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Orchids in the greenhouse

Gardens

Explore 13 acres of fall gardens in bloom.

What's in Bloom

Set on twenty-five acres adjacent to Rock Creek Park, Hillwood’s gardens feature a diverse and fascinating array of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, offering something to see in every season. 

Plants to note in the gardens:

  • It is hydrangea season and cultivars of bigleaf (H. macrophylla), smooth (H. arborescens) and oakleaf (H. quercifolia) hydrangeas can be found blooming throughout the property. The bigleaf can be seen in two flower forms, ball-shaped clusters referred to as “mop-heads” and flat clusters with small flowers ringed with larger flowers called “lacecaps”. The color of many bigleaf hydrangeas is influenced by the pH of the soil. Soil at Hillwood is slightly acidic leading to beautiful blue and purple flowers.
  • It is also lily season in the cutting garden. Stands of upright plants with beautiful large trumpet flowers poke up through the rows. One particularly nice hybrid is Lilium ‘Fusion’ standing at over five-feet tall. The straight stem branches off producing a canopy of blooms with speckled yellow centers and petal tips of red. Fusion has unique parentage as it is a cross between Lilium longiflorum, the trumpet or Easter lily native to Japan and Taiwan, and Lillium pardalinum, the leopard lily native to the U.S. west coast.
  • There are still a few late-blooming azaleas putting on a show. Satsuki azaleas are the last to bloom in the gardens. Hybridized in Japan for at least five hundred years, they are thought to be a naturally occurring variety between two rhododendrons native to Japan. The Satsuki azaleas at Hillwod are low growing evergreen shrubs with a rounded form which become full of pink or white flowers. Their natural shape and habit along with their beautiful blooms have made Satsukis popular for bonsai. 

Highlights in the greenhouse:

  • Though there are quite a few orchids in bloom, a standout is the leopard orchid (Ansellia africana) just inside the door of the orchid east house. This large specimen has multiple flower spikes that are several feet tall. Each spike is then full of stunning flowers with a bright yellow lip and yellow petals and sepals spotted with maroon. The leopard orchid is native to a large part of Africa where it often lives as an epiphyte in the canopy of tall trees.
  • Be sure to check out the slipper orchids in the orchid west house. Slipper orchids get their common name from the modified shape of their lips which looks like little shoes. A very nice example is Phragmipedium Geralda ‘Orchidheights’. The overall yellowish hue of the flower is accented with pink striping on its long wavy petals making a lovely presentation. The bloom also sports a very tall striped dorsal sepal and spots on a large prominent pouch. 
  • The moth orchid collection (Phalaenopsis) will just not quit. Among the arching flowers at the entrance to the tropical house is Phalaenopsis Green Angel. The flower spike is full of large sturdy white blooms that are several inches across. Other cultivars are found throughout the houses sporting stripes, spots or mottled markings which make them popular among home growers along with their ease of care. Moth orchids are native from southern Asia to northeastern Australia. 
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Hydrangea macrophylla with a lovely blue mop-head

Hydrangea macrophylla with a lovely blue mop-head

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Spectacular flowers on Lilium ‘Fusion’ in the cutting garden

Spectacular flowers on Lilium ‘Fusion’ in the cutting garden

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Satsuki azaleas are our last azalea flowers of the year

Satsuki azaleas are our last azalea flowers of the year.

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Ansellia africana full of blooms

Ansellia africana full of blooms

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Unique flowers of Phragmipedium Geralda ‘Orchidheights’

Unique flowers of Phragmipedium Geralda ‘Orchidheights’

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Phalaenopsis Green Angel is just one of many moth orchids in bloom.

Phalaenopsis Green Angel is just one of many moth orchids in bloom.