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Archive for July, 2011

At the last garden of the day, I was excited to see a garden bed with some collectible plants, something that I felt had been missing in all but the very first garden of the tour.

approaching last garden

approaching last garden

a collectible corner

a collectible corner

The corner contained a tiny pond or puddle surrounded by interesting plants.

puddle pond

puddle pond

As we went around the side of the house, I continued to be hopeful that at least we were in a collector’s garden.  I was also consumed with curiosity over whether or not the house was a double wide manufactured home that had been nicely clad in wood.  (I looked hard for evidence of a seam and I finally decided it was probably just a ranch style rambler.)  Having moved into one less than a year before, I wanted to find ones that were more cottagey and less manufactured looking.

around the side

around the side

We emerged from the side of the house not into more garden but into a landscape alongside a lake. This was the same lake, but a different garden, from where the tour ended last year, somewhere between Warrenton and Gearhart.

in the back

in the back

By the seating areas, magazines and an informative display of bad plants were laid out.

educational material

educational material

We walked down to the lake to look at a fenced vegetable patch…

veg patch by the lake

veg patch by the lake

On the way we passed a boggy pond garden in the lawn.

bog garden

bog garden

We were highly amused and delighted by the cat bridge.

cat bridge

little pond with cat bridge

little pond with cat bridge

down by the lake

down by the lake

a lakeside sit spot

a lakeside sit spot

This the first time we had been at the Astoria tour late enough to partake in the post tour reception, and a delicious feast it was.

delectable

delectable

We were in a crowd of many society members who knew each other, so we quietly sat and ate the yummy little treats.

garden party

garden party

Note all the garden hats!   In listening to the folks talking, I was moved as they spoke of missing the late Oregon garden writer Dulcy Mahar and of having toured her garden. Also, I had a revelation: I usually come away from the Astoria garden tour having wanted MORE. More plant collections, just more GARDENY gardens. The revelation was that this is put on by the historic preservation society. NOT by a bunch of plant nuts like the Hardy Plant Society. Thus the gardens vary in, well, garden ness. I don’t make negative comments about the ones I like less, because that seems mean. And there is almost always one or two “gardeny” gardens.  In the future I will not let my expectations be so high, so I will enjoy the tour more next year.

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For the sixth garden of the 2011 tour, we left the city and headed west to the outskirts of Warrenton and a sprawling country garden which had been in the same family for years.

a big country porch

a big country porch

porch with old shrubs

porch with climbing hydrangea

honeysuckle and roses

honeysuckle and roses

 

The porch was lovely although would have benefited from real rather than plastic flowers.

Off in the shrubbery that you can see to the upper right of the honeysuckle photo was, according to the programme, the gardeners’ take on a Japanese style garden.

this garden's take on Japanese style

this garden’s take on Japanese style

 

 

picket fence garden

picket fence garden

Around the back of the big house, an unpainted picket fence defined a flower garden.   I usually can’t abide scalloped edging (above right), but I like the way it makes an inversed curve at the corners of the paths.  Part of the picket fence garden is devoted to veg; I wonder why there does not seem to be a serious deer problem?

veg garden

veg garden

Most of the rest of the garden consisted of lawn and old trees, but here and there artful vignettes were placed.

orbs and a headless angel

orbs and a headless angel

In the other corner of the big back yard from the picket fence is a pond surrounded by a wrought iron fence.  One can comfortably view it from the shelter of a sit spot.

the pond

the pond

pond lantern

pond lantern

The back yard abounds in sit spots…

sit spots

sit spots

…including this pretty one inside the picket fence garden.

little sit spot

little sit spot

All around the garden meadows and trees surrounded the old homestead.

around the garden

around the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This garden, about a block up the steep hill from the Japanese style garden, was my favourite of the 2011 tour.  From the street, strong colours of foliage let me know we approached a tour garden even before we saw the sign.

sidewalk view

sidewalk view

The tour programme informed us that the owners incorporated found and recycled art material for art and structure throughout the garden.

front slope

front slope

A rabbit let us know that we needed to watch our step.  I sympathized with the worry of letting strangers into one’s garden because our own former garden had been so up and down that I had been anxious when opening it to the public.

path at top of slope

path at top of slope

south side path

south side path

path to sit spot

path to sit spot

sit spot...and view

sit spot…and view

looking back at the south side sit spot

looking back at the south side sit spot

recycled steppersThe sit spot on the south side of the house (left, above) would have been much nicer had the nieghbours not dropped a store-bought, tall playhouse right smack dab in the middle of the view, thought I.

The owners told us that the chunks of wood that made stepping stones around the southwest corner of the house came from an old local building or pier.

Throughout the back garden recycled materials were used to create garden art and whimsy.

