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Archive for June, 2007

 

Long Beach Peninsula Garden Tour: 

Nahcotta Rhododendron Garden

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When Robert and I first moved to the Peninsula on Christmas eve of 1992, we soon heard of a nursery called Hall’s Gardens, owned by Don and Marva Hall.  Over the next few years we stopped by there a number of times, drawn by the walk around the large pond, the rock garden of interesting small plants, many new to me, and the nursery offerings.  In my garden today grow two large ‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick’ contorted filberts originally purchased from Hall’s.

When Hall’s went up for sale, we heard that Dan Hinkley of Heronswood toured the property but decided too much of it was wetland without enough room for propagation houses. Would that Heronswood had moved to the Peninsula…I had already been mail ordering from them since their beginning…what a joy that would have been!

Then Hall’s disappeared into obscurity for me until a couple of years ago when I heard that it had been purchased and the garden renovated by Gary Ayers and Daniel Drinkard. So for it to be on the Music in the Garden tour caused me considerable excitement.

(Below) The gardens around the house are rich in detail…the decorative stepping stones inside the entry arch and a deep blue glossy urn backed with bamboo

…and a fountain pond on the way to the front door…..

The house, for sale again, was open for touring but I was pretty much drawn straight through from the front door to the veranda with its view of the pond.  Now here’s a pond you could take a small boat out on.

the deck overlooking the pond

Maybe the metal sign saying “SIMPLIFY” is one reason the house and garden is for sale.  I would imagine it requires considerable work, but if we were about $200,000 dollars richer it is work we would gladly take on. (Allan has two small boats, and there is that pond….)…  As it is, our having no mortgage provides much freedom from financial stress…and yet, that pond!! Ours is a wee puddle in comparison, a mere muddy dewdrop.

(left) looking from the shady verandah out to the pond and (right) from the other side of the pond back to the house.

With over 8 acres there’s so much to see.  The back end of the property is swamp which may be innaccessible, but the one half acre pond itself still has a soft mossy path wandering all around it.

views of the pond

The pond, the pond, sigh, the glorious pond.  I am sure every gardener who toured the place dreamed of owning it. I suppose I would rather own my tiny bit of paradise than be in thrall to a mortgage on a bigger one, but I do hope an avid gardener buys the place. I’ll imagine myself there often!

Thanks to Patti Jacobsen for putting on a wonderful tour and to all the Peninsula residents who opened their gardens.

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Three of the gardens were so large and fabulous that I could not whittle down the parts to show you, so two of them share a page of their own, and one can glory in its own private page.

Caswell’s by the Bay bed and breakfast, while it looks like a historic home, was built after I moved to the Peninusla. As we drove up to its wonderful facade, I saw the first really unusual (to me) plant of the tour and cried out: “An echium”.  That is the difference between the Seattle and Portland tours and here: the cities perhaps have more plant nuts, or more nurseries catering to plant nuts, so I am more likely to see a plant whose unfamiliarity brings a gasp of excitement.

The entrance view of Caswell’s, The Echium!! and the gazebo.

Further plant excitement ensued when I realized that around the sides of the wrap-around pillared porch were not sunflowers, as they appeared to be from a distance, but Brugmansia…not yet in bloom but we’ll visit later during the height of their truly intoxicating flowers.

Caswell’s porch with Brugmansia and a glorious view of Willapa Bay

Our last stop of the day (but we will backtrack to Gyspy Pond) was the garden of Carol and Woody Pierson and their nine spaniels! (I remember of olden days their sparky little dachsund, Weenus, may she long be remembered, and their three legged labrador.)

I had never realized what extensive gardens they have, beginning with an entry pond with fish and rounding the corner of the house to another pond with the most enormous koi I’ve ever seen outside of a garden show display garden.  With a waterfall (or two?) the second pond looked different and splendid from every angle.

The first pond (top left) and three shots of the second pond (the last looking back from its surrounding landscape)

The gardens extend down to the bay with interesting rusty objects and massive driftwood and a most excellent sit spot.

