Saturday, 16 July 2016
garden five: “The Art of Taming a Hillside”
We got a taste of how much the hillside needed to be tamed as we approached this garden up a very steep narrow road, met at the top by other vehicles that had not been able to find parking and wanted to come down. There was just one panicky scream from the passenger seat as we backed down the long narrow slope and found a parking spot two blocks away (and a slightly less steep incline to walk up).
Because I have recently decided not to use surnames in describing most gardens (for privacy reasons), this particular program description looks a bit funny after retouching:
It was not until I began writing this post that I saw the mobility issues warning in the garden description. I find it so difficult to focus on garden descriptions the day of a tour that I completely missed it. My reading comprehension suffers because of eagerness to get into the garden. (That’s why I think it is helpful to have a Facebook page or a newspaper article with descriptions and warnings…even maybe locations of nearest restrooms!…to peruse in advance of a tour, to help with planning one’s day.)
To anyone just joining this blog: I have a collapsed knee (which will be dealt with this winter) and some dizziness and balance issues AND acrophobia. I will work through all of these to see a worthwhile garden and a warning, even if seen, would not have stopped me from trying.
my journey through the amazing hillside garden
I needed to find a way UP that I was pretty sure I could also use to get back DOWN.
I was astounded to see the brilliant way that the gardeners had solved the problem of an almost vertical hillside. If only I had thought of this for the vertical clay hill that sat next to the front patio of my old garden—a planting problem that daunted me for 14 years.
Steve, the garden owner, stood nearby as I paced back and forth, marveling. “HOW?” I asked him. He told me he had driven rebar 8 feet (I think) into the hardpan to support this structure.
I decides I had better figure out how in the world I was going to get back down to the street. Maybe I could find a better way than the bark slope. It was worrying me.
I decided I would go back down the bark-y slope…eventually. Meanwhile, I went back to the amazing hillside planters.
I admired every detail, also postponing the inevitable trip back down the lower barky slope. But then…Allan appeared and told me there was an alley up above! Similar to the previous garden, I had a way out other than going back down.I found out that the upper deck ALSO had a gate to the alley. The owner had told Allan that’s how they bring in their groceries. Thinking about it, it would be a long grocery carry from the bottom, over the lower bridges and up the stairs. I think I would have explored the many beds of the central plateau better if I had known I had an easy way out. Now I would like to go back and peruse the plants more thoroughly.
I crossed the bridge to the house again, climbed some enclosed stairs with a nice railing, and emerged onto the back deck.
From the alley, I found the exterior gate that led to that mysterious path WAY above the wooden planters.
The stream from the spring went underneath the alley. (I’ve since learned this is a one way city street, not an alley.)
Usually, I blend Allan’s and my photos together to describe a garden, even though we often walk through at a different pace and direction. This particular garden was so complex and interesting and challenging to describe that I am going to let Allan’s photos tell their own story about his experience of the hillside.
Allan’s exploration of the astonishing hillside garden
This was one of the most fascinating gardens I have ever seen, with good plant diversity, artistry, and impressive engineering skills. I have been thinking about it a lot since tour day and am so glad I managed to see it (and also that Allan filled in with photos of the areas I did not attain). Every stone, paver, plant, and cubic foot of mulch had to be brought in up or down stairs.
Having now visited five out of eight, I continued to marvel at how perfectly groomed they all were for tour day: No weedy bits around the edges, every plant deadheaded and dead-leafed (any unsightly leaf removed). This is what I hope for from a garden tour.
Next: One of my favourite finds on a garden tour: gardening neighbours.