In the back garden, steps led to an upper level which melded at the back into the trees of an old orchard.

back garden with heron

back garden with heron

back garden, upper level

back garden, upper level

upper level gate

upper level gate

back garden, lower level

back garden, lower level

a nice cat

a nice cat

(I published this entry, then went back to add their nice, friendly cat.  Because what nice cat does not deserve a moment of fame?)

old stove in the garden

old stove on the patio

looking back

looking back

We left on the north side of the house where wide concrete steps took us past a long dry creek bed.

I had enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of this multi leveled garden and could tell the owners spent many hours enjoying it.  Even without collectible plants to stop me in my tracks the garden kept my attention and I revisited several areas.  It reminded my of Nancy Goldman’s Nancyland in Portland, also a landscape of found objects.

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Just next door to previous the very low maintenance front garden, bright citrus coloured poppies welcomed us to an elaborate landscape.

poppies

poppies

The whimsically adorable garden showed a love of Japanese style.

front garden

front garden

From the sidewalk, one entered the garden through an arbour and over a small bridge.

arbour and bridge

arbour and bridge

The narrow back garden, considerably lower than the front, had been leveled and built by the retired couple and carried out their Japanese theme.

back garden

One of the gardeners had painted the back drop at the very center of the garden.

garden centerpiece

garden centerpiece

The other gardener had built all the gates, fences, arbours and bridges.

looking back

looking back

The ground dropped off steeply behind the south fence.  I was impressed that they had managed to carve out a garden here at all.

gate to steep drop off

gate to steep drop off

sit spot and west end of back garden

sit spot and west end of back garden

On the west side of the house, a steep staircase leading us back to street level was adorned with musical frogs.

frog stairway

frog stairway

At the lower entry to the west side access, and at the top of the stairs stood two more Asian themed gates.

lower corner

lower corner

top of stairs

top of stairs

How much I enjoy a garden that strongly reflects the likes of the owners!

This garden captured my interest so much more than the previous two and gave me an insight into the lives of the gardeners that is simply not presented by a low maintenance garden.

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Join us for the Astoria Garden Tour of 2011, put on by the Lower Columbia Preservation Society.  As often happens with flashbacks, I don’t recall the names of all the gardens.

garden one

garden one, entrance

garden one, entrance

We walked by this lovely, fragrant rose on our way around the west side of the house.

fragrant rose

fragrant rose

on west side of house, a sit spot

on west side of house, a sit spot

As soon as I entered the back yard and saw the wonderful raised bed on the patio, I realized I had been to this garden before on a previous Astoria tour.  This rock creation captured me completely then.  I still have never acquired enough very flat rocks or broken concrete pieces to make one for myself.

stacked stone raised bed

stacked stone raised bed

The height of the raised bed makes it perfect for observing plant details.  The man who built it was on site and told us the flat rocks were mortared together.  I had remembered it as being made with broken concrete but new examination showed that the material was rather expensive stone.

raised bed details

raised bed details

On the north side of the small back yard, overlooking a view of the Columbia river, two little sheds are connected with a covered deck where garden tourists could not resist the comfy chairs…or the animal cookies.

outdoor room

outdoor room

garden room reflection

garden room reflection

garden house detail

garden house detail

garden two

front and side yard of second garden

front and side yard of second garden

Here is a photo of the watering can feature, lower right above photo.

water can

water can

A walk toward the back yard revealed a peek through and then over the fence of an expansive view of the Columbia River and Astoria-Megler bridge.

the view

the view

The deck’s clear panels allowed a good sit down view.  I did not like to see all that ivy, though, and wanted to recommend noivyleague.com.

deck view

deck view

I remember the tour programme saying that the back garden was designed to express the gardener’s love of circle.

circles

circles

I wanted more garden and less lawn but….onward to the next garden…

We drove to a hill on the south slope of Astoria where three gardens were close together.  The first was described as low maintenance and was located in the flat front yard of a house on a steeo slope.

garden three

low maintenance

low maintenance

The areas was small and very low maintenance indeed.  However, the next two gardens offered much more and each will get its own entry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After visiting the magnificent Wakefield-Grossnickle garden we had one more stop to make, for which we barely had half an hour before tour day officially closed.  Just up Old Germantown Road is the Westwind Farm.  Up until just now reading their website, I thought it was a yoga place, but it appears to be a recording studio for new agey projects.

The garden  was designed by Laura Crockett, and Ann Lovejoy, and I think Beth Holland, all of whom I revere.  I admire it but it did not draw me in the way Laura’s own garden did; it is very much a public space and the parts of the garden we saw seemed focused on looking outward to the magnificent valley view.

Allan and I had been there after our July 2007 visit to the Wakefield-Grossnickle paradise.  At that time, Westwind was new and the one part I photographed looked like this:

July 2007

7 July 2007

Here is what it looked like on our visit on 26 June 2011:

26 June 2011

26 June 2011

To reach that vantage point, we had walked around the end of the pool…where weary garden tourists soothed their tired feet….

swimming pool with valley view

swimming pool with valley view..

