Washington Oaks Gardens

Its time for another trip to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park!  I scored some great buys at the Second Saturday plant sale, got attacked by mosquitoes, took some pictures, and explored the rocky tidepools at the beach.

Actually, we only stayed for a couple of hours, but we've been here a hundred times so far and it was high tide, meaning no sea glass to be found.  There were, however, plenty lush plants in the garden.

My favorite part of the park is under the big oak trees by the intracoastal waterway, because if you peer into the canopy you'll find many epiphytes in the branches, many at the northern end of their range.  Large butterfly orchids (encyclia tampensis) cling tightly with seedpods dangling in the breeze, right next to tillandsia utriculata and tillandsia fasciculata.  All three of these plants are much more common further south, but are a pleasant surprise in zone 9a.  Maybe its the microclimate afforded by the proximity to the intracoastal waterway, but it does give me courage to eventually try them outdoors in my own garden.  There's even a large prickly pear cactus growing epiphytically in the branches with no soil!

The Orange Birds of Paradise were in full bloom, showing no indication of the record breaking winter.  Maybe some day I'll grow my own someday, but I prefer the bold foliage of the white bird of paradise, pictured below.

I remember how disappointed I was when they hacked this back to a huge stump last year.  Now its lusher than ever with a nice and rounded form.  I guess they know what they're doing after all!

I love how my cell phone camera creates glare!  Bad camera + photoshop = neat effect.

This is one of the massive staghorn ferns in the park, and to my knowledge they all stayed outdoors. 

Last post I asked about ficus trees in zone 9, and here's one of them.  The ficus decora did get knocked back, but it looks pretty healthy now!

Isn't this a great bromeliad planting?  This is neoregelia spectabilis, the cold hardiest neoregelia I know of.  In the background, lushly planted mondo grass sways in the wind before a fallen oak trunk, looking like driftwood in an emerald sea.  The limited plant pallette makes for a dramatic effect, drawing your attention to the magical environment rather than to individual plants.

At about this point in our walk, we were feeding half the park's mosquito population, and it was beginning to get warm.  I went to the plant sale while my cursing fiance went to the mosquito free car.  Next post I'll share what I bought, as well as some photos of their amazing beach!


  1. What a great garden. No wonder you like going there.

  2. Wow...what a remarkable place. I've never seen the white BOP before, I understand why you prefer their foliage if that picture is any indication of the norm! I can't wait to see what you bought...

  3. Nice huge brom area, eh??? Pretty cool! I love the white BOP also...my neighbors have them and they are soooo impressive!! Beaufiful beach rocks!!! Hurry up and show us your new plants, OK??? :)

  4. Looking at the photos of this garden here, I really felt that it's a garden somewhere near me! Those plants are plants that we normally see here in our surroudings ;-)

  5. That is a great garden. The beach scene is really nice too.


  6. What a nice park. Having a beach with tidepools and sea glass is extra icing. Can't wait to see your purchases.

  7. very nice tour steve, thanks for taking us there


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