Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend, Friday and Saturday
What a joy it was to be among plant nuts…all but Sheila strangers to me except for the lovely Lucy Hardiman, from whom I have taken a couple of workshops…but it did not matter that we knew almost no one as we all had so much in common. The touring of gardens also impressed upon me that I have not been devoting enough time and attention to my own garden because of so much time being consumed with work. If I reduce our schedule to only loveable jobs, I’ll have a day or two off each week at home. (And yet, must make enough money to buy plants!)
And oh, the gardens! Friday Sheila and I toured the lovely Bishop’s Close and some large estate gardens that were part of a Garden Conservancy tour….gardens which went on and on, beyond each curve another acre or two of amazing plants. Gardens with room for a perfect lawn about a mile wide AND room for plenty of collectible plants. One garden was begun by a “Sir and Lady”, and we do think all had a staff of gardeners keeping them in perfect condition. They were breathtaking but could be said to arouse a twinge of envy and dissatisfaction at one’s own humble double lot or even, as in Sheila’s case, one’s own almost-acre. We were able to enjoy without much covetousness…not too much.
(above left) a stream garden in The Bishop’s Close; (right) an island bed in a vast expanse of lawn at The Bates Garden
(above) The Bates Garden wonderful rock garden; in the neighbouring “High Hatch Garden”, Buddha presides on the way to a grand swimming pool and hot tub…with camellias in his hands, perhaps to thank him for so much prosperity.
Friday night the weekend opened with Dan Hinkley’s lecture, following Saturday morning by three more scintillating talks by Bart O’Brien, Cole Burrell, and Sean Hogan. Then we were off to tour as many gardens as possible of the lavish number opened by members of HPSO. We chose Southeat Portland for Saturday afternoon and even guided by Sheila’s godlike GPS unit we barely made it to the last garden by closing time.
Lucy Hardiman’s garden
We chose Southeast first because I very much wanted Sheila to see Lucy Hardiman’s inspirational small city garden in all its witty detail and amazing plant collection, and indeed it proved to be our favourite. Above left is her famous rock wall and bench along the street, which she called a “garden advance” rather than a garden retreat, a gift to the neighbourhood and to passersby. Inside the garden, blue pillars and colourful balls lighten up a shady area. (Oh how I need time to do this sort of thing under my big spruce tree, the one section in my garden that I never get around to fixing up.)
Rosemary and Walt Ellis garden
The garden of Rosemary and Walt Ellis, above, rich in exuberant plants, was also a favourite of ours with its inviting sitting spots and tiny pond full of koi.
Dulcy Mahar garden
Above, we had seen the garden of Dulcy Mahar (Oregonian garden writer) before, and it’s even better now, with an expanded vegetable garden (right), but with the same urn and grasses focal point as last time one which I still desire to copy! Sheila did not mean to pop into the photo, but emerged from a secret nook just in time to provide a sense of scale.
Above, Dulcy’s black kitty lounges by the pool….and one of many impeccable details in her garden.
Marlene Salon and David Goulder garden
In the much more formal garden of Marlene Salon and David Goulder another charming cat lounges on a bench next to a courtyard pool, where Sheila ponders garden design.
Woodland Way Nursery garden
By 4.30 p.m. we were in an astonishing garden called Quercus Terra, whose owner did not allow photos (we were sad), but which had a most photogenic enormous garden which fell away from the house in a series of levels with a pond and streams. Onward we rushed down the street to the last garden, Woodland Way Nursery, arriving fifteen minutes before the end of tour time. The owners were kind enough to not rush us. We examined with interest the small well planted area by the house with its skateboard seats and water feature (above left), and only toward the end did I wander across the back lawn and discover that the garden continued into a ravine by a streamside planted with cultivated and natural areas and seemingly going on for blocks (above right). I thought Sheila would find me, but she did not realize for some time that I had disappeared into the wilderness. By the time I emerged seeking her, the owners were lounging with their dog and glasses of wine on lawn chairs, amused as I went back round the house looking for my lost friend, who soon followed looking for me around the other side of the house. At last she had found the glorious ravine and got to see some of it, and eventually we were reunited at the entrance of the garden and departed for the speakers’ reception and dinner at the World Forestry center. To conserve energy for Sunday, we left during the horticultural spelling bee. An HPSO member with a garden outlying Portland was so kind to us newcomers that we particularly wanted to have the strength to drive out to his garden the next day.
[2012 update: Dulcy Mahar died in 2011. I miss her gardening columns. I won’t say rest in peace because I bet she is like me, not wanting to rest too much in an afterlife but wanting instead to be gardening in some beautiful place with the dogs and cats that preceded her there.]
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