study weekend touring, hosted by the Willamette Valley Hardy Plant Group
The wonderful study weekend featured Dubliner Helen Dillon as the keynote speaker and tours of many Eugene gardens. Sheila and I noticed while garden touring on Friday that too many of the first few gardens had the same feeling about them, as if the same designer had worked on them. It is terribly rude to say anything critical of a garden while IN it, but there is nothing to stop discussion between to gardening friends of similar tastes while going from one garden to another. I did love the use of these metal horse troughs as planters.
horse troughs with bamboo…a quick privacy screen from uphill neighbours
horse trough water feature
We did indeed learn that the first three or so gardens on the tour had been designed and installed by the same Eugene firm. The galvanized horse troughs appeared with bamboo, water, and vegetables. I still would like to make someone a veg garden with that idea: instant raised beds. (Also, am not sure the round one IS a “horse trough” but…same material.)
We liked this idea for a simple arbour:
wire mesh arbour for peas or beans
As I would later notice while touring Seattle area gardens during study weekend 2010, Alliums create far more effect when planted en masse:
Alliums, probably ‘Purple Sensation’, clustered
Once we had gotten away from the “horse trough gardens” we entered the enchanted land of a plant collector. Until then we had only enjoyed vignettes from each garden but had been a little bored with each garden as a whole.
a woodland border
in a collector’s garden
peaceful sit spot, interesting garden art
a pleasant circle
Sheila and I are horribly picky garden tourists because nothing in any of these quite lovely gardens really grabbed us. Or let me speak just for myself: I wanted more quirkiness, more oddity. I very much enjoyed certain parts of each garden but none gave me the enormous thrill of finding either a kindred spirit or someone whose vision amazes me.
I liked this garden circle, but still was not deeply moved:
The garden above had a swale off to the left, very newly planted. I began to realize that I was glad to have waited til my garden had matured before agreeing to have it on a tour. Either a very young garden, where one can say “Look what I did in just one year”, or an older garden offer the most interest. (Surely I need not add that the gardens above might be completely thrilling to a different gardener!) The next house and garden also appeared new…until we explored further.
big new house and garden
When we first approached the house above I found it too new and grand and freshly planted…..
But from my sequence of photographs, the lovely woodland walk must have been around back of this house, and you can see that when we came around to the mixed border, Sheila had her camera out.
The garden slopes slightly to this gorgeous pond…[edited to add that, having found my tourguide, I am pretty sure this is the Thomas/Levy garden.]
and luscious peonies, proving one must not judge a garden by a formal entry.
I can’t tell you much about the garden below; it has a rustic feel that does not seem like part of the garden with pond and peonies, so I wonder why it did not inspire more photos?
rustic garden of mystery
edited to add: I found my old tour guidebook and I believe that the garden of mystery is the Weiderhold garden, and the gate decorated with old garden tools are from the Mayes garden.
[If only I had found a blogging platform that worked for me (unlike the eventual functionality failure of iWeb) and had not taken two years off and then tried to recreate 2008-2009 through iPhoto and cursory notes in Facebook albums….]
Back to the wonders of the quirky garden that was next on the tour, the first one of the day that had me intrigued by the gardener’s individuality even though plant collecting was not his ultimate inspiration. He used rocks, ferns, a good palette of shady plants and had a dramatic homemade covered porch.
quirky Eugene back garden
On the way back to the study weekend hotel, as Sheila and I discussed our impressions of the day’s gardens, a stunning sight appeared ahead of us.
a Eugene bed and breakfast
Of course we stopped and the kind gardener took us on a tour of his rather new gardens. If anyone knows the name of this glorious B&B, please share it; I don’t think either Sheila nor I remember. His parking strip gardens were especially fine; that is where his project started, and I am sure eventually all the beds will be equally fine.
adorable details in B&B garden
That particular study weekend was organized quite differently from the other ones that I’ve attended. All the touring was on Friday and Sunday, and Saturday was devoted just to speakers and plant and book sales. If we left the convention area at all on Saturday I have no photos to prove it. I liked the plan; the weekend felt more relaxed than when we know we are going to rush off and tour each day. Somewhere, I have notes about the lectures (and every garden lecture I have taken back to the beginning of my time as a gardener). On Sunday, we resumed garden touring…and we found Sunday’s gardens far more exciting.
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