Franciscan Monastery—2017 Garden Bloggers Fling

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, DC was an interesting destination on this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling.

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

The Neo-Byzantine style church was built between 1898-1899.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

At right of the church sits the Rosary Portico.

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

Our group arrived just after lunch. I had  been curious to see this site, described as an oasis of peace, with over 1000 roses, and enhanced by many perennials and annuals.

On this hot summer day the strongest color came from annuals such as begonias and lantana. 

Begonias and Lantana

As in many gardens on this year’s Fling, daylilies played an important role as well.  I enjoyed the way the coloring in this grouping reflected the exterior of the Rosary Portico, echoing the terra-cotta roof tiles.

Exterior – Rosary Portico

I quickly wound my way out of the sun, passing along the Rosary Portico. Pausing to explore the architecture of the columns, I felt the temperatures moderate under the vaulted ceiling.

Interior – Rosary Portico

Interior – Rosary Portico with varying styled columns

Eventually an open gate revealed an expansive panorama. Steep stairs led to gardens below.

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

Graceful magnolias towered over the shady lower gardens.

Lower Gardens – Franciscan Monastery

I read up on this monastery after returning home. Franciscans have been tasked with caring for holy Christian sites for 800 years. Envisioned as a holy land for America, a number of shrines are represented here with accurately-scaled replicas.

Though intended to be welcoming and inclusive to all, the very nature and purpose of this place, the reason for existence is a religious one, and I felt a bit of an interloper into this spiritual setting.

In looking through the photographs I took that day, I have been surprised by my reaction but I want to be honest. In considering the plants and garden design I never sensed a real “Oh, wow!” moment during my visit. Without intending disrespect, I confess, aesthetically, the garden and statuary were simply not to my taste. The tombs were rather eerie and the manmade stone I found particularly off-putting.

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

Lourdes Grotto, Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

Franciscan Monastery-Washington, DC

I am glad to have had the chance to explore this place, and am looking forward to seeing what aspects other Fling visitors responded to in this setting.

Normally drawn to quiet, meditative spaces, I had eagerly anticipated seeing the monastery’s contemplative grounds; however, in the end I never felt a strong connection with this garden.

12 thoughts on “Franciscan Monastery—2017 Garden Bloggers Fling

  1. Kris P

    I had a similar reaction to the monastery’s planting scheme, Susie, but I think your photos capture the serenity of the place well.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Kris. I took over 1500 photos and it’s been fun, but a lot of work, to sift through them all and choose ones to represent each garden.

  2. casa mariposa

    I included the monastery because it is an off the grid garden spot that gave the bloggers an insider’s look into gardening in DC. I also like the architecture and the idea that in troubled times a garden is a source of refuge. It was less about the plants and more about the idea that instead of labeling ourselves as religious or non-religious, blue or red, we can come together to seek and find beauty. I am a completely non-religious person but liked the idea of a garden as sanctuary.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow

    It is always fun to see how each participant views the gardens. You got some great photos here even if it didn’t live up to your expectations.

  4. bittster

    Thanks for the tour. I can see how you might not be overwhelmed with parts but I do like the one photo of the tombs! Maybe because the plantings seem to be able to do their own thing, and it’s such a sheltered area, maybe thats what I like…. but I can’t make out the tombs either lol


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