Andrew’s Gardens Tour
November 27, 2015 - Andrew Cannell
The first stop of a thoroughly enjoyable break in the US was Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Here I met up with Head Gardener Ed Broadbent and Director of Education Doug Needham. Ed gave me a wonderful tour around the main parts of the garden and I was astounded to see the $90 million Fountain Revitalization Project that is currently under construction. The way they had interpreted the Project with an enjoyable and hands-on interactive display had many visitors engaging with the work. It gave me ideas for how we can interpret the New American Garden whilst it is under construction.
Next up was a visit to Oehme van Sweden’s office in Washington DC where I had a meeting with Eric Groft and Lili Herrera who are designing our New American Garden. We discussed site conditions and planting ideas and then went to the firm’s exhibition at the National Building Museum which is entitled “The New American Garden”. It features a number of photographs from key projects along with a number of objects, including some gorgeous pots that were designed in-house by OvS for Siebert and Rice, a terracotta importer based in America. Inspired by flowers, they would no doubt be a fine addition to our Gardens.
Lili and Eric suggested I pay a visit to the National Arboretum, also in DC, and were helpful in arranging a tour with Scott Aker, the Head of Horticulture. I was very impressed with what they are doing on a tight budget and enjoyed the “Grass Roots Initiative”, an interactive exhibition exploring the science behind turf-growing in a changing climate and the role of ornamental grasses in public design. It gave me some good ideas for grasses to try in the garden here such as Muhlenbergia capillaris which has a lovely, dense, pink frothiness to it.
The highlight however was the wonderful welcome that my family and I had at Mount Vernon. We were given a truly memorable tour by Dean Norton, the Director of Horticulture. He literally put the boat out for us and took us along the Potomac River to view the house from the water on what turned out to be a beautiful and sunny day. Despite his distaste for all things British, it was fascinating to see how the 18th century English Landscape Movement clearly influenced George Washington at Mount Vernon, as Dean’s tour put us in the shoes of an 18th century visitor. I also took lots of pictures of the Upper Garden; following a complete restoration, it is now entirely different to our replica and poses questions for our own restoration plans. Watch this space!
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