Not to be Missed | What’s Up Magazine

Notable Gardens for Autumnal Inspiration

Not to be Missed

Sep 20, 2018 12:00AM ● Published by Brian Saucedo

By Janice F. Booth

Summer is slipping into the golden days of autumn. For some of us, our gardens have given us their best, and now we’re trying to refresh our flowerbeds with pots of bright, fall annuals and careful pruning of tired plants.

Within a few hours’ drive are some of the most renowned and inspiring public gardens on the East Coast. This may be the perfect time to plan a few day-trips with gardening friends or family. Pack a picnic and grab a blanket; set your GPS for one of the lovely gardens that surround us. Be sure you have a notepad with you so you can jot down names of the flowers and shrubs that you’ll find coming into their grandeur this autumn.

I’ve chosen eight gardens to highlight; that should take you well into November. But full disclosure: There are many more lovely, unique gardens. You can easily expand your own list of favorites Starting with our nation’s capital, there are three unique gardens: The National Botanical Gardens, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and the Hillwood Estate Gardens. You could make each garden a day’s adventure, or wander through all three in one, long and memorable day.

◼ The United States Botanic Garden, like the National Arboretum, was established and continues to be funded and managed by the Federal Government. A botanical garden collects, cultivates, and exhibits plant species from regional and exotic locations, something like a living library for horticulturalists. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Madison were amateur botanists and ran successful farms. They encouraged the establishment of a national botanical garden, and by 1820 the project was underway. These three Founding Fathers understood the importance of agriculture and the propagation of plants, both native and imported, that could feed a growing nation.

And that’s where we come in. A fall visit to the site’s Botanical Gardens gives you a great starting point for planning any changes or additions to your own garden in the coming year. Admission is free, and the Botanical Gardens is located just below The Capitol on First Street, SW. Wander through the Garden Court, the Tropics, Plant Adaptations, Garden Primeval, Hawaii, World Deserts, Medicinal Plants, Orchids, Mediterranean, Rare and Endangered Species, Southern Exposure, and the Children’s Garden taking photos and notes of any handsome herb, flower, or shrub that might enliven your own garden (

◼ Our second stop, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, located in SE Washington, is part of the National Park system. Okay, you may not be prepared to dig up part of your garden to add a lily pond, but it’s fun wandering among the ponds in this 30-acre wetlands. The magnificent lily pads and lotus blossoms may still be blooming in the fall. But even if they’re finished for the year, there are lovely trees, shrubs, cattails, and wild rice bordering the pools. As you walk the trails, you’ll see herons, egrets, geese, frogs, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the resident beaver family (

◼ Our third garden in the District of Columbia, Hillwood Gardens, was the creation of the possessor of one of the largest fortunes of the 20th Century, Marjorie Merriweather Post. When she rebuilt her estate in northwest Washington in the 1950s, Post wanted the gardens of Hillwood to peak in the spring and again in the fall, when she spent time at this residence. The thirteen acres of formal gardens will be in their autumnal glory, just as they would have been when their mistress enjoyed the gardens with her guests. The French Parterre and the Japanese-style garden are charming. And don’t miss the Russian-style dacha decorated with intricate wood-carvings and bright colors; you’ll find it nestled in the woodland garden ( If you have the time and inclination, include the mansion during your visit. The collections of Faberge eggs and antique furnishings will delight connoisseurs.

Another region rich in magnificent public gardens is the Brandywine Valley of southeast Pennsylvania. You may have heard of the Longwood and Winterthur Gardens, perhaps you’ve visited there. Like Hillwood, these gardens were lavishly designed and maintained. There are conservatories and woodland paths, Formal, Italianate gardens with elegant fountains and pergolas.

While both Longwood and Winterthur are recognized for their extensive gardens, each around 1000 acres, Longwood Garden’s draw is the botany while Winterthur’s H. F. DuPont mansion, now a museum, is its primary attraction.

The magnificent woodland portion of Longwood’s Garden is not to be missed. Early in the 20th century, Pierre S. Du Pont bought the property to save the trees from logging. You can wander through the seven acres of woods, along paths that take you among old-growth trees dating back, in some cases, to the 1700s. Autumn is a grand time to enjoy the trees’ splendid transformations.

While you’re at Longwood, you may hear the chiming bells of the Carillon. Make your way to the Bell Tower and winding paths of the Hillside Garden. There are lots of places to rest and watch the waterfall tumble past the bell tower and into the pool below (

◼ Winterthur Museum and Gardens is only a few miles away in the Delaware portion of the lovely Brandywine Valley. Sixty of the properties nearly 1,000 acres are designed gardens. Though smaller and less grand than Longwood’s, the advantage of Winterthur’s gardens is the tram tour led by a knowledgeable guide that will take you through the woodlands and gardens. If walking is a problem, this is the garden for you.

