Strolling Through the Gardens at Ladew

wide view gardenA couple weeks ago, we visited Ladew Topiary Gardens near Monkton, Maryland. I told you of our visit with an initial blog on June 8th in which I wrote all about Harvey S. Ladew, the creator of this beautiful garden…or gardens, should I say. But I stuck mostly to Mr. Ladew and the manor in that initial blog. If you’d like to go back and review, the link is here.

I promised that I would share some photos of the actual gardens…or, as much of them as I saw on this visit. I did not quite walk all 22 acres of gardens. I know I missed the “Garden of Eden” which I hear has statues of Adam and Eve and I also missed the Nature Walk…but that just leaves more to see on our next visit.

So I am now providing those photos…or, at least some of them since you will understand that I took more than two hundred photographs and, even though I had plenty of blurry shots to delete, I still have quite a few to share….but I won’t share all of them….just a goodly bunch. (Now, is that a proper phrase? Yikes! Mrs. Mintz back in eighth grade would look at me knowingly, shake her head in exasperation, and pull out the old red pen and start scritching away at my work….that is, if she were here now to read any of it. On the up side, some of what she tried to teach me did, in fact, sink in and I continue to write….unlike the stuff Mrs. Doehla tried to teach me in those Algebra classes a few years later which, like everyone else, I’m not sure I would know how to use even if I wanted to use it.)

So, without further ado, here are the photos of the gardens.


We started our tour at the Café…..because it is about the food, you know…..where we enjoyed chicken salad sandwiches and cold lemonade on the patio. Since it was a rather warm day and most folks opted to eat inside, we had the patio all to ourselves…and that was just lovely as far as we were concerned. You couldn’t have asked for a prettier day.

water wall

There is just something about garden walls with mosses and ferns growing in the mortar cracks…

path to cutting garden

Next we meandered down the garden path to the cutting garden where there were roses galore and loads of peonies.

cutting garden

pink white peony

pink peony2 pink peonies

Next we headed down to the Butterfly House….we knew it wasn’t open yet for the year…but the wildflower meadow looked lovely and invited exploration. I particularly liked the yard art in the meadow. Well, I suppose the artist wouldn’t call it yard art..he’d probably be snobbish and drop the “yard” but it is what it is – art for the yard…yard art…or in this case “meadow art”.

yard art 3

yard art

yard art 2Then again, it seems the artist had another…and much better name for the art he added to the gardens.

seeds steeds

The “beautiful weeds” part would work for my flower beds at home….well, the “weeds” part anyway.

tally hoThen there were the topiaries…hence the name….Ladew Topiary Gardens.

window wallI suppose I expected lots of little hedges trimmed to look like little creatures like the foxhunt scene above. I wasn’t really expecting walls and windows and garlands carved into the yew hedges…not to mention all sorts of geometric shapes of all sizes from very small to very very large. It was impressive to say the least.

wall and pond

topiary on the side


View through the topiary window to the wildflower garden.

window view

We spent quite a bit of time in the Iris Garden. This time of year the Iris’s were blooming so it made sense that we would gravitate there….especially since it sort of went down hill from the main topiary gardens on the east side of the manor. I do downhill quite well….the uphill part was not so easy.

iris garden

iris 2iris 3iris 1benchWe spent a lot of time trying out the benches in the shade in the Iris Garden…and why not? They were lichen covered and lovely in their own right.

jap mapleAt the bottom of the Iris Garden, you can peek through the arbors and see a topiary ship setting sail into the wildflower meadow. Nice!

ship topiary

Our last stop on our tour was the walled rose garden. What can I say? The roses were plentiful and in full bloom. I love roses climbing on brick walls. It reminds me of cottage gardens and lovely old estates. Throw in a few cherubs (and maybe an imp of a satyr) and a pond with a frog or two and you’ve got paradise in a garden as far as I’m concerned. The smell of all those roses was heavenly, by the way.

satyrrose gardenrose garden 2frog

If you would like to visit Ladew Manor and Topiary Gardens, the address is 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD 21111. The website is

Norfolk Botanical Garden – Lantern Asia

entranceAs promised in my last blog, I’m sharing photos of the Lantern Asia exhibit that was at the Norfolk Botanical Garden this spring. When we decided to visit the Garden back in April, we had not realized that the event was continuing through the end of April and that we would be able to see it. It was a pleasant surprise but changed our plans somewhat. Our original plans were to spend some time in the azalea and rhododendron gardens in the morning, go into Norfolk for lunch, come back for an afternoon checking out the rose garden and maybe strolling around by the butterfly house. Just spend a lovely day in some beautiful gardens.

