Archive for Jun, 2011

I’d been to Jeffrey Bale’s garden four years earlier and was thrilled to get to return.  He has two brightly painted houses, is famed for his pebble mosaics, and has the most lovely grotto in his back yard.

intriguing detail by sidewalk

the house from the street

entry stairs from sidewalk

in the shady front garden

the two bright houses

walking between

mosaic path

exterior details

the other house

wall and water


in the back garden

Because of the clear warm day, the back yard oasis had carpets and pillows out, unlike four years ago when rain had prevented the layering of pillows and carpets.  (But the rain had made the pebble mosaics glisten wonderfully).

the grotto wall

I’ve noticed how many more vibrantly bright houses I see on tours in Portland or Seattle.  Perhaps the city has more creative house painters, or perhaps in a small town some are more worried about offending the eye of staider neighbours.  I appreciate anyone in a small town who indulges in bold colours.  Jeffrey Bale so kindly opened his house to the Hardy Plant members and the inside was just as luscious as the outside.

the back door

the kitchen

in the kitchen

kitchen cupboards

beautiful blue counter

The cabinets speak to me of India.

the living room

the bathroom…a floating world

a sumptuous bedroom

even the computer is decorated

Looking down into the garden; kitchen is to left.

I appreciate getting the chance to see into the heart of an artist’s life.  I haven’t followed through yet on the inspiration to paint our own kitchen, but I miss the intense colours I had in previous homes and intend to follow through eventually.

Also, I want to get this book!

Kitty by Jeffrey Bale

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Joanne Fuller and Linda Ernst gardens

Four years ago these two next door gardens were on the tour and I rhapsodized about how wonderful it would be to have such a neighbour and how it reminded me of the book Gardening from the Heart.  Some changes had been made to each garden.  I’m sure one of them had a new back yard water feature…

the sidewalk shared by the two gardens

first garden driveway

Tall Azara microphylla on corner of first house

I do hope my new Azara microphylla gets this tall.  The one in my old garden had gotten fairly tall and was just about to bloom when it fell over in a storm. (It blooms in late winter and indeed, the flowers smelled of vanilla; the opened just as the broken tree lay on the patio.)    When we moved to our new garden, I noticed that the old Azara stump had put out new leaves so perhaps it has come back for the new owner of that garden.

My favourite early bloomer was the Azara lanceolata that mysteriously died in that same garden and I have not yet managed to get me one of those.

in the first garden

side garden

the bright panels draw you in

colourful panels

a little fire spot

in the side garden

artful colour echoes

from the side yard….to the back yard patio. Mike Darcy on right, new water feature right, past the three square pavers.  Also: a table with treats.

beautiful water feature in first garden back yard

This called for many photos.

Jeffrey Bale Mosaic

In the second garden we’re treated to the sight of a mosaic by Portlander Jeffrey Bale.  (His own intricately mosaiced home and garden will be in the next journal entry.)

second garden, back yard

chair in second garden

second garden

chair and glass flowers

bright glass accents

shady porch, sunny garden

a water feature

path around side of house

At the front of the house, a seating area positioned on the roof of the garage overlooked the residential street.

the garage at street level; above it, the chairs and table

At street level and to the side of the seating area, opaque screens provided privacy while letting in the light.  I think these were made from shower doors, as we will see in one of the next days most spectacular tour gardens.

privacy screens

beautiful light capture

on the stairs to the sidewalk, the gift of a volunteer seedling

The neighbouring gardens are joined across the front yard as well as the back.

If my neighbour, who is in her 80s and no longer gardens, were still able I know that she would garden with me like this.

A very new garden

Next we did a quick walk through a garden that was very new.  Too new, I felt, to be on the tour.  I think that to Portland gardeners the designer might have been well known, and therefore her new work may have been of great interest, but to outsiders there was just not….enough.  (How carefully I choose my words so as not to hurt the feelings of the gardener who may chance upon this.  I am sure the garden is wonderful as I write this in spring of 2012!)

On the way into the garden: Cerinthe major purpurascens, one of my very favourite annuals.

