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Georgetown Gardens 101

May 10, 2015

Jacuzzi in Gwendolyn's garden (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jacuzzi in Gwendolyn's garden

“The garden is simple in layout, with chaos in the beds.” That’s Gwendolyn van Paasschen describing the plantings in her own exquisite garden. I was lucky enough to have this master landscape designer accompany me on the 87th Annual Georgetown Garden Tour.

Pleached hornbeams (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Pleached hornbeams

After apologizing for my floriculture and horticulture illiteracy, we began our journey to eight private gardens. From blooming onions to espaliered gingkoes, and all manner of mulch, with Gwendolyn, every window box and climbing vine along the way had something I’d never noticed before, much less its Latin name.

If nothing else, I will remember the difference between pleached (interlaced branches or vines to make a hedge) and espaliered (a tree or shrub that’s been trained to grow in a flat plane against a wall or trellis, often in a symmetrical pattern).

Koi pond (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Koi pond

In the Italianate-inspired garden with sunken terraces, clipped Japanese maples, complex stonework and koi pond, Gwendolyn remarked, “Beatrix Farrand would be comfortable with the creative patterns of brick and flagstone here.” Farrand, the sole founding female member of the American Association of Landscape Designers, was the designer of Dumbarton and many other well known and important early 20th century gardens.   

Garden made for living (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Garden made for living

'Honest and intimate' is how Gwendolyn described “this space designed to be lived in rather than for showing off.” There’s a hammock, an eclectic collection of garden pots and the sound of water eminating from the water feature delineating sitting and dining areas.

The mature, deciduous dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in 'The Architect’s Garden,' a Chinese native originating 50 million years ago once thought to be extinct but living specimens were discovered in 1943, in Moudao, China.

The Architect's garden (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Architect's garden

This garden was more about structure and balanced layout plants with its grass-covered steps and steel risers, the repetition of grays, blacks, and whites, and unadorned lap pool. Taken all together, this is a composition where everything works.  The perfect place to entertain or to sit quietly with a book.

For a magical walk down thirty eight of Georgetown’s garden paths, check out the recently published Gardens of Georgetown, proceeds of which benefit local organizations, with emphasis on the preservation of gardens, parks and green spaces.

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I Gotta New Dermatude

April 28, 2015

Full disclosure: I hate facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, pilates and even yoga. There I said it. But when I was recently asked to try Dermatude's Meta Therapy (Medical & Esthetical Tissue Activating Therapy), a non-invasive facial at Georgetown Salon & Spa, the only spa in the city to offer it, I couldn't say no. After all, I never shy away from anything new that might turn back the clock.

Meta Therapy before & after photos (Photo by: dermatude.com) Meta Therapy before & after photos

I've had one treatment (eight optimal, four also good) and so far, I love it. Master esthetician Linda Hardiman explained that this is a safe and natural method that makes invisible micro-perforations in the skin to stimulate collagen production.

Having practiced in England and here in DC for over 20 years, she was delighted when NL Group, the Dutch company which developed Meta Therapy, approached her with their new exclusive product (touted by the world-class Harley Street Clinic in the UK as the "most high-tech facial"). "I love how this is completely natural, with no down time and that it works with the skin's own regeneration system to improve texture and elasticity," said Hardiman.

Georgetown Salon & Spa (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown Salon & Spa

Before the little needles penetrate the skin's surface (and yes, over the forehead and eye area they're quite stimulating), serums with active ingredients known as subjectables, are applied to the skin. Following the treatment, a cool facial mask with vitamins, peptides and hyaluronic acid is placed over the face for a few minutes to be absorbed into the deep layers of the skin, which in turn, promotes cell regeneration.

Sounds good and feels even better. Add a neck massage (a very soothing one!) and the session is totally exhilerating. My skin feels taut and blackheads I didn't know I had, are gone.

Ok, I still don't like pilates and yoga. But I will definitely be back for more Meta Therapy.

Georgetown Salon & Spa is located at 2715 M Street. Tel: 202.333.8099

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Maxime, Georgetown's New Classic French Bistro

April 21, 2015

steak frites (Photo by: Judith Beermann) steak frites

Open for only a few weeks and Maxime already has the feel of your favorite, cozy neighborhood brasserie. This French steakhouse and mussel bar is a most welcome addition to Georgetown's casual dining scene.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

The centerpiece of the classic bistro menu is, of course, the steak frites, with broiled marinated Portobello mushroom steak or salmon filet as options. Called La Formule (the ‘Maxime Signature Meal') by Executive Chef Ryan Fichter, the emphasis is on high quality ingredients (US Angus beef top sirloin) and simple, expert preparation. With a selection of Belgian-inspired specialty beers and cocktails, and no bottle of wine more than $45, Maxime aims to please. 

boeuf bourgoignon (Photo by: Judith Beermann) boeuf bourgoignon

The décor feels as authentic as the food tastes. Exposed brick everywhere, a wraparound bar and bakery area (all the desserts are homemade), centerpiece fireplace, charming artwork, black and white French photos, and a wonderful glass-enclosed patio dining area in the rear of the restaurant. There’s also a 100-seat private event dining space downstairs.

Ben Kirane (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Ben Kirane

Says owner Ben Kirane, “We want our customers to be frequent visitors who stop by for happy hour after class or work to enjoy a variety of beverages, excellent food, and friendly conversation, and then stay for dinner!” 

The beouf bourgoignon (an hors d’oeuvre we’d love to see on the entrée menu too) and profiteroles are musts!

Together with restaurateurs Moe and Joe Idrissi (of Bodega and Thunder Burger), this stellar team has ‘La Formule’ for success.  

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

charcuterie tray (Photo by: Judith Beermann) charcuterie tray

profiterole (Photo by: Judith Beermann) profiterole

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