Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ideas for a Postage Stamp Yard

Where: Ripley Center

When: through January 31, 2016

Hooray - another trip to one of my favorite subterranean destinations!  The Ripley concourse, having finished playing host to the winners of the Smithsonian employee art contest, is now the home of a few garden tableaux designed especially for small spaces.

The display pictured is sitting on a settee, and all of the displays would fit comfortably on an apartment balcony or in a townhouse front yard.  You need not abandon your green thumb simply because you don't have a mansion-sized estate.  You just have to scale down your ambitions a bit.

Featured are a fairy garden (pictured above), several terrariums, green walls, stumperies (plants grown in tree stumps or logs) and dish gardens.  The trick with these is to group together plants that need the same amount of water and sunlight.  An obvious point, but one worth making before you spend a lot of effort to put things in a small plot that look lovely, but just can't live together.

This exhibit is put on by the Smithsonian Gardens, a vital part of the institution that I suspect is often overlooked by visitors.  They have a huge orchid collection (which is where the plants for the annual orchid display originate), many tropical plant specimens and a greenhouse full of nectar plants that are used to provide sustenance for the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum.  In addition to all this, they have a collection of over 1,700 garden furnishings, including items as old as the mid-1800s.

Verdict: If you have any interest in adding a bit of greenery to a small space, or are just a fan of gardening in general, this small display is worth a trip underground.

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