The Portland neighbourhood

The Portland neighbourhood, however, provided many lovely vignettes on the way to the next garden.

a white flowering street tree…breathtaking…what is it?

And the houses of Portland are so lovely, so cheerfully painted and filled with such rich architectural detail.

lady in red


painted details

matching paint and foliage


handsome foursquare

Oh dear, garden touring is not much fun for dogs!

Next (as soon as I find time to write it; this catch-up project has gone into mid April and gardening season is upon us!): the unique, the colourful, the bright, the whimsical Jeffrey Bale garden!  [I ended up taking up this tale again many months later!]

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garden three

The third stop on the tour pleased us with its interpretive signs.

garden history

a classic bungalow

Down at the end of one of the parking strip gardens of the corner lot, I could see other tourists reading something.  It turned out to be a poetry pole.

poetry pole

poetry protected from weather

Euphorbias spilled over the wall as garden tourists walked back from reading the poem.

While the note at the top of this page apologized for having an area “stuffed with the ordinary”, I thought this parking strip garden looked wonderful with its run of cheerful daylilies.

parking strip

a grand entrance

The gardener kept bees, gentle ones….and we did get very close to the hive with no harm.


espaliered tree

a place to sit near water

As well as friendly and kind bees, the gardener kept chickens.  (If I had more free time, I would love to have chickens.  Oddly, Ilwaco does not allow chickens.  I don’t have time to petition the city council to change this, but I think someone should.)

chicken story


to the right: chickens...almost straight ahead, the garage...The bees are behind the woman, left.

garage story

beside the garage

Walking through the path between garage and house and next to the bees, we emerged on the sunny vegetable garden.

structured vegetable garden

On a sunny end of one of the parking strips, metal grid protected some plants.  Behind, you can see the view over a river.

parking strip

As we departed we noticed the next door neighbour had some good garden beds and wondered if their garden would expand and perhaps someday be on tour.

neighbouring garden

On the parking strip

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garden two (two in one)

The second home garden was brand new…had just had the finishing touches put on before tour day.  It was considerably more enjoyable than a few other too-new gardens I’ve seen on garden tours.  I’m glad they were ready to open it.  The tour stop included a neighbourly collaboration on a lot across the street .  Our eye was immediately drawn to it but we toured the house garden first.

across the street

The new garden

a well establish parking strip planting

We did not get the story of why this garden had been completely redone behind the house, when it was obvious from the parking strip garden that the home had been in a gardener’s hands for awhile.

On a steep slope  around the side of the house, netting held  the soil in descending garden beds.

looking down

at side of house

It interested us to see the garden at this stage before trailing plants (we supposed) grew down over the slopes.  I’d love to see it a year later.

I covet the metal art in the garden, especially that divider.

metal screen

Parts of the back garden were well established.  I imagine the yard remodel had something to do with adding water and dealing with the steep drop from front to back yard.

back garden trees

The garden’s tropical feel included a theme of round, reflective water.

water and roundness

Directly off the porch a big pool was, I think, made of a huge plastic tub with a naturalistic rock edge.

next to the porch

Just around to the side, other pools were definitely made from big tubs.  I liked them and thought it looked much better than having a pool liner.

tub ponds

Looking back as we climbed stairs on the other side of the house, I reflected on the program notes that the gardeners’ goal was partly to hide the industrial view.  I myself am partial to an industrial view so I appreciated the scenic backdrop.

industrial view...almost gone

looking down

I see now that I have to find me a big tub like that….insert at back of patio….put rocks around the edge, or, as it seems here, rope.  Yes.

leaving the garden

the front of the house

(I’m glad that smudge did not appear in the rest of my day’s photos.)

across the street

We crossed the street to come closer to the huge face at the top of the garden there, a collaboration between the homeowner whose garden we toured and another neighbour.

the face

a different angle


A metal nest echoed the garden across the street.

metal nest or basket...thing

Jeanne and Sheila

Sheila and I were fortunate again in having a local drive us for the first touring day.  Our friend from the Rainyside gardening forum lives in Portland and drove us in her Jeep (a sturdy vehicle in which I feel quite safe).  As with the 2010 weekend when Maggie drove us in north Seattle, it made Sheila’s day in particular much better to not have to drive in unfamiliar neighbourhoods.