The woodlands at Winterthur are breathtaking. While the trees are not rare or ancient, the variety and the forest-floor plantings are beautiful in spring and fall. In fact, Winterthur notes that the fall color show begins in early September and continues through early November (

◼ Traveling east from the Brandywine Valley, you approach the Philadelphia region known as the “Main Line,” where families of great fortunes built expansive estates with elegant gardens. One I particularly recommend is Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pennsylvania. While it’s only 48 acres, the 14 full-time gardeners keep the gardens in perfect condition. There are woodlands and meadows, a teacup garden, an Asian garden, and more. The ease of access, with a pretty and convenient parking area, and well-groomed paths and trails, makes it easy to wander without fear of missing something or getting lost. The gardens include little signs identifying plants and trees of particular interest, and there always seems to be a gardener nearby when you have a question.

Now, that’s six. We have two more intriguing gardens to go…

If you don’t mind the traffic around Philadelphia, you’re in for a treat. Visit the 45-acre, National Landmark, Bertram Gardens; there’s no admission fee. The gardens are named for 18th century Quaker botanist John Bertram. Bertram developed a successful, international plant trading and nursery business that supported three generations of Bertrams. In 1850, the business floundered, and the property passed through several hands, finally preserved by Philadelphians and descendants of the Bertram family. Today the garden’s specialty is the propagation of native plants and those discovered by the early Bertram horticulturalists. There’s a fascinating section on medicinal plants focusing on the plants from John Bertram’s 1750 treatise on the subject, published by Benjamin Franklin.

You can check out the garden’s website for the dates of their renowned plant sale; I suspect there will be medicinal plants for sale (

The last of our Pennsylvania gardens, also with free admission, is the Jenkins Arboretum in Devon, Pennsylvania. A relative newcomer among the public gardens; it’s 46 acres were established as a public garden and arboretum as a memorial to Elizabeth Phillippe Jenkins in 1965. With little over a mile of trails, Jenkins Arboretum is an easy stroll through the woodland area and bog garden. Peek in at the education building and check out some of the Jenkins’ eco-projects. Each year the garden features one or two native plant species to encourage the cultivation and preservation of indigenous plants. Autumn is a good time to visit and enjoy the vistas of valley and streams surrounding the arboretum while you’re there (

The pleasures of your garden travels will, I hope, be varied and memorable. You may not be ready to install a lotus pond or medicinal plants flowerbed, but you may return to your own garden with renewed enthusiasm for the joys and challenges of your bit of Eden.

Source: Not to be Missed | What’s Up Magazine

Posted in Uncategorized

Here’s my September feature article  on an unfortunately timely subject.  Protecting Children from the Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing | What’s Up Magazine

Educating ourselves and our children about pedophiles

Source: Protecting Children from the Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing | What’s Up Magazine

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Teresa

Last evening I participated in a memorial walk to honor five, locaDebra_B- Main St march 6-29-18l journalists who had been killed the previous day by an angry man with a shotgun. The senseless violence and inexplicable grief of which I’d read in countless articles, had now come to my town, to me and my friends.

We stood – perhaps 1,000 people, silent, dumbfounded by the helplessness and fear that washed over us.

The beautiful summer’s evening with a butter-yellow moon bathing us in its golden light contrasted with the tears and hollow stares of mourners, young and old, from all walks of life, and varied ethnic backgrounds. Leaders from city government and religious organizations offered their thoughts. A slip-of-a-girl in her tartan kilt played “Amazing Grace” on her bagpipes; candles flickered in the warm breeze. Our mayor, Gavin Buckley spoke to the gathered mourners, “The senseless killings are not us; this is us.”

But, I couldn’t help thinking, “No, the killings and violence, as well as the empathy and regret are us. We are the man with the weapons aiming down into a crowd of concert-goers. We are the adolescent boys in long trench coats with guns as big as they are, shooting children cowering in corners. And we are the teachers shielding our students with our own bodies.”

Michael Jackson sang in my head, “I want you to know / I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways / If you want to make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself, and then make a change…

What am I doing with my candle and tears? Am I protecting the children, making sure they are safe, so they need not fear the opening of their classroom door, or the bang of a chair falling in the hallway? Am I speaking out for the young people whose lives are over and those left behind to grieve for them?

I see myself mirrored in the gray-haired men and women shuffling along with me. We carry signs, candles, heavy hearts. What are we thinking? I remember the marches against the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights actions, bus rides and sit-ins and National Guardsmen arrayed against college students in bellbottoms, and Guardian Angels in red berets.

