Watershed friendly landscaping II

September 14, 2006


A watershed friendly garden doesn’t necessarily mean having a pond or other water feature, but many of the gardens I visited on the Arlington County tour did have ponds. This one was particularly lovely and just the sound of the water on a hot day made me feel instantly a little cooler.

Watershed friendly landscaping I

September 13, 2006


Anything we do on land eventually affects the streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean because the runoff takes into the water pollutants, chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides, animal droppings, and so on.

The most obvious ways we can help are to pick up after our animals; not to pour oil or paint or other hazardous materials into the storm drains—in the Washington area, whatever is dumped into a storm drain eventually ends up in the Cheapeake Bay to the detriment of fish and wildlife; and not to use environmentally unfriendly fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides.

Gaining in popularity are watershed friendly gardens that make use of native plants and trees, composting, nonharmful chemicals, and various other practices to conserve water in the garden itself, and to ensure that any runoff is not going to harm the local watershed. Such landscaping also creates an inviting habitat for wildlife.

This summer, Arlington County held a Watershed Friendly Yard Tour, and the owners of this house were proud participants.

Mystery: Part I

September 7, 2006

I was going through old negatives and contact sheets today and found this. I find the scene rather moody and mysterious, and it’s made even more so by the fact that I can’t remember where it is. I think it’s the grounds of Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, but I’m not completely sure. (I wish I’d kept better records.)

Maybe tomorrow’s post, a shot taken at the same location, will provide a clue, and one of my readers will be able to enlighten me.

Water gardening

August 19, 2006

If you live in the Washington area and you’re thinking of putting a pond in your garden, the best place to go is Lilypons Water Gardens. There you’ll find all the inspiration you need, supplies, countless kinds of water lilies, koi, and experts to help you plan and stock your water garden. They’ll even install it for you.


Lilypons is about an hour’s drive from Washington in the countryside of Frederick County, Maryland. Once there, you can wander 300 acres of water lily and lotus beds, koi tanks, water gardens, and water features. The business has been family owned and operated since 1917, and it shows in the friendly atmosphere—how many garden centers do you know that encourage you to bring a picnic lunch and eat al fresco?

Footprints on the sands of time

July 20, 2006

The beach may not be a geographical part of the Washington metropolitan area, but it is certainly part of the culture. Each summer, groups of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings rent beach houses for the season, and on Fridays, they leave work as early as they decently can and join the stream of slow-moving traffic headed for the Delaware beaches. Sunday nights they do the same thing in reverse. It always seems to me that any relaxation is negated by the stress of driving back to town, which can, I am told, take four or five hours.

I adore the ocean, but I prefer to see beaches devoid of people. I’d rather go between October and May, even if walking on the beach means wearing several layers of clothes and having the wind bring tears to my eyes. Seeing snow falling on the ocean is on my list of things to do before I die.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Paddle boat

June 3, 2006
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A view of the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Va., through the wheel of a paddleboat. Fredericksburg, about a 45-minute drive south of Washington, D.C., was the boyhood home of George Washington and is rich in Civil War history.

And it isn’t even August

May 30, 2006
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In true Washington fashion, we went from spring to summer almost overnight. It was 90 deg. F/32 deg. C today—and the air conditioning wasn’t working (or maybe hasn’t been switched on) in the building where I work. If it’s equally hot tomorrow, at least I can cool off by looking at this photograph!

Best of both worlds

April 21, 2006
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Washington is a city that abounds with parks, open spaces, and bike trails. You don’t even have to go outside the city to find something close to wilderness. Within sight of the Washington Monument is Roosevelt Island in the Potomac, with 88 acres of hiking trails. And from the balcony of my apartment in Alexandria, VA., I can watch ducks and geese on the stream and see people walking along the footpath in a quite extensive park. I feel as if I am in the middle of the countryside, yet I’m a matter of yards off a busy thoroughfare.