Monday, 21 April 2014
We returned to Stephen and John’s glorious garden, which I had last seen with Garden Tour Nancy in September, this time to see the rhododendrons in bloom. Allan and I were first to arrive at 4:30, soon joined by Garden Tour Nancy and Phil and a bit later by Pam and Kathy from Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart. Stephen and John are regular shoppers at that excellent little nursery.
As we waited for Pam and Kathy to arrive (who had the longest drive by far and were delivering a Japanese maple), we admired the assorted views from the living room. I am always a little hesitant to take lots of photos inside a home which is not officially on a home tour, but here are some hints (with permission):
Oh, and look, a book by local writer and daily blogger Sydney Stevens.
The garden will be one of seven or eight on the Peninsula Garden Tour, Music in the Gardens, on July 19th. The musician will probably be sitting on the patio shown above.
And then…Pam and Kathy arrived and we soon walked out in the soft light to tour the garden. I took copious notes, first on my phone (with many comical results by autospell like a “blow dry” rather than loderi rhododendron) and then scribbled on notecards. I do hope I will be able to decipher them and get the right plant names on the many photos.
Intense fragrance in the air came from a huge rhododendron to the north, the same one we had seen from the north window. I had no idea that rhododendrons ever had that intoxicating a scent. Stephen and John’s garden and the property just to the north of it were originally part of Clarke Nursery, and the rhododendron collection goes back many years. It is a beautiful thing that two knowledgeable rhodo fanciers bought this property.
The swoonworthy sweet fragrance made it hard to move on!
We then all went round the north side of the house to the bay. Next door is the former Clarke Nursery home, and its garden will also be on the garden tour.
As we strolled, flocks of birds swooped just above the water of the bay.
Last time we visited, they wondered how to make a good walkway around the south corner of the house. Over the winter, local landscaper Steve Clarke, whose family once owned this property, built this perfect solution. I wish I had that sort of hardscaping skill.
Pam did not have her camera and particularly asked for photos of certain plants which caught her eye. This little conifer, whose name I did not write down, was one.
Next to three railroad tie steps going down, a Polemonium had popped up on all its own. I am sure it is ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which is perfect as from below those simple risers lead toward the house.
Pam commented that a kiwi with nothing to climb on will tend to stay smaller and not clamber all over.
When asked what we do about the rampant native groundcover, I had no solution but to live with it. It does go dormant later in the year after going through a rather annoying yellowing off stage.
When the driveway was put in after Stephen and John bought the house, the builders wanted to remove the Thuja. No indeed, the driveway curves around it.
To our south, while clearing the woods of salal (I applaud that!!) and alders, Stephen and John revealed a tall grove of species rhododendrons so old that even Steve Clarke could not identify them.
Next, in one of the open bays in the woods along the side of the drive, a bright hydrangea caught my eye.
When they joined the Rhododendron Society of Portland, Stephen and John were given a rhododendron as a gift, and they chose this one:
Pam was interested to see the Lindera (spicebush) which had just leafed out.
As we came to the Thuja by the driveway, I thought that its bright skirt of foliage was a shrub planted underneath.
To our south, another bay in the woods held a Cryptomeria grove. I kept asking what conifer each little tree was and only a bit later did I realize how little I had grasped that it was indeed a Cryptomeria grove and that they were all Cryptomerias!
From the Xera catalog: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Auricariodes’ Zn6a (-10º to -5ºF) Cupressaceae
“Fantastic, exotic looking conifer with rope-like branches that are sparse and twisty when young but become denser with age. To 10′ tall and forming a conical shape over time. Grows slowly in youth, picks up steam after several years. Full sun to light shade in WELL DRAINED soil, with regular summer water. Excellent specimen tree, well behaved. Always looks cool. Coldy hardy. Old selection of Japanese Cedar. Monkey Puzzle in miniature. “
I’m pretty good at going through a garden and identifying shrubs and perennials but am sadly lacking in knowledge of conifers. A garden like this makes me want to change that.
On the other side of the driveway lies the big, still pond, which used to provide irrigation for Clarke Nursery.
Stephen and John are making a new garden bed on the north side of the pond.
And then…into the house where we were given martinis…
and some amazingly delicious hors d’oeuvres.
After a martini, I was incapable to remember to photograph the caramelized onion and cheese on toast most delicious snacks I’ve had…or the friends having conversations about plants and books and architecture. I do remember that earlier in the garden tour, Nancy said that a certain book, one that was fun and easy to read, was like “butter” and I loved that.
Thanks, Stephen and John, for including us in the soirée, and I hope you’ll let me know if I have any plant names wrong. I believe your garden is going to be the best on the tour this year.