I confess: This is actually written on August 12th, because work has been all-consuming, and during days off I have been obsessed with a big pruning project at home.
This isn’t the most suspenseful way of telling the tale, but on the morning of Saturday, August 4th, I read an article by Dan Hinkley in Garden Design magazine in which he mentioned Dichroa febrifuga, an Asian shrub with hydrangea-like flowers and cobalt blue berries. It’s been a fixture on my must-have list for years, and I have indeed bought a couple of them by mail order but they were small and fizzled out. Why, I thought to myself in frustration, do I STILL not have this excellent shrub? It’s not one I see in nurseries. And then, as kind fate would have it, by the end of the day I had a dichroa febrifuga of my very own!
We had been planning another garden tour day trip. (If I lived in Seattle or Portland with their excellent weekly open gardens by members of the Northwest Perennial Alliance and the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon, I’d rarely spend a spring or summer Saturday gardening at home.)
Up the Columbia River we drove to a small riverside town, stopping on the way at Duffy’s Irish Pub in Gray’s River because Allan had discovered it on his latest motorcycle trip and wanted me to see the punk rock poster collection inside. Indeed, it took me back to happy days of the 80s in Seattle clubs. Back in the 80s, my significant other, Bryan, had managed a delicously grotty punk club called the Gorilla Room, and our subsequent life together included many shows… and we stayed, when visiting Vancouver, B.C., at the D.O.A. house. So it certainly took me way way back to see a DOA poster on this wall in small town southwestern Washington.
Punk rock memories at Duffy’s Pub
The pub’s back deck overlooks a charming river and their garden features an interesting array of paths, convincing me all the more that I love walking a mysterious warren of paths between drastically raised beds and that I like to see a variety of materials used, and that I forgot to do a blog entry about our visit in Seattle to the Tilth garden with its enjoyable paths.
paths and raised beds at Duffy’s Irish Pub
The paths at Duffy’s Pub.. Some garden designer’s articles say you must, to be tasteful, stick with the same material throughout a garden, but I find this much more fascinating.
Almost across the street from the pub sits one of my favourite tiny cottages or shacks. Further up river, we stopped at a nursery in Skamokawa. Twas quiet and off-season but I enjoyed the view of plants for sale on a dock….Allan pointed out it’s a rare nursery where you can shop by boat.
adorable shack………………and the dock at Skamokawa Gardens Nursery
Eventually, after a detour down a scenic narrow road, we arrived at the small town upriver and bought tickets for the “home and garden” tour and read the descriptions of the four homes and gardens on offer. A sense of doom settled over me, as the descriptions were all of the houses with no detailed mention of the gardens at all. Any avid gardener would describe the gardens well. The houses may have been historic, but that was not clear from the information sheet and I realized that while I very much enjoy a tour of, say, Cannon Beach cottages, I don’t like seeing houses whose owners just sound like they are proud of their possessions. The closest thing to a garden description was someone waxing enthusiastic about their river view deck. So, feeling rather mean but being as nice as could be, we got our money back from the ticket vendor and cancelled our tour mission! And now…what to do!?
I remembered my recent email enquiry to owner Lisa Mahnke of Evergreen Terrace Garden this side of Longview, and that the nursery was open in August by appointment only, and called her…and she agreed to let us in! So the afternoon was gloriously saved and after a drive up the amazingly steep gravel road to the almost-secret nursery we were rewarded with a personal tour of the woodland paths around the enviable lake…and there, among many very cool plants, I saw a Dichroa febrifuga…and indeed, she had one for sale in a pot!! So from years of forgetting my desire for that shrub, to being reminded of it by Dan Hinkley that very morning, I suddenly had one of my very own! (Not to mention, of course, several other choice plants…After all, I had to make it worth Lisa’s while to open the nursery for us.)
Dichroa febrifuga in the ground, and MINE in a pot
(Above) the gardens at Evergreen Terrace, including a so-desirable little lake. I think she said the tree in above right foliage close-up is a cutleaf Alder…very striking but it would never have fit into our car.
Evergreen Terrace is creating an amazing “henge” garden which we did not see because it’s at a lower level of the nursery, but I remember it from a visit years ago. The nursery’s website has some good photos of it. [2012 note: The website seems to be gone, and I can’t find any information about or not this wonderful nursery even exists any more. The henge garden was a Stonehenge like display of huge rocks enhanced with plants.]
Plants acquired from Evergeen Terrace: Morus ‘Nuclear Blast’, Azara microphylla (two, for clients), Gunnera prorepens (a tiny stoloniferous gunnera from New Zealand), Cryptomeria knaptonesis (white tipped, will grow in shade), 2 Athyrium filix-femina ‘Dre’s Dagger’ (a striking fern), and Dichroa febrifuga.
On the way back we stopped at a cafe/hotel/elderhostel kayak place in Skamokawa, where I’d eaten good sandwiches before and did again. For some reason I completely failed to photograph the picturesque network of boardwalks along the river behind the buildings.
Read Full Post »