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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


A gnome being carried off by aliens.


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


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.


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.


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!)


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. I’m sure Tammy is just as entertaining and funny in person as she is on her blog. This visit must have been so much fun! I’ve made some wonderful friends through blogging too.

  2. Such an interesting garden, we can all learn a lot from it. Tammy’s birds must be spoilt with having such a choice of homes!

  3. How lovely to see the garden and meet Tammy in person, she sounds such fun. Goodness, what pampered birds with such a choice of desirable residences.

  4. Thanks for introducing me to Tammy and Casa Mariposa. Her garden is so full of ideas. Looking forward to seeing how you evolve the dry streambed plan!

  5. An interesting garden, but how long does it take to water all those pots every day?

    • I don’t water them everyday but do water them frequently during the heat of summer. It takes a while but is a good workout. :o)

  6. I love when bloggers visit each other; it gives you a different perspective on a virtually familiar garden.

  7. Woo hoo!! I had so much fun with you and Judy! Thanks for the great write up and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Minneapolis.

  8. It must be great to meet bloggers and see their gardens after getting to know them virtually and reading their blogs. What a nice thing to do. Love those nest boxes (bird houses).

  9. What a great time you must have all had, especially with your keen senses of humor. Beautiful garden! And any day that includes homemade cookies is up there with the best.

  10. Wonderful post. Love what Tammy has done with her yard. Also, I thought Judy’s comment about blog friends was also right on the mark.

  11. Can’t get over that dry stream bed that Tammy created. So cool and impressive! Fun to see Tammy’s garden from another perspective…

  12. What fun, and of course there were tasty treats! Lucky you, Oh and Tammy….my but you’ve got a lot of HUGE containers!!! (put an Agave in one).

  13. 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.

  14. Lucky you, to get to have a sit-down with Tammy in her garden…and lunch and cookies! I can almost hear the laughter from here, as two of the web’s most entertaining bloggers exchange quips.

  15. I like the dry stream bed and the blue eyed grass. I didn’t know you could by them.
    I also like that viburnum. Its flowers look the same as our native hobblebushes (Viburnum lantanoides) that I just walked 6 miles to see in bloom. They were worth every step!

  16. 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!

  17. Lovely garden, I think the dry stream bed works really well, I’d like to try something like that in our garden. Also love those birdhouses…but we might need one just a couple sizes bigger for our cockatoos!

  18. After having read about it for some years in Tammy’s blog, how interesting to see Tammy’s garden from a different point of view and what garden it seems to be! I love her assemblage of pots!

  19. 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.

  20. Tammy is awesome! She puts some serious muscle and humor into her garden/blog. I love the connections made via blogging. It really has opened up a whole new world. Lucky you two got to visit with Tammy! I hope she posts the recipe for those cookies. They sound amazing!

  21. 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!

    • We would love to visit and see your garden. It’s been a long time since I have been in Alabama (once stayed in Mobile for a couple days). What part of the state do you live in?

  22. That really is a beautiful garden, and with all the added features too. Aren’t those birdhouses a delight! Will have to hop over and visit Tammy. Thanks for sharing!

  23. 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.

  24. How fun to see Tammy’s garden through your eyes (and Judy’s)! Tammy’s rain garden is incredible! I didn’t realize she had so many bird houses and such an amazing patio!

  25. Being a HUGE fan of Tammy, I’m rather green-eyed that you got to visit and meet her and her lovely pack!!! You do her and her beautiful garden justice. Lovely post.xxx

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