Brookland’s Hidden Gardens, A Secret No More

One of the things that separates Brookland from other DC neighborhoods is the sheer amount of space surrounding the many lovely homes here. Many lots average around 1/5 acre or more, providing lots of space for kids of all ages to run free and enjoy being closer to nature. All that space lends itself to another purpose as well: there are many artists who live around here, using the land as their preferred palette to create amazing gardens full of flowering plants, lush shrubs, and shady trees.

brookland garden 1
When an old boxwood we had in the front was destroyed by Snowmaggedon, we ripped it up and replaced it with these double pink and double red Knock Out roses, a very low maintenance shrub. The blue flowers are catmint (Nepeta racemosa “Walker’s Low”).

Gardening is a tried and true Brookland pastime. Whether it’s a wild cottage garden cultivated for decades by one of the neighborhood’s senior gardeners, or the perfectly manicured gardens of the Franciscan Monastery, Brookland abounds with natural beauty that is sure to soothe the soul whether you till the soil yourself or simply enjoy the sights.

I’m one of the residents who chooses to till the soil. My partner and I bought a home with a good bit of land in Brookland almost three years ago. We both wanted to develop a shared hobby by learning how to garden from scratch, since neither of us knew practically anything about it. The yard was a wild mess of poison ivy, choking vines, out of control shrubs, and buried garbage. Three years later we’ve cleared away most of the ugliness and finished much of the front garden, but the whole thing will still take years to complete the transformation.

During this time I’ve drawn a huge amount of inspiration just from walking the streets of Brookland and seeing what other talented gardeners are doing. I wanted to get a sense for what grows well and what is native to the area, since we’re trying to plant low maintenance native plants whenever possible. The spring and early summer is an especially good time to take such walks, when the heat is not oppressive and most gardens are at their maximum bloom. The sights are simply incredible, and yet most people in DC and environs have no idea about the lovely gardens hidden in their midst.

As a budding gardener (pardon the pun) I intend to share what I’ve learned about gardening in Brookland from doing it myself and from wandering the neighborhood to see what others have done. I’ll also be sharing Brookland’s lushness through photography, highlighting some of the gorgeous landscapes that dedicated Brooklanders have created around their homes.

Brookland Development Panel Discussion This Friday

There will be a panel discussion and a question and answer session about the various development projects happening around Brookland. This is a rare opportunity to interact with the major players in Brookland’s future including:

  • The Bozzuto Group and ABDO Development (Catholic U Development/Monroe Street Market)
  • EYA (Chancellor’s Row)
  • The Menkiti Group (901 Monroe Street)
  • Carla Perlo, Founding Director of Dance Place (Moving Forward Campaign)

The event will be August 17, 6.30pm – 8:30 at  the 12th Street Gallery, 3500 12th Street NE, Washington DC 20017. For more information click here

Can’t make it? No worries! We will be there and will bring you coverage.

Brookland In Photos: The Sheds Of Brookland Part 1

One of the great things about Brookland is our ample, lush backyards. In addition to the vegetation, I  just love the unique, colorful sheds found in our neighbor’s yards. So, I decided to start a photo series of them – let’s see how many great ones I can find. If you know of any – by all means let me know. I have passed the pair of sheds below a million times as I have walked the stretch of 12th st between Jackson and Kearney. Admiring  them as I walk transports me momentarily to a country road.

FoRIA To Give Langdon Elementary School A Face-Lift

The Friends of Rhode Island Avenue (FoRIA) are seeking volunteers to help beautify Langdon Elementary School (located at 1900 Evarts Street NE, south of RIA). Help get the school ready for the new school year by landscaping, trash pick-up, light painting, planting flowers, setting up classrooms, creating leveled book rooms, etc. DCPS will provide the supplies, water and a t-shirt. RSVP for this event here.

More RIA Development?

The City Paper and the Rhode Island Avenue NE Insider are reporting that Douglas Development maybe preparing to develop the rather dilapidated warehouse properties they own just off Rhode Island Avenue along the Metro.

Photo Credit: City Paper

 If I remember correctly, the first I heard of this development was via some chatter on the Brookland Yahoo! listserv in May and June. I believe this development was also discussed at an ANC 5B04 meeting recently. The photo to the left was taken from the City Paper article. While I am certainly not against transforming blighted buildings into housing, I am not exactly enthusiastic about this development yet.

First, why apartments? Between the recently completed Rhode Island Row development and the recently approved 901 Monroe development, it seems like our corner of the city is getting a lot of new apartment space as opposed to condominiums, rowhouses and single family homes. Secondly, it appears that the plan calls for an awful lot of flat parking lot and really no green space to speak of. The City Paper article indicates that Douglas is in the very early stages of planning, so there should be time for the community to address these issues.

Community Tree Care Event On The MBT

The Rails to Trails Conservancy is hosting a Community Tree Care Event this Saturday, August 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the Met Branch Trail (MBT). Last spring Casey Trees and Rails-to-Trails planted several trees along the Trail. They are now asking for volunteers to help weed and water those trees. Meet the group at the S Street Entrance of the MBT. A few things to note:

  • Lunch will be provided but they ask that you bring your own water bottle.
  • Each volunteer must turn in a signed Volunteer Waiver Form. You can complete one in advance or on-site. Those under 18 years of age must turn in a Volunteer Waiver form signed by their parent or legal guardian, and be supervised at all times.
  • Dress comfortably and for the weather. Closed-toe shoes are required. Casey Trees will provide safety gloves and vests.
  • They will meet rain or shine!

In addition, attendees will also learn basic tree care information that they can apply to their own backyard. As we all know, this summer has been a scorcher, please help ensure all the trees in the greater Brookland area continue to thrive by watering those thirsty trees!

To register for the event or for more information, contact Juliana Villabona at juliana@railstotrails.org or202.974.5129

Councilmember McDuffie Meets With Ward 5 Residents

Ward 5’s recently elected Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is keeping a campaign pledge to meet regularly with community citizens.  He’s doing that by scheduling regular “office hours” at various locations throughout Ward 5 to meet with anyone who wants to chat with him.

He came to Brookland’s Turkey Thicket Recreation Center on August 2nd, so he probably won’t be back until the next round. However, if you want to see him there are additional scheduled hours at the following locations:

Monday, August 6
6:30pm – 8:30pm Community Academy Public Charter Schools (CAPCS), 1400 First Street, NW

Wednesday, August 8
2:30pm – 4:30pm Theodore Hagan Cultural Center Multi-Purpose Center, 3201 Fort Lincoln Drive, NE

Tuesday, August 28
6:30pm – 8:30pmIsrael Baptist Church – Lower Level, 1251 Saratoga Avenue, NE