Posts Tagged ‘garden design’

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Master Gardeners of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties present:

On every garden tour I attend, I have a favorite. I don’t think there has ever even been a tie. This does not make the other gardens lesser, as it’s a matter of personal idiosyncratic taste. This garden was our favorite for this year. This means there are about a million photos, so I will arrange them in galleries which you can enlarge by clicking through them, if you like this sort of thing as much as we do. We did our best to get every item in the correct spot.

We arrived at a handsome house with an interesting array of signs and containers on the front porch. One of the docents checking us in was Wendy, whose garden we loved the first time we attended this tour.

We then walked down the side driveway and came upon a huge parking area between house a long garage and shed. Against the wall were appealing arrangements of automotive relics and plants. I said to Allan, “Wow, these people really know how to display their stuff.”

I noticed people up on the large porch and went up a convenient ramp to see what was to be seen. I love the way all the plants and objects were displayed. It is a talent to put vignettes together so well.

Through an arbor is a secluded back porch room with transparent ceiling. I said to Allan how very much I want a room like that.

A lower level one step down had more delightful displays.

I peeked inside the open shed to see the well set up potting area.

The L shaped garden was off to the side (and front) of the house, and in the middle of it was an outbuilding which houses more vintage items.

I wanted to but did not go inside because of my Covid protocols; it was small with other tour guests coming and going. However, Terri of Markham Farm sent me her photos of the interior, so you and I can peruse them together. Garden owner Glenna, whose husband Mike gives her full credit for all the great arranging of stuff, sat on the porch and regaled us with a story of how one day while working on restoring the house, which had been full of rats, cats, bats, and blackberry vines when they bought it, she found a piece of wood with a man’s name written on it and wondered what the story was about it. Within a few hours, a truck had pulled up in front of the house with a man driving, who turned out to be that man, and out of the back seat emerged a tiny 99 year old woman who had been an original homesteader in the neighborhood. “We were all in tears by the time the visit ended,” said Glenna. The man then mailed her a packet of photos of the house as it once was.

Glenna and Mike restored the house and added the dormer and porches.

I explored the back corner of the garden…

…and the long side garden past the vintage display shed…

…and discovered that the large side porch had even more impeccably curated displays.

Around to the front of the house, I admired the porch closer up but did not go out the gate. I liked the whole place so much that I walked around the whole thing in the other direction before we departed.

This sort of thing is exactly my cup of tea.

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Ann Lovejoy’s garden

I have no photos of the 2000 garden show in Seattle because that was one of the years that a show had a VHS tour available for purchase.  The day after the garden show, Ann Lovejoy (yes, the Northwest garden writer whose 1988 lecture at Tilth I credit with turning me into an impassioned gardener) invited me and Mary to Bainbridge Island and took us to lunch, as a thankyou to me for having started the volunteer boatyard garden in Ilwaco.  I had talked with her about it at the workshop in Cannon Beach the previous summer.  That was also the day we helped a bit with one of her volunteer garden projects at the Bainbridge Library. She took us to her own garden and to the nursery of which she was then part owner.   Below, her garden in February with a wall made of broken concrete.

Anne's Bainbridge garden, 2000

Anne’s Bainbridge Island garden, 2000

wattle fence around a tank, Ann's garden

wattle fence around a tank, Ann’s garden

Below:  In Ann Lovejoy’s garden, at the side of a large open area she used for outdoor Tai Chi. The property was her home and garden school and Tai Chi studio all in one.

Tai Chi area

Tai Chi area

The wattle fence behind the patio had been created by Sue Skelly, whose long ago Ballard garden had been an inspiration to me.

Below:  In Ann’s  garden; I was thrilled to see her work area.

work area

work area

Ann took us to a new garden that she was creating; this shows the design technique of leaving space between shrubs and one’s house.

leaving space
leaving space

She also took us on a tour of Bainbridge Island Nursery

She also took us on a tour of Bainbridge Island Nursery

a typical Ann design

a typical Ann design idea (love!)

At lunch, she shared her own hardships in beginning her writing career, in her marriage ending, and other stories that made me realize my own personal struggles were much the same and that eventually I might be able to come out the other side of the difficulties.



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One time jobs….One-off jobs….Occasionally we take them on although I much prefer gardens in which we’re involved in the ongoing process.

In mid October we took on a big weeding job just as one drives into Ilwaco from the east.  Health reasons had caused the owner to let her garden go dormant and she needed one clean sweep so that she could get back into it again.

before, with Allan weeding; after, weeded and mulched

If I were the ongoing gardener here, I would eventually have a bed running all along those trees and shrubs…

corner bed, before and after

We do pride ourselves in really getting the weeds out, not skimming them off like we’ve seen some jobbing gardeners do.

In the back yard, the owner had a big vegetable garden with some flowers and in it a spectacular dahlia.  I think she said its name is ‘Black Cat’ (but I might be mixing it up now with Scabiosa).  She gave me a bouquet after I admired it.