As to the two gardens, as with a couple of other garden tour stops of previous years and the essay regarding neighbourly gardening in the book Gardening from the Heart: Why Gardeners Garden, I reflected on how gratifying it would be to have a neighbour with shared garden space and a shared love for the pastime.

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Now at last for the garden touring.  I’m writing this in April 2012, can’t lay my hands on the print out for the tour gardens (why is it not in my tour garden file folder??) and so I cannot name all of the gardens.

Garden One, somewhere in Portland

The first garden had a driveway with plants down the middle, reminiscent of the amazing driveway planting at 2010’s Huson garden in Ruston.  I want to take a jackhammer to our little driveway and do this, but Allan does not seem thrilled with the idea.  It WOULD work.  Oh, he just told me there is such a thing as a cement cutter.  Must find out who has one!


Perhaps they are all pondering how to achieve this.

I loved the colour of the house itself.  In the cities of Portland and Seattle (and, of course, San Francisco with its painted ladies) one sees more colourful houses, and I wish there were more in our town.


Gold foliage pops against the hot pink!

garden tourists perusing the garden description

birdbath detail

We liked the handsome open metal trellis fence....

...and the metal art through the entire garden.

I am a big fan of putting decor on fences and the exterior walls of one’s house.  It’s harder with our old double wide, as one cannot “puncture the seal”, but I have ideas….

the fence

non windowbox

fence art

front garden path


Coming round the corner into the back yard, I was reminded of a plant I coveted, acquired, and then killed in my too-shady and damp (with poor drainage) former garden.  Perhaps in my new garden it would succeed.

The back garden’s patio and little stream charmed me but as a fan of little boardwalks I loved the one person walk that led into a dense shrubbery.

back yard scenes

I wish I knew who the gardener was so I could give proper credit for how pleasing it was.

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On Friday evening of the 2011 Study Weekend, Sheila and I attended the opening lecture by Nan Sinton, “garden designer, garden travel consultant, horticultural educator, writer, former director of public programs for Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, and, from 1992 -2008, director of programs for Horticulture magazine”.  But first: The plant sale room opened and we made our initial purchases.

plant sale room

I bought this and am watching it anxiously outside my front windows:  Has it survived?  Is it late to leaf out?

Has it survived???

I just took a look at it from my window and there are slight swellings on the stems that might be buds.

informative tag

in the classroom

classroom plant stash

Collectors nurseries from Washington and Oregon set up tables in the small, crowded room and throngs of plant nuts politely squeezed past each other in a buying frenzy, going round and round, reading all the tags.  There was NO holding area for plants at the 2011 weekend.  The previous year in Bellevue, the holding area had not worked out well for Sheila because a very expensive and rare tree had been stolen from her purchases.  Perhaps such shocking events had repercussions; at any rate, we had to schlep all our plant purchases up a long gently sloping hill….which did not even seem like much of a hill until one walked it with a heavy flat of plants….to the horrible summerhousing dorm room.  (I forgot to mention in my previous post that on the first night, the key card they gave me for the front door did not work and I spent an hour fussing about with it and thinking I was just electronically incompetent!  It was not a swiped card; you held it up to a sensor and then the door would open.  Not.  Of the replacement key cards given to us, two out of three worked….The problem was so pervasive that after we walked the two blocks to find the manager, she gave us extras just in case.)  So…up the hill we plodded with our plants.  Upon reaching the dorm, we had to set down the plant trays for the key card procedure at the front door and again at the elevator which required the key card to be held to the sensor before it would start.  We bought so many plants that the dorm room started to look like a nursery with plants lined between our beds trying to get some light from the window.  (Sheila, do you have a photo of this?  I could have sworn I had one!)

