The Smithsonian Gardens and U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) are displaying their annualOrchid Exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, now thru May 14. The exhibition showcases over100 orchids selected from the collections of both Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S.B.G. The stunning blooms are presented as "colorful time-based installations, constantly changing throughout the exhibition’s four-month run. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the exotic assemblage as a whole as well as each orchid as it stands in that moment, and return again and again to enjoy the display as it evolves.”
Image below: Orchids displayed in the 2014 exhibition.
The U.S. Botanic Garden will exhibit You Can Grow It!in the Conservatory Terrace and East Gallery, February 18-October 15. The exhibit “will help experienced and novice gardeners alike have more fruitful indoor and outdoor gardening experiences. Wander the Terrace and the exhibit Gallery to explore the basics of growing plants and investigate solutions for many common plant problems. Along the way, discover foolproof plants, learn about the right plant for the right place and person, and even pick up a few specialty horticulture techniques for plants requiring a little extra care.” The exhibit is designed for all skill levels of gardening.
Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland will have their annual Orchid Show & Saleon Saturday & Sunday, March 18 & 19. Participants will have the opportunity to consult with orchid experts, enjoy the vibrant displays, and purchase orchids either to add to their collections or to get a collection started from top area growers. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Brookside Gardens and will take place in the Visitors Center Auditorium.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens will exhibit Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia, February 18-June 11. The exhibition will focus on 45 portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton and acquired by Hillwood in 2004. Middleton, his wife, and the six youngest of their ten children left Charleston, South Carolina in 1820 on a nearly two-month-long journey to Russia, where Henry would become Minister to Russia. The watercolor and gouache portraits on view in this exhibition were originally assembled in an album that documents the family’s time in St. Petersburg and the people they met through their diplomatic and social engagements. Objects, images, and publications were selected to complement the portraits and offer “an exploration into a number of themes, including the historical events surrounding his time there, the family’s social life in Russia, the artistic traditions of the period, and the elaborate fashions and hairstyles of the day.”
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is exhibiting Four Seasons, the first-ever installation of art in the gardens, thru March 31. Contemporary American artist & filmmaker Philip Haas’s sculptures create "a monumental interpretation of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s famous botanical paintings.” “Lush foliage, colorful blooms, and vegetation native to each of the seasons are spectacularly transformed into four larger than life, three-dimensional portrait busts.”
Images below: Views of Philip Haas’s "Four Seasons”
George Washington’s Mount Vernon recently acquired at auction a remarkable collection of five letters written by our first President to one of his chief allies in the American Revolution, the Chevalier de Chastellux. During Chastellux’s time in America he became a close friend to Washington and they maintained this friendship until Chastellux's death in 1788. The letters were written between 1783 and 1788 and reveal a rare personal side of Washington as he writes about marriage, the Constitution, his decision to step down from the presidency, and other topics. The Chastellux family kept the letters from Washington for more than 200 years. They are being displayed in rotationin the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center through February 22. In 1780-1782 Chastellux commissioned Charles Wilson Peale to paint a portrait of Washington commemorating the victory at Yorktown.
Image below: The last page of one of Washington’s letters, showing his signature.
Mount Vernon opened a new exhibition titled Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernonon October 1. The exhibition “shares the personal stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked at Mount Vernon and explores the first president’s evolving views on slavery.”
Image below: The Mount Vernon greenhouse, reconstructed between 1950 and 1953 based on Washington's original structure. The wings of the brick structure contained slave quarters. Photo by John Henley – Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.
Mount Vernon opened The Chintz Room, formerly known as the Nelly Custis Bedchamber, after two years of research and restoration work, on May 7. Mount Vernon senior vice president Carol B. Cadou has commented that “The careful research carried out by Historic Preservation and Collections staff is breathing new life into this space. This room will give visitors a real taste of the vibrancy of the late 18th century.” An original crib, given to Nelly Custis Lewis by Martha Washington in 1799, will be returned to the room.
Photo below: The Chintz Room – Photo by Rob Shenk – courtesy of The Mount Vernon Ladies Association.