Saturday, December 14, 2013

From Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom

During Thanksgiving week we spent a few days in Washington DC, you can read about our tour of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory and nearby Bartholdi Park in my previous posts.  After touring Bartholdi Park and the conservatory we took advantage of the sun peeking through the clouds and walked northeast across the National Mall toward Union Station.  First a look at the gardens surrounding the conservatory.  On the west side of the Conservatory are more outdoor gardens.  The building with the curved terraces in the background is the Museum of the American Indian which I referenced in my post on the conservatory.

A view of the glass dome of the conservatory from the gardens

The lawn is still green but not much longer now that very cold weather has set in.

Alongside the lawn is a modern arbor.

The gardens were laid out in geometric patterns and the plants are balanced without being strictly formal and symmetrical in arrangement.

Rose gardens with frozen roses caught in mid bloom.

It's easier to see the structure of the gardens in the winter.  It's also cold so I didn't spend a lot of time in these gardens which would be pretty to visit in warmer weather.

After a quick tour of the gardens we walked across the top of the National Mall and west face of the Capitol past the frozen reflecting pool.  We were surprised to see the Washington Monument covered in scaffolding.  The monument was damaged in a 5.8 earthquake in 2011 and is now undergoing repairs which are nearly complete.  Museums and government buildings are arranged along both sides of the Mall.  The red brick building on the left is the Smithsonian castle.

The sky was blue and the light clouds allowed the sun to shine through making for some beautiful scenes.

This might be a Chestnut tree from the looks of the nuts it was dropping at the base.

Rose gardens along the northeast side of the Capitol lawn.

Full view of the Capitol building with the House Chambers on the left and Senate Chambers on the right.

Bright Maples add a touch of color to this small park between the Capitol and Union Station.

The entrance to Union Station and hub of activity in this part of town.  I've been inside the building many times while changing from Amtrak to the Metro but rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the outside.

A replica of the Liberty Bell in front.  Wonder how long this has been here?

Dramatic arcades on each side of the entrance.  It's amazing how easy it is to get used to the architecture when you live here and fun for me to look at it all anew.

Shortly after lunch Neal went to his meetings while I decided to take a walk through the city and do a little more shopping.  Perhaps because I don't live in a big city now I appreciate the sights and sounds of the city--at least for a little while.  Here is the entrance gate to Chinatown.

Later in the afternoon I headed back to our hotel in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood which is home to the U.S. State Department, The Kennedy Center, and George Washington University (GWU).  The (in)famous Watergate building is there, too.  A small park near the GWU Hospital.  Washington has numerous small parks like this with huge trees to soften the city edges.

But it gets really, really cold and windy as the sun creates shadows on the streets, and I wasn't keen to keep walking in the city.  Shop local even when on the road.  This Austin-based Whole Foods Market was just a few blocks from the hotel so I picked up a salad and headed back to the room.  These people look cold don't they?

But I am a garden blogger after all and my walk back to the hotel took me through the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  Of course I used the opportunity to check out a few city gardens.

Eucalyptus?!  I don't think this is hardy here but it is a nice touch.

Frozen Camellias.

The Camellias and Eucalyptus are in a nicely landscaped corner garden.  This is a large garden for the neighborhood.

The view along New Hampshire Avenue across from the hotel.

Just had to go check out the gardens across the street.  Is that a yucca?

Their "straw" bale is sprouting.

On the other corner a Japanese Maple.

A seating area for warmer days.

Another Eucalyptus. The two corner gardens at opposite ends of the block were landscaped by the same firm.

There's a swing in the yard too.

Directly across from the hotel, bright leaves on the trees and colorful houses make a nice streetscape.

Tomorrow we head up to snowy Pennsylvania (the state, not the avenue) for Thanksgiving on the Fox family farm.


  1. Stunning photos, Shirley! I absolutely love DC and have been there many times, but never in the late fall/early winter. And I haven't explored the public gardens enough. Thanks for the tours, so I know what to check out when I get back there next time.

    1. There are plenty of gardens to see when you include the many gardens around museums and associated with historical sites.

  2. So many beautiful sights to see in this city! The farm will be a nice retreat from the city. How nice to spend Thanksgiving with family!

    1. The two scenes couldn't be more different and both were fun.

  3. Never seen Foggy Bottom, and it looks much nicer than it (or DC) sounds! Interesting scenes, and there are a few Eucalypts that can take some intense cold, at least a few times. The Blue Atlas Cedar positioned so close to the building reminds me of that 1990's fad in a landscape date stamp! The formality but looseness of the first photos is really nicely done - maybe it's the bald cypresses' verticality?

    1. The Eucalyptus looked a lot like the non-hardy ones but I will check them out. I love them and it would be fun to have one again. The garden was very American in style in that it had structure without strict formality. The cypresses really made the garden work because it is small and could easily be overtaken by the surrounding buildings.

  4. What a great trip...DC is one of my fav places to visit. I don't think you can see everything no matter how many times you go.

    1. There really is a lot to see and we didn't see everything even when we lived there.

  5. Nice tour of DC Shirley! Was reading your blog with a colleague and he was there just recently and your post bought back memories of his visit.


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