We skipped the last garden on the tour, the new Mariner’s Memorial Park in Ilwaco with its wall by our friend Bill Clearman and tile artist Renee O’Connor….It is close to home so we drive by it daily and it is well worth seeing.

Now…let’s go back to our favourite garden of the tour!

[2012 note: Caswell’s is no longer a B&B but still has wonderful gardens and in 2011 was on the Peninsula garden tour again.]

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You might think we never work anymore, just take days off and go on garden tours. Not so, but in order to get some time off it’s true that I’m so focused on work that I don’t get out the camera much on jobs.

This week we did accomplish one long awaited thing:  The Shelburne fence got its final coat of paint where the truck went into the garden and we were able to add soil and plants.  And at Anthony’s-darling-Home-Court, we pruned down the rhodos to let more light into the cabins.  And of course, we spent a half day at Jo’s garden getting it to shine on the “Music in the Garden” tour of the peninsula, a benefit for Water Music Festival.

We did some work at (left) The Shelburne and (right) Anthony’s Home Court.

Long Beach Peninsula garden tour

We began the tour by meeting Mary of Klipsan Beach Cottages and her mother, also Mary (known as “Mary Mom”), who joined us for the first part of the tour.  Then back we went to Long Beach so that the Marys could be part of the amazed visitors Jo’s garden which is so stuffed with colour and beauty that it fills one with joy to enter.  That effect is not achieved without much investment of love, time and money, good soil amendments and dependable watering.  Jo displayed some of her lovely garden quilts (an area where her talent is as great as gardening) and lemonade and cookies. Familiar faces already began to appear in the gardens:  Dianne Duprez, Seaview masseuse, and others whom I recognized but could not place a name to. It is awkward sometimes to be able to remember plant names so much better than human names.

Jo’s garden (left), with cookies! and (right) Mary Newell’s archway.

Onward to Mary Newell’s garden in Surfside…  I have always admired it as we drive by it on the way to work in Marilyn’s garden just a block away.   The brick arch, seen in the background, right, over a lawn with an island rose bed, impressed me deeply. The tour brochure said she has 125 roses, but I overheard a remark that it might be more like 200 by now.

Mary Newell’s garden

Mary Newell’s back yard (above) is a lovely shady dell with island beds, a playhouse, and a deck filled with those charming whimsical touches that skilled gardeners add to their hardscapes. She let me peek into her pot ghetto and there were only a few, maybe only ONE, unplanted plants in it: most impressive.

North and east over to Oysterville we drove to Polly Friedlander’s large back yard garden with its formal topiaries and live classical piano music.

Friedlander garden in Oysterville

I would never be able to have a garden like this; inside the fenced topiary garden (above left) are little geometrical beds which I would so soon have spilling over with plants that the lines would disappear.  I love the way the wilder part of the garden (above right) just spills out into the meadows with a view of Willapa Bay.

We toured one more garden before Mary and Mary returned to KBC, but oh my! it and the final garden on our tour will need their own entry.

So let’s move on to Allan and I visiting a tiny garden in Ocean Park at Debbie Halliburton’s tiny gem around a 1910 cottage.  You know how I love small houses so you can imagine my delight at this impeccably cute one.

The front of Debby’s tiny cottage, and the back deck’s inviting purple chairs. The garden greeter had a dog to pet…named Stinky…who wasn’t.

As we drove back through Nahcotta to the next garden, we passed the Charles Nelson Guest house and Allan said “People are dancing!” We knew it was on the tour and featured music to promote water music festival, but dancing? It turned out a wedding was in progress and the garden closed to touring for an hour and half, so we missed out on the fairy garden there.

Our next stop was Larry Warnberg and Sandy Bradley’s garden, with potatoes a particular feature. Sandy has promoted a project to plant potatoes in gardens all over the Peninsula.  Their poppy patch was so beautiful with a fringed purple poppy that I got a dreadful photo of, but perhaps I don’t want to show it anyway and get too much competition for the seeds.

