June 4, 2011

Dumbarton Oaks Garden Revisit

Urn Garden
Wherever I travel, garden is my first search in local visitor’s guide. Quite a few of my trips were planned with a specific garden in mind, such as tea plantation or garden with camellia collections. Among all garden visits, Dumbarton Oaks Garden hidden on the edge of DC’s Georgetown left me with a special longing to go back again. With all the intention (I even have the visitor info sheet with me all the time), it’s the travel writing class that propelled me to make it happen again.

brick stairway framed by boxwood
Thirty years ago, the visit was with my young family. We followed the guide map and walked through terraces, smelled the roses, posed for group photos. It was a joyous weekend outing in a pleasant, beautiful setting. I didn’t realize then that the intrinsic reason for my longing to go back after 30 years is partly because of the happy memory, and partly the subtle scents of boxwood and magnolia blossoms.

Lovers' Lane Pool
For this visit, I freely followed bricked walkways or boxwood hedges to lead me instead of reading the guide map. On the terrace wall overlooking the rose garden, image of my daughters bending over smelling the flowers overlapped the real blooms. Suddenly a faint familiar fragrance came into focus, I looked around and there it was, a large magnolia tree right above me with a big white blossom!
Sculpture constructed with natural branches

The birds chirped happily and butterflies fluttered between bushes. With a writing pad, I took my notes and even did sketches of a terrace layout. Like meeting an old friend in new outfit, I noticed that many familiar plants were cascading down brick walls or trimmed to espaliers. Benches and chairs invited me to sit down in the shade and gazebo as if a gracious hostess had thoughtfully arranged for me.  I felt so much at home with ease and content.

My next visit would be with my grownup daughters.  I will store their images then with garden arches and cascading wisterias.