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Archive for the ‘2011 garden journal flashbacks’ Category

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…

299813_10150314468503851_1836249707_n

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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After reluctantly, but of necessity, leaving Laura Crockett’s garden, we drove and drove…and drove…to get to the next garden at an alpaca ranch.  We arrived to a large gathering which appeared to be some sort of family party.

Sheila (left) approaches the grand house.

Sheila (left) approaches the grand house.

deck, patio, green paths

deck, patio, green paths

Although the paths through the garden were wide, green, and mowed, the grass was strangely long and to both of us the footing felt a bit unsure with unexpected mini-potholes.  We did not go on the walk into the woods, because no mystery lured us there, nor did we walk down the the grand waterfall.  The afternoon had left us not as much time as we wanted to get to the next garden, one that I knew would be a favourite of Sheila’s.

view to the woodland

view to the woodland

waterfall view

waterfall view

a grand waterfall

a grand waterfall

beside the big house

beside the big house

Coming around the side of the house, we could see a smaller building which, according to the tour programme,  promised to be “Cattery Cottage”.

a glimpse of the cottage

a glimpse of the cottage

The tidy and perfect gardens along the way:

well groomed garden rooms

well groomed gardens

magnificent delphiniums

magnificent delphiniums

well groomed hedges

boxwoods

Cattery Cottage and its own smaller garden were more my size.

Cattery Cottage

Cattery Cottage

and its windowbox

and its windowbox

Inside, the cottage greatly appealed to me.  (I would have to have bookcases and, assuredly and/or regrettably, more clutter.)

inside Cattery Cottage

inside Cattery Cottage

On the way back to the car, we got to see the alpacas.

alpacas and bench

alpacas and bench

Somehow, I had made it through over fifty years without ever seeing (or not noticing) alpacas, and the smiley faced babies were adorable.

cute!!

cute!!

My excitement was mounting because soon we would be at the Wakefield garden on Old Germantown Road , and I knew that Sheila would be gaga over the place.

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Sheila and I,  inspired by Laura Crockett’s lecture during study weekend, looked forward to touring her garden.  It more than lived up to our expectations, full of some of the best ideas I’ve ever seen. Her website is gardendiva.com, her wonderful slogan is “I dwell in your possibilities”. Her sidewalk gardens alone would have been worth the drive.  As you look at her front garden, think of the lot next door, below, which was the same size, and empty.

next door

next door

Meanwhile, in Laura’s front garden….

sidewalk gardens

sidewalk gardens

As we had seen in her lecture, she used repurposed shower doors as garden dividers.  From outside the garden, the glass and metal allowed tantalizing glimpses.  I can’t even imagine where to find someone to fabricate structures like this, but maybe to a metal shop it would not be as daunting as it looks to me.

repurposed shower door

repurposed shower door

view from outside

shower glass walls

from the sidewalk

from the sidewalk

entrance

entrance

Eventually, we managed to leave the excellent sidewalk gardens and pass through the arbour.  Within the translucent walls, a still pond had a geometric metal bridge.

metal bridge

metal bridge

sturdy for walking...

sturdy for walking…

..and very handsome indeed.

..and very handsome indeed.

Laura herself

Laura herself

We found a friendly garden cat…

garden cat

garden cat

…and small details everywhere.

container

At one side of the house, a glorious wall and door combo provided great entertainment as we all tried to get photos showing how it worked.

side wall and gate

side wall and gate

fascination

fascination

One of our fellow tourists, the woman to the lower left, was particularly impressed because she had some physical disabilities and was still able to move the gate with ease.  When we were not sliding the gate back and forth, we were closely examining the details.

details

details

Finally we made it through the gate and into the back garden.  Brightly painted panels and more shower doors divided the garden into rooms.  First we came upon a series of garden rooms that would be perfect for an evening party.

driftwood bench on a spring

driftwood bench on a spring

areas for entertaining

areas for entertaining

gambion bench

gambion bench

and another gambion bench

and another gambion bench

quilt display

quilt display

sculpture

sculpture

an elegant room

an elegant room

Laura had described in her lecture how her garden was divided into areas for children’s play, grown up parties, and the practical matter of growing vegetables.  Playfulness spills over into every area; in the productive and organized produce garden we realized that the back wall had come out of a school restroom.

raised beds...

raised beds….

upcycled back garden wall

upcycled back garden wall

Over the top of the veg garden, our eyes were drawn by a bright blue beach umbrella.

view to another room

view to another room

Moving on, we found it easy to tell when we were entering the designated play area.

playroom

playroom

playtime

playtime

playground

playground

Nearby, more elegant grown up seating provided a view of the children’s paradise.

sit spot

sit spot with playroom view

Still more artful vignettes were tucked in against the house.

against the house

against the house

At last we came to the end at the far side of the house:  one more room devoted to the happiness and safety of cats.

cat room

cat room

Here we had to turn back the way we came, which meant more wandering through the garden and more lovely surprises.  This was a place we could have stayed all day had we not three more far flung gardens to see.

another artful display

another artful display

another tiny clearing

another tiny clearing

The garden is so rich in detail that I just knew I was missing something by having to leave.

 

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Sunday midmorning we were off to see more gardens in suburbs to the west of Portland.  Our driving friend had other plans, so poor Sheila had to put up with my auto anxiety as we toured.  Thank goodness for the Garmin.

