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from the program: This pocket-size townhouse garden was created by the late Peggy Miles and continues to thrive in her memory with tending by her husband Gene. The front porch abounds with the charm and beauty of colorful hanging baskets and potted plants. Narrow beds surrounding the house are planted with deer-resistant plants. The jewel of this garden is the tucked-away courtyard in back, filled with a bold composition of shade plants and well-chosen ground covers placed in crevices between pavers and river rocks. At the end of the courtyard is Gene’s upcycled pallet composter and a chiminea-seating area.

The first garden we visited on tour day…after getting a bit of a late start so our friends could visit the Port of Ilwaco Saturday Market…was the Peggy Miles Memorial garden. We had been working on it since Peggy’s husband had asked for our help a couple of months before, but most of the gardening preparaton for the tour was his, on the foundation of the garden that he and Peggy made together.

the garden viewed from the street, previous day

the garden viewed from the street, previous day

on tour day

on tour day

Gene had set up, by his garage, photo boards showing the progress of the garden along with pictures of his late wife, Peggy, who had died of ovarian cancer in the spring of 2013.

photos

more

the story of the garden

the story of the garden

Peggy Taylor Miles

Peggy Taylor Miles

Gene's beautiful eulogy

Gene’s beautiful eulogy

I am sure my friend Sheila was not the only one who wept when reading the story of the garden.

Later in the day, Gene brought out delicious snacks and served wine; we were north touring other gardens by then, so I am borrowing a photo taken by Peggy’s daughter:

photo by Annalisa Taylor Smith

photo by Annalisa Taylor Smith

Gene told us later that he served to tour guests the first batch of wine and brought out more from his personal cellar! The little caprese pizzas were a hit.

Shelley Loring was the musican at the Miles garden.

Shelley Loring was the musician at the Miles garden.

storyboards, tent, music, in the garage driveway

storyboards, tent, music, in the garage driveway

Next to this display, the front porch overflowed with beautiful containers that Gene had planted, along with hanging baskets from The Basket Case Greenhouse.

 Annalisa Taylor Smith got a good shot of how the porch relates to the garage entrance.

Annalisa Taylor Smith got a good shot of how the porch relates to the garage entrance.

front porch

front porch

porch banner

porch banner

I love the way that Gene has containers lined up all along the driveway line between his and the neighbouring townhouse.

Gene talking to tour guests by the streetside garden.

Gene talking to tour guests by the streetside garden.

The main thing we did to help Gene prepare was to choose plants to go in the streetside garden which was new and had only spring bulbs in it when we started, except for a big beautiful lavender at the far corner.

streetside garden

streetside garden

tour guests

tour guests

You can see, above, the big lavender encircling the lamp post.

As always, folks wanted to know the name of the painted sage (Salvia viridis).

As always, folks wanted to know the name of the painted sage (Salvia viridis).

Everyone loved the sweet little garden in the drainage spot by the road, planted up by Gene with absolutely no help from us and just adorable!

a miniature garden

a miniature garden

looking from the tiny garden to the townhouse garden (across entry drive)

looking from the tiny garden to the townhouse garden (across entry drive)

Our friend Kathleen Sayce took this photo from the lavender corner of the driveway, looking toward the porch.

Our friend Kathleen Sayce took this photo from the lavender corner of the driveway, looking toward the porch.

two plants by the house, planted by Gene: a salpiglossis and a ??

two plants by the house, planted by Gene: a salpiglossis and a ??

These photos, taken the day before the tour, show the two narrow beds running along the house and street.

Gene plans to make the bed next to the house curvier.

Gene plans to make the bed next to the house curvier to echo the outer bed.

at the east end of the garden, a box planted with edibles.

at the east end of the garden, a box planted with edibles, and a potato cage (left)

Just next to that wire cage planted with spuds is the gate to the beautiful little sheltered courtyard. Our friend Kathleen Shaw took a good photo showing the entry to the courtyard:

daylily at SE corner of house by courtyard gate

daylily at SE corner of house by courtyard gate

through the open gate

through the open gate

the courtyard on tour day

(Above) The medley of groundcovers and shade plants was designed by Peggy with the addition of baskets and, on the left, a new area planted by Gene in the early summer.

photo by Kathleen Sayce

photo by Kathleen Sayce

pavers and river rock

pavers and river rock

On the back wall of the courtyard sits a composter that Gene built from old pallets.

