Blooms Beyond the Basin? Oh, Yes.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Today marks the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. But spring brings with it loads of other, less beloved flowers, and we're going to shine some sun their way. A few great places to catch blooms besides those tedious b lossoms:

Through Sunday, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore hosts its annual Art Blooms bash, with floral arrangements inspired by specific pieces of art in the museum and created by local garden clubs. The show, themed "The Fragrance of Flowers," features 33 arrangements and launches the flower-themed exhibit "Floral Still Lifes From the Collection of Robert and Jane Meyerhoff," featuring watercolors, pastels and drawings by artists you wouldn't usually associate with floral still lifes -- Egon Schiele, Paul Klee, Rene Magritte and Piet Mondrian, among them.

Catch Art Blooms today from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and tomorrow and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Meyerhoff collection is up through June 10. Free. 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore. 410-547-9000.

Locally, spend a lunch hour at Rawlins Park in the District's Foggy Bottom neighborhood. The park, at 18th and E streets NW, is covered at this very moment in the gorgeous dark-pink magnolia blossoms that you might spot only here and there anywhere else. They generally don't last more than a couple of weeks, so get out there soon.

One vast oasis in the city you could spend hours at is the Smithsonian-managed Enid A. Haupt Garden, which gets a top-to-bottom makeover twice a year and is currently brimming with magnolias (which have already peaked), pansies in white, yellow and purple, and a few cherry trees. Tulips are peeking out from the ground but have yet to bloom. The four-acre garden, which bumps up against the Sackler Gallery, National Museum of African Art and Smithsonian Castle, has several "rooms" reflecting the missions of those sites with Asian, Moorish and ornate themes. The highlight is the Castle's parterre, a long, flat bed of flowers and grass with a geometric pattern. The current blooms stay up till early May, when they're swapped for summer and fall flora. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Tenth Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000.

-- Lavanya Ramanathan

© 2007 The Washington Post Company