A continuing trend on the Astoria Garden Tour is to revisit old gardens, and in 2012, three of the gardens were ones I had already seen. I was particularly pleased to see the garden of Leroy Adolphson and David Drafall, which I had last visited in 2007. Not only did I remember it as one of my favourite Astoria gardens but I was glad for the chance to photograph the garden to share with my new gardening neighbour, Judy, who lives four houses down from me in Ilwaco and collects Japanese maples. She was unable to join us but I looked at the garden through her eyes as well as mine. This garden is so powerful that looking at the photos pulled me in; I tried to write about it in the past tense but kept being brought into the present.
houses on the same block
On the way we passed houses similar to the Adolphson Drafall home; one had a bridge to get to the front door. The pink one, right next door, had no bridge, so you can see you would have to go down and then up many stairs to get to the front door. Oh, and look at the upper right window of the pink house:
doggie in the window
Ah, here we are at Leroy and David’s gate. From the programme: “Cross the wisteria and clematis entwined bridge into a hidden sanctuary.”
bridge from sidewalk to house
on the bridge
Above: Looking over the bridge and down to the left into the courtyard. The garden features “Forty seven Japanese maples, each a different variety, grace room after garden room created by …fences and gates that also serve as windbreaks.” On this hill above the Columbia River, the wind must be fierce. Right: Looking to the right of the bridge at a large maple that grows higher than the bridge itself, and the amazing thing is that they moved it in at almost that size. The lower foreground of the photo is the clematis growing on the railing of the bridge.
stairs from bridge
And…looking down the stairs to the lower level and contemplating my vertigo. Note the stairs further on leading up to a back door.
But I made it, hanging on tightly to the railing after waiting for everyone else to pass. I stopped halfway down to clear my head, with the excuse of taking the next photo. Sadly, some older people simply could not get down the stairs at all, and missed a lot.
by the stairs
the side door stairs
the side garden
by the base of the stairs from the bridge
and under the stairs
ferns, two views
The programme tells us that “”Native and hybrid fuchsias, irises, conifers, lilies, hostas, trillium, Jack in the pulpits and 20 + varieties of ferns abound.”
We enter the courtyard through a moon gate; here, the stairs from the bridge are to our right.
east side of courtyard
The courtyard is on both sides and under the bridge, between the much higher sidewalk and the house. The wood wall is that of the old two story (front opens onto the street above) garage. One of the owners told Allan his mom had been called a communist, and this wood is from her old building downtown where someone had carved the word “RED”. (above right)
mossy patio, and under the stairs
under the bridge
We emerge from the shady grotto created by the wooden bridge into the sunny patio to the west side of the back garden.
Next we explore the plantings on and around the wooden deck. Below, you can see the steep south side of the garden and the fence up along the sidewalk.
on the deck
looking north from the deck
a gong against the garage wall, with bridge above
looking back to the wooden deck
in the courtyard
in the courtyard; look up to see the bridge
All around us are Japanese maples of texture bold or feathery and colours of pink, red, gold, cream, green and white. A large peeling paperbark maple reminds me of how I had to leave mine behind in my old garden.
I also had a huge handsome massed set of contorted filberts which I had been inspired by another garden tour to prune up into tree form, but I had moved before doing so. Here was another good example of such pruning.
- paperbark maple and pruned contorted filbert
looking toward the street
toward mossy west side path
Mossy path on west side of house would not hold up to tour foot traffic.
back we went under the bridge
..and through the moon gate.
The moon gate path goes back to the shady side garden and the two flights of stairs.
Again we examined all the details of the lovely shade border.
ferns silver, gold, and green
ferns and moss
into the light
little river rock beach water feature
Just past a river rock “beach”, we step out onto a sunny, flat lawn. The Japanese maple theme extendsinto this river view, much more exposed area of the garden. You can see how tall the house is, like many in the neighbourhood that reach for that Columbia River view.
back yard with maple
back garden details
On the west side of the back garden, we get another view of the so lovely moss walkway.
view from the deck
The deck seems to float in the air over the Columbia and a lightweight netting keeps one from accidentally reaching one’s hand through the clear panels. As we gaze at the river, we also realize that yet another lawn and shrub border lies below us. We found that it was accessed from a steep side path which was tactfully blocked for our safety.
path to the lowest garden
cookies and bottled water
Allan and I are interested to see what treat has been provided for the tour goers because we and our nearby neighbours Tom and Judy have been discussing, with some small anxiety, what we will serve for our guests when our tour happens on July 21st Even though we know that bottled water is not environmentally correct, we took away this idea (and it worked out well on our very hot and sunny tour day when we were too busy to refill water jugs).
back toward the stairs
Having now thoroughly explored the garden from front to back, we had difficulty leaving. We attempt to return to the stairs to the bridge but find ourselves back through the moon gate for one more look at the courtyards.
I would like to see this garden in the mist with droplets clinging to every leaf or in the winter with all the colours and forms of trunks and twigs revealed.
back through the moon gate
I marvel again at the large maple that they brought in with a crane.
under the bridge
Finally we remove ourselves from the lower courtyrds, climb the stairs (much easier going up than down) and have one last look from above. Several more gardens await us and we want to get to our favourite little nursery in Gearhart before closing time.
one last look from above
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