Sandy’s “potatoes in a sandy land” foreground) and Poppies. Dibs on a few of the fringed purple seeds.

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Thank you, Tom Fischer! (photo from his website)

Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend

Seven wonderful lectures and the touring of about 22 gardens in three days led to a moment of revelation during a wonderful speech (one of the best I have ever attended) on Sunday morning by Tom Fischer.  He told (with exquisite slides and great humour) about his new garden in Portland, and sitting in that audience surrounded by plant nuts who gasped at each glorious plant photo, I had tears in my eyes and said to Sheila afterward that I am indeed going to phase out all non-plant-nut jobs.  I will keep work that falls into either of these categories: The clients are plant nuts, or the clients allows ME to express my plant nuttiness their garden.

 My thoughts coalesced on the coach/bus back to the coast with resolve for the future:

  •  Spend more time and a little more money on my garden. (A balance must be struck between working enough to make money to buy plants!)
  •  Join the HPSO so that I can get to the Old Germantown garden.  (Allan and I belong to Washington’s Northwest Perennial Alliance, but garden tours in Seattle are an extra hour away.)
  • Work only at jobs allowing free expression of plant lust. This is a tough one as it might involve quitting some clients that I like but into whose gardens I have no creative input. All jobs must let me be a CPN (certified plant nut) and hortaholic.
  • Go to more garden tours (as offered by HPSO membership); supposedly they even have some tours on the coast!

 And I have already marked the calendar to get together with Sheila for next year’s HPSO study weekend in Eugene.

[2012 note:  It has taken me years to implement this revelation, but I think by 2011 I had it fully ingrained.  By then, I had amicably quit several jobs: one private garden where the very nice client said she did not want any new plants, and Raymond Federal Bank because the new owners did not want a tangled and (as Tom Fischer’s website puts it) overplanted garden.  I turned down any new job that did not entertain my passion for plants.  I quit all jobs that were just maintenance with no creativity (Shorebank, Subway).  In every case but one (which I quit in a right royal huff over the plant & materials budget being ridiculously tiny…$80 a year!…in comparison to the lavish indoor budget!), I quit amicably and kindly and found the client a good replacement (usually Ed Strange!).  We still have too many jobs, but I love them all.]

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Hardy Plant Study Weekend, Sunday: more amazing gardens 

Sunday we made it to the lecture hall before 8 A.M.  With diabolical cleverness, the organizers got the audience there in time by giving away door prizes before each lecture…wonderful plants and garden gear and literature (none of which we won, sadly.)  Three lectures later , we were off to more gardens, unfortunately not including the Old Germantown Garden which we had originally planned on. The toll of navigating through strange territory and the sleep deprivation of just not being at home decided us to stay within Portland and visit the eight northeast gardens on offer.  As soon as I returned home, I officially joined the HPSO and next time that Germantown garden has an open day, Allan and I will drive there from the coast. [2012 note, which we did, and to which I devoted a later journal entry]

Laughing Spirit Garden

Above: Everyone had that beautiful Papaver somniferum ‘Lauren’s Grape’, which I had seen in photos but not in person: a must have.  “Laughing Spirit Garden” was a lovely mass of colour and whimsy.

Joanne Fuller and Linda Erst neighbouring gardens

Two gardens next door were joined by a door and by the friendship of neighbours Joanne Fuller and Linda Ernst gardening together.  Such an arrangement is described in a chapter of one of my favourite gardening books ever, Gardening from the Heart by Carol Olwell. Each garden had wonderful porches and sit spots and one had a supply of hot coffee with cream, much appreciated on a drizzly wet day!

(Above) The porches of Linda’s garden; behind me was the wonderful coffee.

Next, we went to Jeffrey Bales’ garden of mosaics and flying carpets.  We were especially interested because he has a presence on the social networking site Tribe*. And I had seen his pebble mosaics along Lucy’s hell strip.

Jeffrey Bales garden

He told us that on sunny Saturday he had carpets and pillows around and guests were lounging in the garden. Sunday the drizzle did show off the colours of the stones although we were sorry to have missed the lavish exoticism of the day before.

