So the Rideau Woodland Ramble previously mentioned? Gorgeous, inspiring, and all-around delightful. I agree with the garden magazines, it is definitely worth the drive. Must go back in the spring - they have rhododendrons taller than me! I hope mine manage to achieve that stature eventually.
Aaaaaand, to make this trip EVEN MORE AWESOME, they had a sale on! So, the spoils:
* two gigantor phlox ("Natascha" - pinky-purple striped and mildew-resistant)
* a rheum palmatum "atrosanguineum" - not totally sure where I'll put it yet, maybe it will replace the beans? I couldn't resist!
* a pink new england aster, which claims to stay shorter than my sprawling purple one, but has weirdly bare leggy stems, so have to find something low-lying yet bushy to plant it behind
* a bush clematis - who knew clematis comes in bush form?? - called china purple. It doesn't climb, but has lovely lime-green leaves and purple late-summer flowers and funky seedpods. AND it's apparently highly fragrant when in bloom. It gets to be about 3' x 3' so again not totally sure where I'll put it, but it was too cool to pass up.
I was sorely tempted by a beautiful rose with bronzy foliage and orange-fading-to-yellow blossoms, too, but it was a floribunda, which means my lazy-ass approach to winter protection would probably spell its doom.