We climbed these stairs…

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hillside garden

hillside garden

pond with waterfall

pond with waterfall

the view

the view

At the top of the slope, an area enclosed by deer fence which I examined closely because my own new garden, at that time, was still unenclosed.  Our plan was to fence our garden in the winter of 2011-12.

deer fence

deer fence

A gentler slope led back down to the parking area past grass mown and unmown, spangled with wildflowers.

lawn and meadow

lawn and meadow

Back in the parking lot, we are reminded that it is no fun being a dog on a garden tour.

bored now!

bored now!

Back to the dorms in Portland we went…where Sheila left for her home to the south and Allan arrived to fetch me and my many plant purchases.  We had been going to stay the night in the dorms and maybe go to a nursery the next day, but I had reached my limit with the discomfort, lack of reading light, and noise of the dorm room, so we went back to Ilwaco that night, arriving well after dark.  I was so glad to wake up at home, because not only were we behind on our gardening work, but I had a few humble new ideas that I wanted to incorporate into my new garden.

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At last we came to the Wakefield garden on Old Germantown Road.  One parks above and walks down a long steep driveway through a small gate (for humans) next to a big gate (for cars).  Here is our first glimpse of the garden:

entry driveway

entry driveway

I had been here four years ago…not during the Portland Study Weekend, because Sheila and I had decided this garden was too farflung for our itinerary; that particular year I was taking the Portland to Astoria bus back home.  Allan and I had driven inland to see the garden of Bruce Wakefield and Jerry Grossnickle about a month later on a special garden open day for HPSO members.

Many times since then I had remembered the patio at the back of the house with its round pool, tropical greenhouse and cunning rill of water.

the round pool

the round pool

patio wall and greenhouse

patio wall and greenhouse

The little rill of water goes around a curve…and spills into a small, deep pool.

the rill

the rill

spilling...

spilling…

...into a small, deep pool

…into a small, deep pool

The vine has grown in and covered the back of this deep, deep pool that catches the water from the patio rill. I could stand here for an hour looking at how small and deep the pool is.

patio wall

patio wall

Four years ago, behind the back wall of the little patio that contains the small…deep….mesmerizing pool stood a tall grove of Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’, gone now, perhaps in the same cold winter that took mine.  You can see it in a photograph in this article about the garden.

Sheila and I entered the main house to try some of the gardening couple’s famous cookies and to capture an overview of the garden from the deck of the living room.

view from house

view from house

The garden falls away down acres of hills.  We eventually made our way down to that lawn and looked back at the deck on which we had stood.

looking back

looking back

But I’m getting jumping ahead.  First, we went out to the patio again and down through stairs, paths, patios, and verdant plantings.

the stairs down from the little pond patio...

the stairs down from the little pond patio…

In the middle of the above photo you might be able to see the fun drinking fountain water feature.

drinking fountain

drinking fountain

The garden falls away from the house similar to the way that Bella Madrona does, becoming a bit wild on the lowest slope but all in all more perfectly maintained even at its furthest reaches.

down and down into the depths of the garden...

down and down into the depths of the garden…

Around every bend, surprises await….ponds, structures, secret sit spots and fabulous plants.

foliage, form

foliage, form

gazebo

gazebo

a centerpiece

a centerpiece

a sudden clearing

a sudden clearing

Lower down in the garden we found the magnificent large pond that I remembered from before.

big pond

big pond

pond bench

And a small one that I had forgotten…

small pond

small pond

Alliums are a favourite in the garden. and I am reminded of an annual I once loved and had forgotten about, the charteuse bells of Nicotiana langsdorfii.  (It proves too late to acquire any for 2011, but I go wild and crazy with them in all my gardens in 2012.)

Allium albopilosum

Allium albopilosum

stone edges, bench

stone edges, bench

How do two men with “real jobs” manage to maintain this garden so perfectly?

a rose arbour

a rose arbour

roundness and verticality

roundness and verticality

another view up to the deck

another view up to the deck

deck view with sculpture

deck view with sculpture

another view up...through assorted needles.

another view up…through assorted needles.

through an arbour

through an arbour

I had been going on about the greatness of this garden for four years and Sheila finally got to see it!

Sheila in the garden

Sheila in the garden

Sheila exploring

Sheila exploring

The gravel paths got a bit slippery where the paths were steeper because the garden had been open for two days, so she got well ahead of me (being a lot surer on her feet).  The garden offers many choices and is so large that the many people touring on that day could get lost from each other.

choices

choices

and more choices

and more choices

Every path led to more and more breathtaking scenes.

colour...

colour…

contrast

contrast…

stairs

stairs to a secret patio

surprises...

surprises…

foliage...

foliage…

and a river of poppies flowing down a steep hill

and a river of poppies flowing down a steep hill

Eventually all paths lead back to the climb up to the greenhouse patio.

back on up

back on up

We rentered the house to thank the owners for opening their garden and to take one last look around from above.

views from inside the house

views from inside the house

I am confirmed in this being the best garden I’ve ever seen.

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