My method of transport involved looking ahead half a block and scoping out a place where I might set down my plant tray, catch my breath, and wait for my pounding heart to slow down:  a bench, a café table, a low wall….Then walking as fast as I could till I could set the flat down and pant….then moving on to the next stage.   The first load was in a cardboard flat which slowly collapsed under the plants and just barely held together till the end.  I borrowed a plastic flat for the rest of the trips.  Thus the plant sale was filled with both joy and extremely hard work (and I know hard work, so I’m not exaggerating).  I saw Mike Darcy, he of the late lamented “In the Garden” Portland tv show, with a wheeled pull car heading off to the nice hotel….the nice hotel that was NOT uphill and where we will definitely stay next time!  (I miss Mike Darcy’s telly show so very much.  It introduced me to many cool plants, among them the tree dahlia and Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’.)

under seminar chair

At all the weekend lectures, attendees had their purchases stashed in corners and under chairs of the big seminar room.  (And the lectures, by the way, included the always scintillating Lucy Hardiman and, to my great joy, Thomas Hobbs, author of my very favourite eye candy gardening book, Shocking Beauty, and a huge influence on my plant lust.)

I always take extensive lecture notes…Piles of notebooks on one of my gardening bookshelves go back to Seattle garden shows in the 90s.  That would make a good winter blogging project:  going through them all and gleaning the best bon mots of all the wonderful lectures I’ve heard over the years (Helen Dillon, Rosemary Verey, Dan Hinkley, Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, and more.)  But at the moment I cannot lay my hands on my 2011 notebook to add some sort of great saying by Thomas Hobbs or Fergus Garrett to close out this particular entry!

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22 June….After Allan and I had shopped at Joy Creek and Cistus nurseries, our entry into Portland, “The Rose City”,  terrified me because of my intensifying city traffic phobia.  I tried to focus my mind and camera on the beautiful roses along the freeway.

It must be a challenge to maintain the roses along the freeway!

near PSU

big city view near the dorms

Larb Gai at Thai Restaurant…scrumptious.

In the neighbourhood around Portland State University, the city campus hosting the study weekend, I was charmed by the name of this café after checking in to the rather horrible “summer housing” dorm where Sheila and I stayed.  (For three nights we were unable, after walking to another building and trying to find the dorm manager, to get her to find us a second reading lamp for our dark room with no overhead lighting…unlike the Cannon Beach Sea Sprite Lodging where the manager gave us her own reading lamp.  The ineffectual slatted blinds did not keep bright exterior lights out of the room, and construction started outside at 5 AM, contrary to city noise rules.  We stayed there because I had had the nuttiest vision of the dorms.  The first year (four years before) of attending the study weekend in Portland (it rotates: Portland>Eugene>British Columbia>Seattle) I pictured the dorms as being the fun place.  Illogically, I imagined Portland celebrity gardener Lucy Hardiman hanging out in a jolly dorm with that year’s keynote speaker Dan Hinkley and all the other speakers.  How crazy was that?  Lucy has a perfectly lovely Portland house and there is no way important guests would be housed in the austere and horribly uncomfortable dorms.  I longed for the plushy hotel where we had stayed in 2007 even though I usually prefer rustic eccentricity to plushness!

As soon as Sheila arrived we had delicious Thai food at a nearby restaurant.  I worried a bit the whole time about how embarrassing it was going to be to have to hang on to the doorway at the top of the railing-less stairs to the old home housing the restaurant.  It is tough being an older woman with vertigo!  But I managed to descend with embarrassing myself in front of fit young college students.  Perhaps I should retitle this blog “Tales of a Phobic Gardener”.  (Other related phobias:  Would I live for the four or five months between registration and the much anticipated Fergus Garrett workshop or would I die first?  What if I got ill like at the 2010 study weekend? How would I get across town Friday morning to the building where the workshop would be held?  Since surely some people came to the weekend via plane or train, I might not have been the only one startled that the Thursday event was fairly far from the university, but Sheila came to join me the night before so that problem did not actually arise.  As Mark Twain(?) said, proof that worrying works is that most things we worry about to not happen.)