Then at Barbara’s home in Ocean Park we created a one day front garden a la Ground Force.  (They took two days but usually added a water feature and some decking.)

before…what to do?

We had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted.  We had to think of the deer problem as they would probably enter the garden.  At first, I thought of a bed all the way around the outside, then realized it would be hard to plant right up against the escallonia hedge and decided that would be an excellent spot for the bench to sit on gravel.  I rarely draw out a design so we just plunged in to see where the future garden led us.

The sweet dog kept us company most of the day.

The darling resident dog, Delilah, obsessed all day about getting us to play ball with her…which we did as time allowed.

end of day one

End day one: Lawn removed and hauled off, washed dairy manure applied to future beds. Tools: Ho-mi (Korean hand plow), half-moon edger, grub hoe, wheelbarrow. We got the gravel laid and rolled and the decorative touches made on the first day, with pots and rocks that were already there.  Finally it got too dark to take the final “after” at the end of day one.
The next morning we stopped by to get the after photos.


We had used some of the plants from her containers and also planted assorted spring bulbs.

This is the sort of garden I would have loved to follow through on….but by the time she wanted some veg. beds in her back yard we had become swamped with increasing hours from our regular jobs so had to recommend someone else (probably our capable friend Ed Strange) to take it on.

Meanwhile, autumnal beauty abounded at our regular jobs.

Hydrangea ‘Izu No Hana’ at Klipsan Beach Cottages, 1 October. This is my favourite hydrangea of all time.

Ornamental grasses and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ carried the show at Sea Nest.

Sea Nest, 5 December

Gazanias from The Basket Case Greenhouse bloomed tirelessly into December in the Payson Hall planters at Andersen’s Rv Park (backed with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’).

at Andersen’s RV Park, 5 December

P.S.  In adding the link to Ground Force (my favourite gardening show ever), I ran across this, about the music.  The fact that the final song title is “Lament of the Dandelion” made me laugh out loud.

The theme music for the series was performed by the Black Dyke Band and included the following pieces:

  • Ground Force Theme—played during the show’s opening and closing.
  • The Titchmarsh Warbler—a fast tempo piece usually played during the rush to complete the garden.
  • Lament of the Dandelion—played near the end of the show as Titchmarsh surveyed the completed garden.  (Wikipedia)

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A possible new client asked if we could draw a design for a garden that would conceal an unsightly new septic system.  I pondered for several days whether or not I could wrap my head around measuring and drawing plans for a site.  We drove to the lot and had a look and could immediately come up with some good visions.  But I realized I am a hands on gardener, not so much of a planner…..I start a garden intuitively, and even if I drew a plan, it would probably change in the course of creation.  Another realization became clear:  I no longer want to start gardens whose progress I won’t be involved in.  Last year we helped with one of a friend’s work projects, choosing $1000 worth of wonderful plants, but because it is not one of “our” gardens and is down a private road, we will never see the “after” unless we make a special effort to go there…and an “after” photo would not reflect the way that we would have liked to maintain and prune it.

To the potential client, I wrote:

Speaking of drawings, I took a weekend design workshop once from famous NW garden writers and designers Ann Lovejoy (Bainbridge Island) and Lucy Hardiman (Portland).  Lucy had the most detailed perfectly scaled drawings, while Ann had  casual freehand drawings that she called “bubble and flow” (bubbles representing areas of the garden, flow representing the paths one naturally takes through the landscape).  So while I might like to be like Lucy, my style of drawing runs more to Ann’s.  I loved her style so much that my friend Sharon framed one of Ann’s doodles from the workshop for me.

I had to chortle when rereading a wonderful garden memoir this weekend while pondering whether or not I should practice drawing landscape designs.  Dominique Browning, editor of House and Garden magazine, writes about trying to hire the local nursery owner to transform  her garden:

He says to her, “I have to tell you, I’m not going to draw up plans, or any of that fancy stuff. You look like the kind of person who wants pretty pictures. Drawings”, he said, stretching it out with contempt.  “How is this going to look, where that will go.  I have to warn you, I’m not going to give you pretty pictures.  It never works  Women get disappointed.  A plant list, fine…an estimate, even–”

“Gee, thanks…”

“But a watercolor? No. No plans.  I don’t do plans.”

(from Paths of Desire by Dominique Browning, a book I have now read twice and cannot recommend highly enough)

By the way, she did hire him to do her garden, hands-on, and the results sounded beautiful.

We spend so much time doing gardening that unless there is a rainy day like today I could find no time to make a drawing. In the evening, I sink from exhaustion and prefer the reading of a book or the watching of a movie to garden planning.  I’m not sure how many more years I’ll have the physical strength to DO gardens full time, but if I follow the vigorous example of my mother, I’ll still be wheelbarrowing at age 82.

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