Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit a beautiful public garden in Alexandria, Va. Twenty minutes from the Capitol Building, Green Spring Gardens is a National Historic Site originally donated to Fairfax County by its previous owners, Michael and Belinda Straight. The park comprises 27 acres and boasts a vegetable garden, tree and shrub plantings, perennial borders, container-grown tropicals, woodland plantings and a lovely rock garden. There’s also a gift shop, horticultural library and educational programming. Here are some of my favorite photos of Green Spring Gardens and information about the cool plants I found there.
The vegetable garden demonstrates techniques for trellising veggies and highlights some new vegetable varieties. I love the raised bed with plastic hoops that, when covered with plastic or a fabric row cover, serves as a little greenhouse. There are many deer in the park, so the entire vegetable garden is surrounded by 8-foot-high plastic mesh deer netting.
The parking lot at Green Spring Gardens is ringed with plantings that partner tender tropical plants with hearty perennials and grasses. I love the textural differences between the burgundy-leaved castor bean plant, the chartreuse elephant ear and the variegated ornamental grass.
Here are two other examples showing the stunning results of partnering large-leaved tropicals with tender and finely textured annuals, like salvias and coleus. I love the spiky, variegated yucca plant in the forefront of the first picture.
Among the several new-to-me plants I discovered at Green Spring Garden are Asclepias physocarpa (otherwise known as “hairy balls”!) and the amazing purple, trumpet-like blooms of Royal Queen Iochroma. I’m in love!
There were an extraordinary number of gorgeous container-grown combinations in the garden. Here are two of my favorites: a red-leaved canna with orange lantana nestled into a huge blue pot and an agave topping off a birdbath!
And finally, I greatly enjoyed walking through the rock garden which was situated on a traffic island in the center of the circular drive. It was filled with small conifers, trough gardens and tough little alpine plants.