Gene's compost bin

Gene’s compost bin

looking south from the courtyard...one of the prettiest green gardens.

looking south from the courtyard…such a pretty green oasis.

I appreciate my friends letting me use their photos. It is hard to remember to photograph everything on tour day in a garden with which I have become so familiar. I think this garden spoke to a lot of people about loss, love, and memory and it’s important to me to show every view of it.

“In one sense, there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond her departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you, that spirit looking out of other eyes, talking to you in the familiar things she touched, worked with, loved as a familiar friend. She lives on in your life and in the lives of all others that knew her.” Angelo Patri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On August 9th, Ann Skordahl’s garden club from Vancouver toured our garden and Tom and Judy Hornbuckle’s garden four houses down.  Ann’s garden was also on the garden tour this year.  Every year, her club visits a couple of weeks later to see the gardens that were her favourites on the year’s tour. This club had, in the past, been welcome guests at my old garden and my mother’s garden.

entering Tom and Judy's front garden

entering Tom and Judy’s front garden

In the photos of the club touring the Hornbuckle garden, you can see not only how lovely and well maintained the garden is, but how much fun it is to have an appreciative and knowledgeable group come to visit one’s garden.

On a tiny lot, similar to the small lots that might be found in a city, Tom and Judy have created an impeccable garden with several microclimates, a collection of Japanese maples, two courtyard areas and a collection of carefully chosen annuals and perennials.  Tom mows his lawn every three days in the growing season, and it is simply perfect.

Tom talks lawns

Tom talks lawns

down the west side

down the west side

into the driveway

into the driveway

admiring the porch

admiring the porch

the porch

the porch

photo time

photo time

garden club friends

garden club friends

around the east side

around the east side

on the east side

on the east side

admiring

admiring

front garden again

front garden again

happy garden dance

happy garden dance

explaining how it's done

explaining how it’s done

and off they go...four doors down to our garden.

and off they go…four doors down to our garden.

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A continuing trend on the Astoria Garden Tour is to revisit old gardens, and in 2012, three of the gardens were ones I had already seen.  I was particularly pleased to see the garden of Leroy Adolphson and David Drafall, which I had last visited in 2007.  Not only did I remember it as one of my favourite Astoria gardens but I was glad for the chance to photograph the garden to share with my new gardening neighbour, Judy, who lives four houses down from me in Ilwaco and collects Japanese maples.  She was unable to join us but I looked at the garden through her eyes as well as mine.  This garden is so powerful that looking at the photos pulled me in; I tried to write about it in the past tense but kept being brought into the present.

houses on the same block

houses on the same block

On the way we passed houses similar to the Adolphson Drafall home; one had a bridge to get to the front door.  The pink one, right next door, had no bridge, so you can see you would have to go down and then up many stairs to get to the front door.  Oh, and look at the upper right window of the pink house:

doggie in the window

doggie in the window

Ah, here we are at Leroy and David’s gate.  From the programme:   “Cross the wisteria and clematis entwined bridge into a hidden sanctuary.”

bridge from sidewalk to house

bridge from sidewalk to house

on the bridge

on the bridge

bridge detail

bridge detail

looking down

looking down

large maple

large maple

Above:  Looking over the bridge and down to the left into the courtyard.  The garden features “Forty seven Japanese maples, each a different variety, grace room after garden room created by …fences and gates that also serve as windbreaks.”  On this hill above the Columbia River, the wind must be fierce. Right:  Looking to the right of the bridge at a large maple that grows higher than the bridge itself, and the amazing thing is that they moved it in at almost that size.  The lower foreground of the photo is the clematis growing on the railing of the bridge.

stairs from bridge

stairs from bridge

And…looking down the stairs to the lower level and contemplating my vertigo.  Note the stairs further on leading up to a back door.

But I made it, hanging on tightly to the railing after waiting for everyone else to pass.  I stopped halfway down to clear my head, with the excuse of taking the next photo.  Sadly, some older people simply could not get down the stairs at all, and missed a lot.

by the stairs

by the stairs

looking back

looking back

foliage detail

foliage detail

the side door stairs

the side door stairs

the side garden

the side garden

by the base of the stairs from the bridge

by the base of the stairs from the bridge

and under the stairs

and under the stairs

ferns, two views

ferns, two views

The programme tells us that “”Native and hybrid fuchsias, irises, conifers, lilies, hostas, trillium, Jack in the pulpits and 20 + varieties of ferns abound.”

