Garden Photo of the Day

Saying goodbye to Cynthia’s garden in Rwanda, Day 1

This is our driveway.  If you parked your car in the back, you would walk this way to get to the front terrace and the front door.  The overhanging tree on the left is a white-blooming Plumeria sp.  During the last year, we have planted palm trees on both sides of the semi-circular driveway.  Otherwise, this area is mostly planted in yellow daylilies, small pink shrub roses, Salvia leucantha or Mexican sage, orange Lantana camera, and burgundy-leafed cannas. (August)

A couple of years ago (February 2012) we visited Cynthia Goodson's garden in Rwanda (HERE and HERE), and we all fell in love with it. At that time, she stressed that she couldn't take credit for the garden, since she'd moved there just months before. Well, she can certainly take credit now! She just sent in a slew of photos of what she's been up to for the past two years, and it's spectacular! She says, "We moved to this house in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2011.  It is a diplomatic residence, so we use the terrace and garden for receptions and other large events fairly often. Over the last almost three years, we have made a number of changes to the garden, but the biggest were opening up the area in front of the terrace with grass and widening the planting beds along the larger lawn below. If you would like to know more about the garden, which we are actually leaving quite soon, please take a look at my blog, enclos*ure, and click on ‘Our garden’ under ‘Categories’ in the right-hand sidebar (or just click HERE). These photos were taken between April and November 2014." How can you bear to leave, Cynthia? The garden is stunning, and obviously took LOTS of inspiration and work. Thanks so much for hiving us an update! ***Cynthia sent in so many great photos that I couldn't whittle them down, so we'll spend two more days in her garden, welcoming in 2015! Stay tuned….


This is also along the driveway, looking to our acacia tree. There is a Ravenalas madagascariensis or traveler’s palm behind it.  You may want to compare these two photos to those of this area in this blog in 2012. (June)

The planting beds in this area end in acute angles, so we finished them off with stone paving. (June)

Another view of the acacia tree, which now has orchids growing between its branches. (April)

Yellow-blooming orchids in the acacia tree. (November)

Turning to the left from the last photo, this is the entrance to the terrace and the house.  Sadly, the crape myrtle on the left side has never thrived (powdery mildew), and I think I will take it out and move the small palm tree between the pots (in the center) to that spot.

The upper lawn in front of the terrace.  When we arrived in 2011, there were 3’ – 4’ clipped hedges on either side of this space, with just a 3’ wide grass path down the center.  The columns were covered with vines.  The arrangement made the terrace feel claustrophobic and obscured the wonderful view. (July)

There are two retaining walls (3’-4’ high) between the upper lawn and the lower lawn, with a planting bed between them.  In this picture, from the right: an orange-blooming tropical hibiscus, orange Kniphofia uvaria, blue Evolvulus ‘Blue Sapphire,’ Graptopelum in pots, and yellow daylilies. (August)

Turning around from the last photo – in the lower left corner: variegated ornamental ginger; and, in the middle: a large Croton bush (both growing in the middle planting bed between the two retaining walls.  The grey-blue succulent is Kalanchoe, possibly “mother of millions,” K. daigremontiana. There is a very large red-flowering Mussaenda erythrophylla vine (aka “Ashanti blood”) growing up into the acacia tree.  Its leaves and bracts look very much like a poinsettia.  The acacia also had small white blooms in this photo. (April)

The pink flowers on the left are Clerodendron thomsoniae var. delectum.  It is a vine, which I have growing on 4’ high supports. (April)
An unidentified small shrub rose in the same area. (April)
This is the space at the other end of the front terrace.  Another Mussaenda is on the right. (June)

View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 12/29/2014

    Wow! Seems like it is paradise week on GPOD. These lush tropical photos bring me back to my native roots and childhood. Oh, how I miss the steady long daytime hours and the sizzle of the sun (don't miss the humidity nor the mosquitoes though). What you have done with the place is simply amazing Cynthia! I would be heartbroken to leave but I have a feeling you will be building beautiful new home wherever you go. If anything, garden sanctuaries like yours really transform a house into a home. Can't wait to see tomorrow's installment. Happy New Year to all!

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    meander_michaele 12/30/2014

    Surely, Cynthia, one definition of heaven on earth has to be exotic (to me) orchids growing au naturel within the branches of an equally beautiful and exotic tree. Your improvements are wonderful...I love how stately and elegant the white columns now look. I'm sure the more expansive feel is very conducive to the level of gracious entertaining that takes place in a diplomatic residence. Definitely looking forwards to tomorrow's pictures.

  3. Nurserynotnordstroms 12/30/2014

    Wow amazing gardens and wildlife it will be difficult to leave I'm sure ,but Cynthia you must be so excited to be moving to Germany. That may be our next international trip we are still deciding.Do you already know what your home and gardens will look like in Germany?It will be very fun to follow you along via your blog. I am very much looking forward to ringing in the New Year and seeing more of your beautiful gardens. Happy New Year Cynthia.

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    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/30/2014

    As I looked through the photos, I kept looking up to see the glass conservatory roof. Really? All of those plants grow out of doors? :) Beautiful! I'm putting orchids in all of my trees. Any hardy to -10 degrees F? (I already know the answer!)