The first garden we visited, the garden of Dan Partin and Lisa Wence, is well known to Portland garden aficionados.  I had seen its early days on a Mike Darcy “In the Garden” tv show.  (How I loved and miss that programme.)    Its location was very close to a busy street.

garden with cars whizzing by

garden with cars whizzing by

sidewalk

sidewalk views of garden

The front garden paths lead around sculptures representing earth, water, fire and air.

four elements

four elements

The fellow in the kilt (bottom left) is, I believe, sculptor Dan Partin.  Could he have been inspired by the Incredible String Band lyrics that begin to sing in my mind when I think about this garden?

Earth, water, fire and air,

Met together in a garden fair,

Put in a basket bound with skin.

If you answer this riddle, you’ll never begin.

After considerable admiration of the famed four elements sculptures, and a conversation with their creator about how much we missed Mike Darcy’s show, Sheila and I walked toward the back yard .

a sit spot

a sit spot

toward the back

wending our way to the back

gate to back yard

gate to back yard

The lovely gate of angled wood and rebar swirls stopped everyone to admire, covet, and plan.

The back yard was not so much a horticultural garden as a play area with whimsical and spiritual touches.

playhouse

backyard playhouse

Two shrines revealed a further connection between gardening and the spirit.

shrine with incense

shrine with incense

Mother Mary shrine

steampunk? Mother Mary shrine

One shrine smoked with fragrant incense.  Another was a steampunkish homage to mother Mary. On the way out the other side of the garden, we found a lovely shrine to art itself.

to art itself

to art itself

The gardeners’ friends tended a welcome fire in front of the house.  We imagined that the Four Elements garden is probably the setting for outdoor parties.

dragon fire

dragon fire

After a bit more lingering to admire the swoopy edges of the sidewalk garden, we were off to the garden of Laura Crockett.

sidewalk garden

sidewalk garden

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entering Bella Madrona

For The Saturday evening soiree we took a charter bus to Bella Madrona, a large magical garden near Portland. It was like a fairy tale wandering through the garden in the evening light with delicious food and drink was laid out in several locations, even some surprising spots as one strolled through the garden paths and came upon a table of desserts.  Anxious to have enough time to take photos, because I knew from a previous visit (in 2005 or 2006) that the garden is very large,  I did not linger for long with the food.

what lovely settings for a feast

dining at Bella Madrona

sylvan dining

All round the main dining areas could be found charming garden vignettes, but I knew I had to take many paths through the landscape.  Sheila and I had been here before during a garden tour weekend arranged by Rainyside Gardeners, but never at this perfect time of evening.  So let’s leave the feast behind and go exploring throughout the amazing landscape.

near the dining areas

the garden beckons…

I approach a patio…

…and find that it is made of bottles.

…arboreal creatures lurk…

and strange shapes emerge from the hedges….

glimpses

a mysterious dark little pool

onward

The path I choose leads on to an area of conifers, boulders, moss.

I take a path out of the rock and conifer garden…

…onto a grand promenade…

columns

…and come upon people eating delicious chocolate desserts.

a sit spot on which I did not linger with chocolate

Twilight is beginning to accentuate shades of blue.

Some who explored from the other direction are returning from the meadow below.

A sign awaits messages to our hosts.

Woods give way to mown meadow paths….

Meadows lead to an enchanting bog.

Apparently, caution is advisable.

the boggy pond

Near the bog, sculptures and chairs appear in the tall grasses.

into the woods

After that adventure, I return to the uphill side of the bog.

bogside seating

As night approaches, it is time to find a grassy path leading uphill…before it’s too late.

…no time to sit and contemplate…

A rustic path appears…

…I look back down on the glorious bog…

and am soon very glad I’m ascending rather than descending these stairs.

(I get dizzy on steep slopes so am fortunately that I chose just the right circuit for me to make around the garden.)

A path with beautifully woven edging leads further up…

I have returned to the beautifully lit guesthouse…

and there’s Fergus Garrett!

and the lights of civilization.

guest house porch

seating nooks

(I must not get out much, because I was thrilled by the tiki torches.)

path detail

so beautiful in the gathering dusk

looking back to the guest house

Ascending levels take me back to the dining terraces.

People still linger on the terrace.

Sheila had been with me on part of the tour but we had become separated sometimes on the many paths.  We determine to check out the other side of the main house during the time remaining before departure of the charter bus.  I feel invigorated because she found a me one of the few remaining desserts.

A path around one side of the main house.

We pass this structure…

and find the path of the blue bottle tree…

front walkway

We examine the famous entry sidewalk to the house that from the street that got replanted as a garden bed (and was pcitured in magazines and garden show slideshows).  While it seems to no longer be a focal point, it was the first thing I ever heard about this garden, along with the story that a part of the garden used to have an overview of a cluster of gazing balls with a plaque that read “You’re not in Kansas anymore.”  If that bit is still there, I have not found it on either of my visits.  Or did I…that first time…or am I just dreaming a memory from the photos I saw?

the front gate and the front of the house

We return to the back of the house (now the main entrance) and have a few more minutes to explore vignettes of the garden before the bus leaves.

As we leave, choosing the second to last bus because tomorrow will be a long day of touring and we know sleep will be scarce in our rather uncomfortable dorm room, we turn for a last look.

Bella Madrona

Oh for a whole day to spend here, or perhaps to just move in.  Photos cannot capture the garden’s fragrance, or the cool music played on speakers on the upper terraces.  (I remember a deep voice singing “You’ve got to dig deep”, and have not been able to find out what song it was.)  The splashing of water guided us to the water features and a chorus of evening birds led us out of the gate at the end.

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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

detail

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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