What has changed in my country, besides my graying hair? Have I spent 30 years in high school classrooms, teaching young people to recognize Macbeth’s all-consuming will to power, asking students to feel the gut-wrenching fear as Elie Wiesel, a small boy, marches to the concentration camp. What did my young journalists learn as we put together stories of high school proms and science projects? Do they fight today to protect the Fourth Estate?

Did I teach my students to recognize the fragility of all we hold dear – life itself, freedom from fear of intimidation, the rights to vote and to receive an education? Did I teach them to appreciate the sacrifices made by their forbearers?

What has my country come to after 50 years? Have I failed to make a difference? Could I have done more to insure that my students would mature into wise men and women capable of identifying truth from falsehood, integrity from duplicity, courage from intimidation?

I looked around me as we walked silently down Main Street. Young parents with small children in strollers, teens holding hands and leaning into one another for comfort. What will they do to protect and defend this nation? Do they weep and then return to their busy lives?

How ironic that we are preparing to celebrate Independence Day and all the immigrants who came here, to Maryland and beyond, to build a new and better life for themselves and their children. We celebrate the Constitution, “with liberty and justice for all,” but is there less justice? Are our liberties being eroded?

Those five, murdered journalists gave their lives writing for the Capital Gazette newspaper that traces its founding to 1727.  Will we protect the free press, the franchise, the immigrant?

My candle sputtered. The wax burned my skin, and that slight discomfort stirred me. I recalled Mother Teresa’s wise counsel, “Not all of us do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I will go on marching, signing petitions, making phone calls, and teaching, I hope, by example. I will make what small difference  can in this dark time.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

– Mother Teresa

Photo: Debra Book Barrows


Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Little Rascals: Pets and Pests in Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

There are 115,000 dogs and cats in Anne Arundel County, and more than a million in Maryland, according to the American Veterinary Association estimates.

Source: Little Rascals: Pets and Pests in Your Garden | What’s Up Magazine

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life’s Small Dramas Continue

The first four weeks of our osprey’s return to paradise has been quite eventful…

Oscar and Opal, as you may recall, returned to the Naval Academy in mid-March.  Other than chilly weather, all seemed to be well… at first.  About five days into their summer sojourn, another osprey arrived.  He was less muscular than either Oscar or Opal.  He hung around on adjacent light posts, buzzed the family nest, and just made himself a nuisance.

See the source imageOne morning, Oscar seemed to be fighting with the new guy in town.  They flew around each other making arcs and circles.  The new guy would perch, and Oscar would fly down as if to knock him off his perch.

I began to worry that this new osprey might be a serious contender for primacy.  After all, Oscar is getting pretty old. On average, osprey live to be 20 or 25.  They don’t mate and begin breeding until they’re three.  So, if I have watched Oscar and Opal nest for 17 years, maybe he’s near the end of his life.  Was I watching Oscar being displaced?

One cold morning, I saw Opal but not Oscar. And, I didn’t see the younger male either!  I thought, “Oh, goodness.  Oscar’s been chased off. He’s flown away or fallen into the Bay. Opal will starve, and that young osprey will take over the football field!”

As I finish my walk,  I pass a lovely garden in which a large pond brims with plump goldfish. That morning, my heart heavy with concern for Oscar and Opal, suddenly, See the source imageoverhead, I heard the distinctive cheep-cheep call of the osprey – vocal sonar, perhaps.  I looked up just in time to see my old friend Oscar rising out of the walled garden, a large, gleaming goldfish in his talons.  “Go, Oscar.”  He headed straight for the Academy and home.

A few days later, I saw the young osprey perched on a light post over the soccer field.  (You may recall a few years ago when Pablo and Pearl nested over the soccer field, until their nest was disturbed by the replacement of the lighting system.)

Over the next few days, the new guy, since named Raul seemed to get comfy in his new territory.  He began a feeble attempt at nesting, carrying up twigs and branches to weave into his new home.  And then, to my delight and his too, I suspect, Ruby came to town.  Since her arrival in early April, Raul has steered clear of the football field where Oscar and Opal live in decorous splendor.

Raul’s nesting skills haven’t improved.  What’s passing for his nest looks more like a giant pin cushion or a poorly moussed punk hairdo.  But, Ruby seems content.  Like Opal, she’s a fairly regal gal.  She sits majestically on her light post, high above the boats and cars and runners below.  Raul races around trying to impress her with this twig or that fish catch.  We’ll see how this goes.

And Oscar has been, it seems to me, setting me straight on his prowess as top-bird at the Academy.  For three mornings in a row, as I approached the football field, Oscar has come flying down over my head – each morning with a large fish!  The fish, wriggling in his talons, has been as big as his own body.  I’ve watched him fly around-and-around the field, waiting for the fish to stop struggling.  I think he’s saying, “Don’t count me out yet, old girl!”    See the source imageAnd I certainly will not.

Posted in Life Lessons, Nature, Uncategorized | 4 Comments