.
Does anyone know if this gate still exists in the Gardens?
The morning started with Ann Aldrich, the Conservancy’s Program Director, making sure we knew how to recognize poison ivy. Then we all doused our exposed skin in Tecnu, a soap that mitigates the effects of exposure.
We learned that poison ivy was not one of the weeds we would be pulling — it is native to the area and an important source of (protein) food for birds.
We were clearing a meadow area just above the stone pump house (no. 2), on the right in the drawing below.
Below is a picture of the area before we started. . .
And below is what it looked like after we finished (about 3 1/2 hours later). We probably would have cleared out more above the old log, but there was a bees’ nest on the other side.
Ann has spent many a weekend this summer leading garden enthusiasts, college students, and D.C. schoolchildren in “weed warrior-ing.” There is so much to do, and I am so impressed with the group’s ambitious commitment to this lovely place.
As I was leaving, I stopped to admire the Arts and Crafts-style stonework of the dams that Farrand installed all along the little stream that runs through the park.
The Conservancy was just about to have a contractor make repairs to this area when the government shutdown put a halt to even volunteer efforts. (The Conservancy supports and is supervised by the National Park Service.) I hope the work is underway now. Earlier this year, the group was able to place compost filter socks (below) near the Lovers’ Lane entrance to the park.
They are preventing further damage from the water runoff that comes shooting down the small asphalt road that runs along Dumbarton Oaks Gardens.
I had a great time and I will definitely do it again when we move back to Washington (the park is an easy walk from our house). If you live in the D.C. area and would like to help, click here and ask to be put on the Conservancy’s mailing list.
Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy is also holding a fundraiser on November 7, 6:30 p.m., at The Josephine Butler Parks Center. Author Richard Guy Wilson will speak on “Edith Wharton at Home: Life on the Mount.” (Wharton was Farrand’s aunt.) Tickets are $35; click here for more information.
* Farrand actually specified porcelain berry vine to be grown over her arbors, which just makes me shudder.
Rosamond Carr’s cottage in the Virunga hills is covered in creeping fig or Ficus pumila. The plant (along with the nice windows and the stone steps) turned a little square box into something really charming.
The Orangery of Dumbarton Oaks is also draped with a wonderful specimen, which was planted in its northwest corner in the 1860s.
Creeping fig will survive outdoors in (U.S.) zones 8 – 11. It is native to east Asia.
The plant is not fussy about its conditions, but does need consistently moist soil. Very fast growing, its aerial roots will adhere to anything, even metal and glass. All the sources I consulted warned against letting it attach to a wooden structure. With brick or concrete, it should be grown on something designed to support the plant forever, as the little rootlets will be very hard to remove if you later want a bare surface.
The fruit of the ‘Awkeotsong’ variety is used to make aiyu jelly in Taiwan (and ice jelly in Singapore). But several websites warned that all parts of the plant are poisonous. It may be that the processing technique makes the jelly safe to eat.
Since you inquire about creepers and ficus pumila,
They sum up the mood of a dweller in the wilds;
Respectfully visiting you in calf’s muzzle breeks* with a dove-headed walking stick.
If you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you’ve probably realized that I love anything old and contorted. (No, I’m not going to make you look at any more 200-year-old boxwoods.)
So, of course, I wanted to share my photos of two lovely old Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) at Dumbarton Oaks at the edge of the East Lawn.
Just for fun, here’s an entertaining little video (well, I thought so) of the staff of the New York Botanical Garden moving a mature weeping Katsura tree last fall. It first appeared on the NYBG’s blog, Plant Talk.