Fergus Garrett lecturing to a rapt audience of hortheads

23 June  I had logged on to the HPSO website the day registration opened in February and managed to get Sheila and I spots in the very small group for the Fergus Garrett workshop.

The workshop did sell out and a second one was added on Friday.    (Click here for a blog with a good description of a lecture similar to what we heard.  We got a day’s worth of slides and stories and witty British talk about Christopher Lloyd and Great Dixter.)  The Fergus workshop was a peak gardening experience.

During our lunch break we all trooped down a few blocks to a food court in the fascinating Sellwood neighbourhood.

a house near the workshop venue

near the workshop venue….one way to get privacy

approaching the lunch carts

flowers on the lunch cart

cat in an antique store along our walk

Sellwood shop

desirable objects

Sellwood neighbourhood

Sellwood bookstore

the famous Mr. Garrett walking past a Sellwood antique shop

garden art shop

That particular shop had so much unusual garden art that I could have bought lots had I the funds and a U Haul to get it home.

fabulous Sellwood garden art shop

After the workshop and before dinner (at a yummy Mexican restaurant healthy fast food chain with which Sheila was familiar), we went…plant shopping (surprise!) at Portland Nursery.

Sheila checks out the curbside gardens.

curbside gardens

curbside gardens

curbside gardens

roofline at Portland Nursery on Stark

Portland Nursery

We bought just a few plants each because we were saving our space and budget for the study weekend’s plant sales room.  I almost bought a Nicotiana langsdorfii, a wonderful annual I used to grow and forgotten about, but didn’t…and later regretted that so deeply when I saw a beautiful specimen in a tour garden!

Friday we attended a plant propagation workshop instead of touring gardens.  (Sheila, I managed to kill all but one hydrangea and one fuchsia start by not misting them enough…but it was worth it for what I learned for maybe later when I retire (?).)   Saturday we got back to my big study weekend experience: the garden tours.

I’m sorry I missed so many study weekends over the years.  The name of the event had me thinking of a group of dedicated gardeners sitting around actually studying and reporting on a chosen plant….little knowing that instead the weekends consist of celebrity lecturers (the rock stars of the garden world) and touring incredible private gardens.

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the driveway in early summer

On the way to the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend in Portland we stopped at Joy Creek and Cistus.  I had not really intended to buy a lot of plants but had mostly sought the opportunity to see the display gardens in summer.



The difference is, as with all intricately planted gardens, astounding from when we saw the same view in late April and early May.

feline staff member


display garden

display garden with Macleaya cordata

lilies not quite in bloom

display garden

the new path closed in

The new path that we had walked through six or seven weeks before had started to close in and would quite possible disappear by mid summer.

background: Allan. left: Sean's dog. center: the famous plantsman Sean Hogan, Cistus owner

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' for sale

Whatever it may be, I want it.

display garden

the shop dog

the sales desk cat...what a life of attention!

loading the car

This time I got a respectable amount of plants.  If only I did not have to take luggage to the study weekend, we could have fit in even more!

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At just the brink of summer, Allan and I drove to Portland so that I could join Sheila for an exciting Hardy Plant Society Study weekend (commencing with an all day workshop by the famed Fergus Garret, right hand man of Christopher Lloyd).  On the way we stopped at Joy Creek and Cistus nurseries and filled the car with plants which Allan would bring back to our new garden.  It is rare for me to get to see the joys of early summer at these nurseries as we usually visit around the first days of May.  What a difference seven weeks makes!

gravel path

approaching the lawn

the little lawn


a stunning shrubby Clematis

the sculpture screen

Rosa moyesii 'Geranium'; Reader, I bought one.

the amazing, enormous, wind-resistant English delphiniums

English delphiniums

wind resistant, not wind proof

the delphinium patch

as tall as Allan (5'8ish) and by the way, this is a windy site.

pruned bamboo

an Eryngium, my favourite perennial

verdant summer border

Sculptures which stood bare in spring are now surrounded.


pink astrantia

summer rose

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