Saturday, 16 July 2016
The WSU Master Gardeners of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties present:
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).
the view as we walked along the one lane street to the garden. The water is the Chehalis River.
narrow street, narrow sidewalk (Allan’s photo)
The slope we had to back down is steeper than it looks in this photo of Allan’s.
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.
Here I blithely go, not having noticed the big “mobility issues” warning.
arriving at last!
my journey through the amazing hillside garden
Entering the garden, past the check in table: I look to my right. That doesn’t really look like a path, more like I’d be walking in a garden bed. It was a little more vertical than it looks in the photo.
to my left: shade bed with good plants
a bit further, to my right: The ivy is on a vertical hill.
to my right, below: the spring run-off
I dither for awhile about whether or not to go straight ahead. Allan goes onward; I decide to try another way.
feeling doubtful, about to turn back
I needed to find a way UP that I was pretty sure I could also use to get back DOWN.
Okay…I am going this way after all. Hope it is a real path!
All righty, I got this far! Looking down on the greenhouse and the entry to the garden.
good plantings to keep me going
Now I am on a path that I know is legit.
looking back after making it somewhat further.
This is midlevel in the garden.
The terrace or plateau has room for several sit spots.
large level terrace with paths and a patio
well planted, intricate plant diversity
along the fence. I heard chickens that are in the neighbouring yard.
at the end of the fence walkway
skilled and intricate construction at the base of the next hillside. Note the door to the right into the compost bin enclosure. Behind the grate: water run-off from the spring.
water, same stream that appeared way below at the entrance to the garden.
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.
My jaw dropped. What a brilliant solution!
a collection of cool ferns and more
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 just can’t get enough of this.
He must lay a ladder against it to climb up and maintain it so well??
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.
Looking through an arbour to a bridge that goes to the house.
by the bridge to the house
I scuttle across quickly.
view from the side porch of the house
Here are the stairs Allan came up. Hmmm. No……..
I decided I would go back down the bark-y slope…eventually. Meanwhile, I went back to the amazing hillside planters.
On the way back: The lattice is decorated with teacup and saucer creations that I like so much.
Admiring the hill planting some more. Look: I saw people WAAAAY up top and was not sure how they got there. WAY up over the stone wall is another path.
I see Impatiens omeiana and other cool plants to delight a collector.
boxes spilling over with planty goodness
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.
looking up from the base of the planted boxes. Allan is up there, checking it out. There is a gate to the alley.
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.
last look at the central plateau
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.
looking at the garden stairs that might take me to the alley gate
probably not (Allan’s photo)
I crossed the bridge to the house again, climbed some enclosed stairs with a nice railing, and emerged onto the back deck.
I found my way to the top level to exit into the alleyway.
not sure what, fire or water?
alongside the deck
from the back gate, an easy way out
From the alley, I found the exterior gate that led to that mysterious path WAY above the wooden planters.
steps down to the center terrace
The path along the uppermost level. I would have been clutching that railing. Or maybe fainting.
The stream from the spring went underneath the alley. (I’ve since learned this is a one way city street, not an alley.)
across the alley: water from the spring
Thus begins the water course that is diverted down through the levels of the garden. I wonder if it flows dramatically in the winter or on rainy days?
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
entering from the street
next to the greenhouse
We have a birdhouse just like that from Ilwaco Saturday Market!
I am walking away to try a different climb; Allan goes on up the path and stairs.
the way up
Many ladders and scaffolding might be necessary for this garden (and, owner Steve said, painting the house).
Top of photo: You can see the very tiptop walkway with the railing along the fence.
beds next to the deck
the upper deck
window low down by the deck
in a workshop window next to the deck: meticulous
looking down into the garden. I’m at the base of the wooden planters on the steep slope.
from the deck
a way up to the topmost level
non acrophobic people on the uppermost path
(Allan is like a mountain goat with a good head for heights.)
intricate levels. This is the topmost, and you can see one of the wooden planter boxes.
the topmost path
looking down from the highest point
at the end of the upper path
the hillside boxes
the back deck again, just before we exited
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.
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