Paradise Regained

Dumbarton Oaks garden closed for a while to replace what was probably 100 year old piping for fountains and no doubt shore up some walls and a few other things.  As a result, I was shut out of this particular paradise for some time.  Over the weekend, I took the opportunity to go for a visit.


The Katsura had lost its leaves, so I didn’t get to smell its cooked sugar scent. But look at that Japanese maple to the left. It’s definitely dressed up.

Those of you who follow the blog know this is my favorite place in Washington, D.C., and that I have written about it multiple times (just put Dumbarton Oaks in the search box). I was hoping there would be a new art installation, and to my delight, there was!


Was I enchanted? You bet!

All of the exhibits have been organically part of the garden.  This one, done by Martha Jackson Jarvis, a local artist, was no exception.  I saw the forms that looked like seed pods in a couple places in the garden.


Well, you can see red seeds from outside Magnolia pods, but…

There were also structures made from bamboo harvested from the gardens and embellished with metal, glass and other materials.


I liked these and the way they were formed.


Here they look as though they’re on the march. Or perhaps part of a small family group…

While I could see that the green mosaic work was a stem and the red mosaic work might be seeds peeping out from a disintegrating outer shell, the second group of pods looked more like wounded slugs fleeing evil bamboo towers than fallen pods, but then, how did day of the triffids start?


Ouch! Let’s get away!

The garden had beautiful surprises other than the art installation.  There were fall crocuses.


The cones on the Cedars of Lebanon look to be near the completion of their two year development.


The view into Rock Creek Park showed the color that’s left in this odd delayed season.


There were paths that had to be walked,


Roses that needed to be sniffed,


Surprises at the end of paths,


And places to rest.


Have a great week!


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36 Responses to Paradise Regained

  1. Those cones are magnificent – being a complete cretin and completely cold today I wonder how much warmth they would give out on a good fire and for how long…… I love environmental art. I especially like the ones where you could walk past and not realise it was made by human hand unless you look carefully. Some of these look really lively. I like the little creatures in the first photo. They could be exotic animals playing a particularly alien mating game. And the bamboos that could be turning into tepees – or triffids. 😀 I like how the imagination is woken up to see possibilities. I’m sorry I didn’t get to visit this place when I was in DC. I needed to have a longer visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      They take two years to mature, those cones! I took a picture last year when they were green. I do love that place. Yes, you need to see it. It’s best from October to April when you can see the bones of the garden. Yes, this little red cuts were a bit alarming and made me think badly of the bamboo structures. Ah, well!


  2. tonytomeo says:

    This is not what I was expecting from an article with ‘Paradise’ in the title. It rained last Wednesday and Friday. The smoke is gone, and the fires are out.
    The flowering cherries in other parts of Washington D. C. are what all of those types of flowering cherries are compared to here. I needed to get one for my mother in about 1990 because she liked them so much in Washington D. C.. I mentioned that they were Japanese, and she explained that they were from Washington D. C.. I explained that they were imported to San Jose from Japan a long time ago, so she wanted to know when the Japanese got them from Washington D. C.. My Pa told me not to argue. They are from Washington D. C..

    Liked by 2 people

    • arlingwoman says:

      Oh, that is laughably familiar to me. We have mostly Yoshinos and Kwanzans here. The ones on Cherry Hill at Dumbarton Oaks are Yoshinos. They often blossom a bit earlier than the tidal basin ones, as they are sheltered and on a southeastern exposure. Yes, I realized after I named the post that it might be a bit confusing, but Dumbarton Oaks is my little bit of paradise here… Along with art installations…

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonytomeo says:

        There are two old Yoshino cherries at work that need to be cut down. They have been there so long that everyone in the neighborhood knows them and will be sad to see them go. Every spring, a little less foliates. I expect one to be completely dead this spring, but hope to keep the other alive for another year. A new one will be planted over winter. Incidentally, my brother-in-law’s middle name is Yoshino.

        Liked by 1 person

      • arlingwoman says:

        The blossoms smell like cherry Lifesavers! Or perhaps that’s the other way around. We have three in our courtyard and are nursing them, but we’ll see how long we can make them last. The ones at the Tidal Basin are looking their age and there are many new ones.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Tang says:

      The Japanese did ‘borrow’ heavily from other cultures, including the germ of civilisation, language; so why not cherry trees? Who they borrow from is a dirty word in the USA so I won’t mention it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes! I have accompanied you before in the Dumbarton Oaks garden! I’m not too enamoured of the slug-like art forms, but it is certainly a delightful place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      It was the red mosaic slits looking like wounds that made me go that direction. I liked the first one with no red slashes. Those tipi things were pretty impressive, too, with all sorts of additions and decorations.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sylvie G says:

    I like the art installation. It is good that there is an effort to maintain the infrastructure. Too many times, these days, petty politics mean that public places are neglected, because it does not pay enough politically.

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      That’s certainly true. This place is owned by Harvard, which has plenty of money, and likely an endowment for it. The gardens are open 2-5:00 6 days a week, so they can be maintained. It’s a haven!


  5. TanGental says:

    How splendid. Feels like I’m in a Cotswold garden so familiar are the trees and weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Geoff! It’s a lovely place, and free between October and April, which is when I really want to go to it anyway. Harvard owns it, along with the house, which is a study center for landscape gardening and holds collections of Byzantine art and Pre-Columbian art. I mostly go to the gardens.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A nice pictorial story! Between the art installations and the fall crocuses, my head would have been bobbing and weaving around!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      It’s hard not to see something new there, even after decades of visiting it. A couple paths were still closed, so I had to go through it from a different way and it gave new views.


  7. A lovely tour – roses, cones, natural sculpture, winding paths. I can see why it is a favourite

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wowsah! So much to admire—cones, art, paths, places to rest. And leaves that smell like sugar? (They had fallen, I know.) Count me in!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    This looks like a garden I would love. Well designed, beautiful plants and trees and art, too!


  10. KerryCan says:

    Oh, so beautiful! And so varied–there’s really something for every taste. I’ve never seen cedar cones like that–they’re so perfect they almost look fake. And that’s a very cute picture of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Kerry! I have a picture of those cones from last year when they were still green, but quite large. It’s just a beautiful place. I’ve been going there since the 80’s and never tire of it.


  11. Mary Tang says:

    Looks like you landed in Lilliput. It is good to see nature enlarged and feel insignificant in its presence.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Looks like a great place to spend time – never a dull moment by the look of it.


  13. It truly is a magical place.


  14. Maria says:

    Those cedar cones are so interesting. Never seen them so big.


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