But the Lantern Asia display would be best viewed at night…so we opted to visit later in the afternoon arriving about 5PM and staying until after dark leaving about 9PM. It worked out for the most part except that we were roaming around the gardens during daylight and ended up walking through the Asia Lantern display a bit backwards coming up to the main entrance last rather than first. It worked out though. We took a short snack break in the parking lot and then walked it all over again – front to back this time.  As a result, I have photos of some displays in sunlight and in darkness…..and I have a bunch so this blog will be mostly about the photos…but I promise that I won’t share all 200 or so photos that I took.

But, first, a little background – well, as much as I got at the time. I thought I’d be clever and just post a link from the Norfolk website once I got around to doing the blog that would explain everything. But, teaching me to be lazy about getting the blog done, the Botanical Garden took down the webpage and moved on to the next event in the gardens….so I have only a scant bit of information to give you and no link to point you to more information. I’ll just share what I know as I go.

So, LanternAsia finds its origins in Lantern Festivals that have been held in China (or were held) in the past 2000 years. The exhibit at Norfolk was a bit of a traveling roadshow of the Lantern Festival that has been to several major cities in the world thus far and will travel to several more before it’s all packed and moved back to China. At Norfolk, it took more than 20 people working for more than a month to put it all together and included about 30 illuminated displays stretching out over about a mile inside the garden. Most of the displays were made with steel and silk and illuminated from within. It really didn’t matter whether you saw the displays in bright sunshine or dark night, they were all quite beautiful.

The photo above is the entrance gate….guarded by two fierce lions…one of which is below.entrance lion

Several of the walkways along the display “trail” were lighted overhead which made for a bit of magic along the way as you strolled through the exhibit.



This is the side gate providing access from the overflow parking lot…daytime and nighttime. It looks like an ornate wedding ring.

Side Gate day and night


This display put me in mind of the movie, Finding Nemo, and the scene with the krill escaping from the whale while calling out, “Run away, run away”.


alley of flowers

This beautiful set of arches was in the rose garden.

rose arbor

And, you gotta have a peacock or two, right?


mount fuji


This is a replica of the Taj Mahal. It was very popular…almost impossible to get a photo without a crowd of people standing in the way.


A Merlion standing (swimming?) in a bright blue ocean.

Korean Drum Dance

An homage to the Korean Drum Dance. I think I liked this one better in daylight hours.


There was a whole section that seemed to be dedicated to children with pandas and bumblebees and all sorts of forest creatures. They were way back in the back way past the butterfly garden. We saw them in the daytime while we toured the garden and opted not to go back to see them in the dark. I’m sure the illuminated displays would have been lovely….but, by this time, my feet were horses 1

As I mentioned, most of the displays were made of silk but these creatures – not quite dragons but, then again, too beastly for horses – were made of small glass bottles filled with liquids of different colors placed together in a beautiful mosaic. They were impressive in daylight but really came to life in the darkness.
glass horses 2

The field of flamingos was one display that I thought looked better in the daylight. The details in the color and feathers were lost once the lights went on inside.


Tribute to Asian fans….with more peacocks.


This is the entrance road which was lit with displays pretty much all the way from the garden entrance to the visitor center. The butterflies lining the road were lovely but became pure magic at night.

entry butterflies

The elephants (and lions and tigers) were quite popular with the kids.


This palace was beautiful and made entirely of porcelain china…..I overheard someone say that more than 1 million pieces of dinnerware were used. Remarkable.

china castle

But what Asian display would be complete without dragons? And a mighty dragon he was…..fierce and beautiful.

dragondragon head

The details throughout the exhibit were exquisite. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. When I first heard about the exhibit, I have to admit that I thought it would be a bit crass and tacky. But I stand corrected, this display was amazing and beautiful. Per my understanding, the exhibit has moved on to another city in a foreign land. I’m glad we got an opportunity to see and enjoy it while it was in the US.

long dragon