A Visit to Casa Mariposa – and an Allium Winner

After leaving our friends in Maryland, we drove over to Front Royal, Virginia, at the northern end of the Skyline Drive. On the way we stopped at the northern Virginia garden of our friend Tammy, author of the vastly entertaining garden blog Casa Mariposa.

Tammy warned that there wasn’t a lot of color in her garden at the time of our visit, as we were in that lull between late spring and early summer. However, we found no shortage of sights to enjoy.

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Here’s Tammy and myself in her front garden. I don’t know why I look so surprised. Note the birdhouse between me and Tammy. There are a lot of birdhouses at Casa Mariposa, as you’ll see.

Also note the pots on the front landing. Tammy has been collecting pots for a long time. She added the mosaic surface of the big one on the porch herself. Obtaining the ceramic pieces first involved buying some cheap used crockery.

Then, she advised her daughter to vent the anger resulting from a relationship breakup by smashing said crockery in the basement (wearing goggles – safety first). An outstanding example of effective parenting and affordable DIY. You can find out how to replicate it on her blog.

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Anyhow, the feature in Tammy’s back garden that grabbed our attention first is the dry stream bed. It was completed just this year. It’s quite beautiful but also a solution to an urgent drainage problem.

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Here’s a view from the opposite end. Tammy dug out the bed and placed the stones herself. When I pointed out that this seems like an awful lot of work, she displayed some impressive biceps.

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In addition to stone, the stream bed features plants like this Blue Eyed Grass. For more information on the dry stream beds, check out Casa Mariposa.

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Wildlife provides movement, color, and song in the back garden. The space is full of unique and colorful birdhouses.

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We watched a wren fly frenetically from one birdhouse to another, as if driven to distraction by the many choices.

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I am jealous of these custom-made iron plant hoops. Much more solid and attractive than the flimsy stuff at garden centers and hardware stores.

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While we sat chatting on the patio the thrush serenaded us with song.

Incidentally, Tammy has four dogs, one of whom you can see above. All of them were adopted from animal shelters and all of them have, shall we say, quirks. Tammy has a big heart.

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Along with the birdsong, we enjoyed watching several  butterflies, both Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Black Swallowtails. Appropriate, given the name of the garden. Judy managed to grab a photo of one on the wing.

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I was taken by the patches of Variegated Solomon’s Seal in the shadier parts of the back garden.

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Here’s a picture of the rear of the house taken from the back fence.

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A gnome being carried off by aliens.

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A gigantic Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) was in flower during our visit. The massive shrub was actually much younger than I expected.

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We have the same shrub at home and I really like the flowers. Actually, there were a lot more blooms at Casa Mariposa during our visit than this post would suggest – for example, some gorgeous Clematis and Trumpet Honeysuckle. I think we were too distracted by the stream bed and birdhouses to get pictures.

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We did get a picture of this giant Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) named Fred. There are some Asiatic lilies growing around and through the Bleeding Heart.

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And while Tammy laments her tendency to kill Tulips, there were some lovely ones like those in this pot.

Before leaving, Judy and I were fed a very tasty lunch, featuring homemade oatmeal-coconut-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. We drove off dreaming of birdhouses and a dry stream bed of our very own. After reading about Casa Mariposa for several years, it was delightful to see this garden in person, even more so with Tammy as our guide.

Judy’s Comment: It was so much fun to see Tammy and her garden! The internet is so virtual, a person could forget that all these places and people really exist. They do! I could not have imagined three and a half years ago when Jason started this blog that we would be making friends and visiting all over the place. What a delightful benefit from blogging. It was wonderful to see Casa Mariposa in person, and to see its creator, Tammy. (And those of you who are Facebook friends with her – all that baking she does – the cookies Jason mentions were seriously yummy!)

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And finally … the winner of the $50 Allium Gift Certificate from Longfield Gardens is … James Kennedy. James, please write to me at the email address on my About/Contact page (see link on the upper right of the home page) and give me your mailing address. Also, please get back to me by May 15th so I know you’re still interested. Congratulations!

64 Comments on “A Visit to Casa Mariposa – and an Allium Winner”

  1. Hello Jason, I love Tammy and her Casa Mariposa blog, her garden and her style are so craizy, wild, quirky, she’s full of ideas and inspiration that I can only hope to have. Her rain garden is something I hope to have in my garden because it drains so poorly. I’m glad you got to see her, her dogs and her garden.

  2. What a fun post and how nice to spend face-to-face time with a fellow gardener in her domain. That is one serious planter collector! Loved the horizontal gnome and I’m a sucker for dogs too, with all their quirks!

  3. Lovely tour of Tammy’s garden Jason, interesting to see another persons view, I think she is quite modest but is really creative and intuitive with her garden and love that you highlighted the wildlife creating movement, colour and song. Lovely post.

  4. Tammy’s garden and blog exudes personality. I have followed her blog for years, and I really enjoyed seeing it from your perspective. It was also fun to see the face attached to her blog, as wells yours. I have been able to meet a number of other bloggers and exchange garden visits, and it truly is one of the best benefits of blogging. If you are ever in Alabama, you are welcome to visit Deb’s Garden!

  5. Oh, what fun! I remember meeting Tammy at the Portland Fling, and she is as delightful in person as she seems in her blog. I half expected her to greet you in her pirate costume, though:) I’m pretty envious of that dry stream bed, too, and am so impressed with her installation of it.

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