We enter the courtyard through a moon gate; here, the stairs from the bridge are to our right.

Moon gate

Moon gate

east side of courtyard

east side of courtyard

The courtyard is on both sides and under the bridge, between the much higher sidewalk and the house.  The wood wall is that of the old two story (front opens onto the street above) garage. One of the owners told Allan his mom had been called a communist, and this wood is from her old building downtown where someone had carved the word “RED”. (above right)

mossy patio, and under the stairs

mossy patio, and under the stairs

under the bridge

under the bridge

We emerge from the shady grotto created by the wooden bridge into the sunny patio to the west side of the back garden.

west patio

west patio

Next we explore the plantings on and around the wooden deck.  Below, you can see the steep south side of the garden and the fence up along the sidewalk.

on the deck

on the deck

looking north from the deck

looking north from the deck

detail

detail

a gong against the garage wall, with bridge above

a gong against the garage wall, with bridge above

maple

maple

maple

maple

maple

threadleaf maple

looking back to the wooden deck

looking back to the wooden deck

in the courtyard

in the courtyard

in the courtyard; look up to see the bridge

in the courtyard; look up to see the bridge

All around us are Japanese maples of texture bold or feathery and colours of pink, red, gold, cream, green and white.  A large peeling paperbark maple reminds me of how I had to leave mine behind in my old garden.

I also had a huge handsome massed set of contorted filberts which I had been inspired by another garden tour to prune up into tree form, but I had moved before doing so.  Here was another good example of such pruning.paperbark maple and pruned up contorted filbert

paperbark maple and pruned contorted filbert
looking toward the street

looking toward the street

toward mossy west side path

toward mossy west side path

garden detail

garden detail

Mossy path would not hold up to tour foot traffic.

Mossy path on west side of house would not hold up to tour foot traffic.

back we went under the bridge

back we went under the bridge

..and through the moon gate.

..and through the moon gate.

The moon gate takes us back to the shady side garden and the two flights of stairs.

The moon gate path goes back to the shady side garden and the two flights of stairs.

Again we examined all the details of the lovely shade border.

ferns silver, gold, and green

ferns silver, gold, and green

ferns and moss

ferns and moss

shade border

shade border

into the light

into the light

little river rock beach water feature

little river rock beach water feature

 

Just past a river rock “beach”, we step out onto a sunny, flat lawn.  The Japanese maple theme extendsinto this river view, much more exposed area of the garden.  You can see how tall the house is, like many in the neighbourhood that reach for that Columbia River view.

back yard with maple

back yard with maple

back garden details

back garden details

On the west side of the back garden, we get another view of the so lovely moss walkway.

mossy path

mossy path

back garden

back garden

view from the deck

view from the deck

The deck seems to float in the air over the Columbia and a lightweight netting keeps one from accidentally reaching one’s hand through the clear panels.  As we gaze at the river, we also realize that yet another lawn and shrub border lies below us.  We found that it was accessed from a steep side path which was tactfully blocked for our safety.

path to the lowest garden

path to the lowest garden

cookies and bottled water

cookies and bottled water

Allan and I are interested to see what treat has been provided for the tour goers because we and our nearby neighbours Tom and Judy have been discussing, with some small anxiety, what we will serve for our guests when our tour happens on July 21st  Even though we know that bottled water is not environmentally correct, we took away this idea (and it worked out well on our very hot and sunny tour day when we were too busy to refill water jugs).

 

back toward the stairs

back toward the stairs

Having now thoroughly explored the garden from front to back, we had difficulty leaving.  We attempt to return to the stairs to the bridge but find ourselves back through the moon gate for one more look at the courtyards.

I would like to see this garden in the mist with droplets clinging to every leaf or in the winter with all the colours and forms of trunks and twigs revealed.

back through the moon gate

back through the moon gate

the bridge

the bridge

I marvel again at the large maple that they brought in with a crane.

under the bridge

under the bridge

Finally we remove ourselves from the lower courtyrds, climb the stairs (much easier going up than down) and have one last look from above.  Several more gardens await us and we want to get to our favourite little nursery in Gearhart before closing time.

one last look from above

one last look from above

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