    1. Catasetumkid 12/30/2014

      Actually there are native orchids in all our 50 states! I have some I planted in my garden near Ann Arbor...cypripediums. The epiphytes have to come indoors in Sept/Oct, though.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/30/2014

        Hey, thanks for your comment. I have killed more cypripediums than I care to admit. Right now I am nursing along a Frosch hybrid that has remained rather healthy for two years. My other favorite is the showy orchis; killed it, too! Do you have several varieties? Absolutely some of my favorites. My only real success is with Bletilla striata, Chinese ground orchid. Grows like crazy for me. cheers!
        PS. I just looked up Catasetum. An amazing genus!

        1. Catasetumkid 12/31/2014

          Hi Tim - I have a couple of cyps that have done well, and I've had several die on me. They're too darned expensive to kill!! Bletilla striata grows well for me, too. Love it! them, too, and lycastes and lots of others. But I wish I could grow oncidiums in trees like they are in this beautiful African garden. Such a dream.

  5. Quiltingmamma 12/30/2014

    Having spent earlier years moving regularly, I understand the mindset that comes when one knows they only borrow a place for a short time. Heart investment is slightly different to a home you expect to own 'forever'. However, I am happy for you; who clearly loves a garden, as been able to make such changes to the landscape. These photos are lovely, and I have enjoyed your blog with the before and afters. The changes to the lawn edgings, painting the light standards and incorporating them into the beds really makes a difference. I can't tell whether the blog is just for Rwanda or goes back to other gardens in other places, but I hope you have a garden to nurture in Germany. There you will experience some of your DC winters - where you can ponder and dream of gardens to come. As I am off to Tanzania and Uganda soon myself (but just for a visit) I am reviewing your blogs for February to see what I might see in the gardens department. One cannot spend all their time looking at mammals, birds and reptiles. Flowers are also on my photo list.
    Happy New Year and safari nyema (bon voyage).

  6. NCYarden 12/30/2014

    Wow, what an amazing tropical garden, certainly unlike anything I get to see around me. I am fascinated by the diversity, but also find it interesting the plants I can see that do grow here in NC as well. Says a lot about plants' adaptability. I do wish I could grow just even one orchid in a tree like it's meant to be. I would be stoked to achieve it, with blooms of course, even if just for one growing season. And a plumeria tree, omg really, a tree? - it must smell so good you must almost want to vomit with fragrant intoxication. It must be frustrating to have to leave such a place after your investment. Good luck and plenty of enjoyment on your new gardening endeavor, though, in the new location.

  7. greengenes 12/30/2014

    Its so wonderful to see other gardens from around the world! Thanks so much Cynthia for sending these in for us to view! To have a huge cycad and a travelers palm growing in a garden would be fun and exciting to view all the time! I would plant a chair near there! Anyway its all so beautiful and I know it is going to be hard to leave. But there are many new adventures ahead for you in gardening! Its going to be hard to wait until tomorrow!

  8. GrannyMay 12/30/2014

    You have certainly left your mark on this garden Cynthia! Lovely to start with, it has become gorgeous under your care. I love the new, less formal-looking, flowerbeds and enhanced view. And do agree that the painted lampposts were a great idea, leaving the lamps to "float" above the greenery. Looking forward to more tropical beauty tomorrow!

  9. Cenepk10 12/30/2014

    Stunning…I started fighting off the jealousy at the orchids hanging from the acacia tree…
    A garden is a most lovely way to use our God given creativity to leave a loving kiss on our little piece of Earth. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. GrannyCC 12/30/2014

    Beautiful and lush. It must be hard to leave but look forward to your next project in Germany.

  11. sheila_schultz 12/30/2014

    I feel as if I have been swept away to another time... being graciously entertained on the open terrace, wandering the exquisite grounds and beautiful gardens, smelling the exotic scents, feeling the heat and humidity of the rainy season and listening to the unfamiliar sounds of the local birds and wildlife. You have touched all of my senses Cynthia with your beautiful photos. I can't wait for tomorrow's installment! The next family that moves into this residence has such a gift in store for them, thanks to your hard work and vision.
    You are going to have fun in Germany, it's a different kind of beautiful... you must send us photos of your new residence when you get settled so we can imagine the magic you will create during your tour there.

  12. schatzi 12/30/2014

    Wow! That Mussaenda is spectacular. You have done a great job opening up the garden. I love the orchid blooming in the tree. Have fun in Germany. Happy New Year, all.

  13. user-7007327 12/30/2014

    Can I live there?? Beautiful, just beautiful.

  14. Cindy_at_enclos_ure 12/31/2014

    Thank you to everyone who has commented on these pictures of our garden. It is hard to leave it behind (and possibly the world's most perfect weather), but it will live on for me in my photos. And it's a nice feeling to pass it on to the next family and believe that they will enjoy all our efforts.

    Thanks also to everyone who has visited my blog in the last couple of days. We will have a garden in Stuttgart -- although there may not be too much to report for a few months -- and we expect to visit a lot of gardens throughout Germany and Europe. So I hope you will check in on me from time to time. Happy New Year!

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