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

visitor centerNow this is not my first visit to Norfolk Botanical Garden. We went there way back in 2013 in the summertime and I had every intention of blogging about it but just never got around to it. But that seemingly has worked out for the best because now I have so much more to write about (well, we will see) and so many more photos to share.

I took maybe 300 photographs and then had to delete maybe half of them because they were just too blurry to keep…..even for me. But that still leaves plenty to share……okay, I promise to keep it reasonable….reasonable for me…and it is all about me, right? Even still, I will find so much to gab about that I will probably need to do two separate blogs about the garden. This first will be about the garden itself and the second is planned to be more of a visual blog sharing the photos I took of the Lantern Asia display at the garden.

panoramaI first heard of the Norfolk Botanical Garden from Les Parks who writes a blog called A Tidewater Gardener about his experiences gardening at home in Norfolk and at his job as a professional gardener/landscaper at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. His blog was recommended to me by a great gardening friend some years ago and I have been a fan ever since. Long story short (so unusual for me), the blogs about and photographs of the garden at Norfolk were so vivid and descriptive and just plain lovely that I found that I wanted to see this garden for myself. So, of course, I planned a road trip and we were on our way.

lakeBefore I go any further, let me give you just a little bit of information about the garden itself. It consists of 175 acres with about 31 themed gardens and, whew, 12 miles of paved trails. (Now, don’t despair, while you can walk every inch of those trails, you do not have to. There is a tram that travels around and through the gardens daily allowing you to ride from one area to another without totally wearing yourself out.)

azalea canalOriginally, there was The Azalea Garden which was started in 1938 with a grant of about $76K from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At that time there were 275 acres that needed to be cleared and planted….and, from all accounts, it was a back-breaking job in the southern Virginia heat along the coast and in the wetlands (aka swamp). The work was completed by 200 African American women and 20 men working long days at $.25 an hour. Note the decimal, that’s a quarter an hour and not 25 dollars. The team planted more than 4000 azaleas, 2000 rhododendrons, and a few more thousand miscellaneous trees and shrubs. What an incredible undertaking!

azalea 2The size of the garden was reduced to its current 175 acres in 1971 when the airport next door expanded. Speaking of the airport, one of the fun things to do at the garden is take a boat ride into the tidal basin/lake that goes around the garden and right by the airport. Let me correct that, the airplanes flying into the airport fly right over the lake adding just a little extra zing to your boat tour. Now according to the guide on our boat back in 2013, there is a paved pathway that goes from a waiting area at the airport to the Botanical Garden. Prior to the days of high security at airports, a traveler who had tired of killing time between flights could just stroll over to the Botanical Garden for a peaceful afternoon among the azaleas and roses and still get back in time (maybe) to make that next flight. Of course, the world has changed and the old garden gate is secured and definitely off limits to passengers but the path is still there though no longer used.

airportAs noted, our first trip to the garden was in 2013 and in late summer. Although it was September, it was still very hot and humid. I recall that we took one look at the map of the gardens and, considering the season, opted to spend our time in the Butterfly Garden and the Rose Garden. We, as I mentioned above, took the boat ride which is a great addition to the garden tour. I also spent just a little time and more than a little money in the garden shop at the visitor center. We did ride the tram around the rest of the garden sections and I noted that we’d have to come back in the spring and see the azaleas in bloom. After all, the place started as an azalea garden and it wouldn’t make sense not to try to get there during the spring when the azaleas would be blooming.

rose gardenbridgeAnd so we came back. Our timing was not so great. The problem is that I wanted to see the rhododendrons in bloom too and anyone who lives around the area will tell you the azaleas come first and then the rhododendrons but they do not always bloom at the exact same time. So you have to try to time it…and then I had to fit things into our spring schedule at home. As it all worked out, we got there in time to catch the last of the azalea blooms but were too early for the rhododendrons to be in full bloom. However, that really doesn’t matter because the roses were blooming up a storm and the herb gardens were lovely and we got an extra treat – the Lantern Asia exhibition was still in the gardens – so there was plenty to see and enjoy.

butterfly garden 1.jpgbutterfly 2 2013And we did find many things to enjoy. We walked for miles (it seemed) – maybe not all 12 but enough. We focused on the areas where we saw azaleas blooming and roamed along the left side of the canal that runs down the middle of the complex.

Herb GardenWe spent time in the herb garden which I totally loved and hooked around by the Children’s Garden and up through the Lantern Asia displays.

shedchildrenOn our first visit in 2013, we were in the gardens maybe 2 hours but on the 2016 visit, we were there for a solid 5 hours – all walking this time because the tram only operates until 4PM each afternoon and we got there just a little too late at 5PM. And we didn’t get to the rhododendron glade (weren’t blooming much anyway) or the sunken garden (definitely a step down – just couldn’t resist that) and didn’t spend too much time in the rose garden (in the daylight hours).

madonnaSo, guess what? There’s plenty of reasons to think about a third visit to the garden in the future….but this time, I’m timing it for the tram…my poor ole feet were just too tired after walking all those miles to consider anything else.

fountain 1For more information about the Norfolk Botanical Garden, here’s the home link and a link to the history page. For a Youtube video about the Lantern Asia Tour and Botanical Garden link, try these.

collage framed