Est. 1868 • Celebrating 150 years!
Est. 1868 • Celebrating 150 years!
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Here in the Nation’s Capital, we have hurtled past the summer solstice, honored our vets on Memorial Day, and are fast approaching America’s 250th birthday, also known as the semi quincentennial or, aka, “the Big Two-Five-Oh”. The crepe myrtle’s have bloomed a bit early all over town and, on top of all that excitement, we are in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave. Our air conditioners and capacity to stay hydrated are being challenged, but our Guests, like most Washingtonians brave enough to venture out, are up early and out and back before the mercury gets too high. We would be disingenuous if we said the weather was all bad (we are not in the heat of Texas or the floods of the mid-west after all) and especially in the morning hours the garden has plenty of shade, but we would agree it is bad enough.

Though our heat-stroke-level weather appears to have some staying power, we have a wonderful balm to the oppressive heat dome that has descended over Washington: The hydrangeas, all up and down the eastern seaboard, are having a banner year. Some gardeners claim the ornate gorgeous blue, pink and white blooms are a result of last April’s total eclipse of the sun, others say it is the lack of a May frost, and still others (perhaps a bit too isolated in their gardening activities) claim it was their perfect late fall, early spring pruning techniques. Despite their ancient roots in Japanese cultivation and the Greek derivation of their name –hydro for flower and angeion for the shape of an ancient pitcher–some refer to hydrangeas as “America’s Favorite Flower. In keeping with the Home’s Victorian-era founding, the hydrangeas have been planted in the garden for many years. In past years, after surviving drought, the building of new walkways, patio repair, massive new sewer pipe installations, and an occasional contractor trampling, they had episodes of being a bit worn and haggard.  But, not this year. This year they are alive and well and the blooms have been simply astounding. They serve splendidly, when the weather cooperates, to enjoin our Guests and Staff to partake in birthday celebrations and chats on the patio adjacent these once exotic imports now one of America’s backyard garden staples.