Onward we drove to Nancyland, the garden on Nancy Goldman, president of the HPSO, where what did we find, among her many droll garden decorations, but another pebble carpet by Jeffrey Bales. We got to meet her cute dog, then, as time was waning before I had to catch the Amtrak Thruway Coach (a grand name for a bus) back to the coast, we moved onward to another garden, Darcy Daniel’s Bloomtown.

(left) Nancyland mosaic carpet (right) Stipa gigantea and Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’ at Bloomtown

Bloomtown was stunning, and if I had not been going home on the bus we would have hightailed it to her nearby nursery.  (As it was I was taking home, wrapped in t shirts, three plants from the HPSO plant sale vendors…and how hard it was to settle on three, and to not have room for large plants!) From her small in-garden sale, I bought one small Nicotiana langsdorfii which for some reason I couldn’t  find anywhere  earlier this year.

Bloomtown

The front entrance to Bloomtown garden….on the background level, the Stipa gigantea and  Cotinus from today’s leading photo…and the veg garden constructed in the former driveway.  The garage has become a studio. It’s all wonderful!

Bloomtown

From the studio, a view of a lovely sit spot, with detail of lights strung in the tree.  An idea for under that magestic but annoying spruce in my garden.

[*2012 notes  Tribe.net was (and is) a social internet site the preceded Facebook.

Originally this post continued with the big revelation that I got in a lecture, but I have decided to give that its own entry because it so influenced my gardening business.]

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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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It was a whirlwind of work Tuesday through Thursday …because I am leaving tomorrow morning at a shockingly early hour for the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend in Portland…meeting my good and witty gardening friend Sheila.  Speakers include the great Dan Hinkley.  Although I am very much a homebody who frets about taking trips of any sort, I am quite excited. My only regret is that I will be missing the sure to be wonderful Doggie Olympic Games which is the “pet” project of my friend Jill Grey.  Please go if you are here at the beach!

Squeezing five days of work into four was challenging, and Allan will have to do some watering this weekend, even though I was hoping he too could have three days off.  Thank goodness last night brought a pretty good rain so we did not have to water the Long Beach beach approach today.  Thoughts while we weeded it so it would look good for D.O.G. day:  I think I will phase out all of the plants which look stressed now from lack of water.  That means you, white Shasta daisies which must have come from a wildflower mix.  And, sadly, maybe my beloved Lychnis coronaria (rose campion) whose fuzzy grey basal leaves look terrible when dry.  Better to stick with the plants which do well: Lavender, Santolina, Rugosa rose, Gaura lindheimeri, and Armeria (sea thrift)…Verbascum, Dianthus, Sedums and Sempervivums, Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) and Artemisia.  The garden gets more wind now that some beach pines have been cleared from the fields on both sides, and it shows…plants which usually still looked good by this time of year are dryish (yes, you, daisies).

Some highlights of the week, which was too busy to even bring out the camera most days:

We began by mowing mom’s lawn and making sure she has enough firewood laid in.  Despite our neglect of her garden due to our frenzied schedule, it looks lovely to me, especially when (as I advised mom to do) I squint.

Mom’s garden in sunshine; mom bringing out the sprinkler

The garden at China Beach Retreat’s Audubon Cottage is becoming more colourful with rose campion and the most amazing Allium Schubertii

The pond at Joanne’s memorial garden…and the glorious view at the entrance to their private road (A Willapa Bay estuary)

At Klipsan Beach Cottages, a magestic phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem Sage) and an enormous purple poppy at Marilyn’s

A stunning red and purple poppy at Marilyn’s…thanks to seeds from Mike at Starrhill Farm …and a double pink california poppy at Mcd’s

That’s all till next week. Thanks for reading! And if you want a wonderful book to read, get “The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms” by Amy Stewart…all about worms.  Even though her garden memoir “From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden” is a favourite of mine, I was not sure I wanted to read a whole book about worms, but it’s enthralling.

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