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Posts Tagged ‘Hersonwood’

Okay, I’ll admit it: I have issues about the way the Heronswood garden closed.  When we joined other gardeners for dinner at the end of the day, many cooler heads had thoughtful things to say, but before that, when we drove onto the grounds and saw cars parked where greenhouses used to be, I got teary-eyed and not from garden joy.  I had a little inside information (from a relative of one of the owners) back at the time of the sale that running the business side of the growing nursery was exhausting to them and had sapped their joie de vivre.   Some say that Burpee closing the nursery and moving the operation to Pennsylvania was fine because a lot of money was paid for it.  I believe that the owners would not have agreed to the sale if they had been able to forsee the garden’s closing; that they would have found another way; that no amount of money was worth what happened.  Now, that is just my opinion, based on all that I have read, and cooler heads may disagree and speak of both sides of the story.

So just let me share a few of the iconic scenes of Heronswood, the vignettes that will stay with me through the years.  I hope the garden ends up being preserved and enhanced by a group like the Garden Conservancy or the Pacific Northwest Horticultural Conservancy, on whose website you can see glorious photos of Heronswood.  [2012 note: this preservation effort failed, and I have no idea how well Burpee has done at maintaining the garden.] And now that Allan has seen it he can understand why all of the avid Northwest gardeners he has met since starting to work with me have been in mourning that H’wood is now longer a place where we can go, like mecca, to purchase amazing plants.  Allan already has seen the loss of the wonderful, funny and literate catalogs plantsman Dan Hinkley used to write before Burpee changed the catalog to be, well, glossy.

car park and dismantled greenhouses

This is where I got all choked up: a parking lot where  we used to buy plants, and some derelict greenhouses off to the side.  I remember the Heronswood open days, two of which I travelled for miles to see (and friend Sheila travelled even farther) and how Dan would always give his humourous lectures and slideshows. (My visits came after Burpee purchased H’wood, but when the arrangement seemed to provide the best of both worlds: Dan’s influence and wisdom and collecting, and the practical side run by Burpee).

into the woodland

Into the grounds we then went, while I muttered for awhile about the lost greenhouses…down the long driveway with side gardens of astonishing forest plants from around the world, all of which I want of course. A fallen tree had its base planted with bromeliads.

The iconic lawn……and the iconic hornbeam hedge with some amazing lemony-white tall lilies in front

Past the lawn edged with Hakanechloa macra ‘Aureola’…perhaps the most famous scene at Heronswood…Through the sunny borders…around the house…past the renowned arched hornbeam hedge, into the vegetable parterres enhanced with bright flowers….and the secret garden around the house.  By now we were again with Rainysiders; one said that she had never seen the private area around the house, which was usually roped off on open days.  I had been to an open day which had included the house gardens, and they had certainly had more amazing plants in pots way back then (even though it was after Hinkley had moved to his new house).  That and more little weeds here and there were signs of change.

More iconic views: The famous columnar tree underplanted with black mondo grass, echoed by a black pool of water at the other end of the path.

the vegetable garden….where even the sink is a work of art…

Back through the woods, to the famous Little and Lewis “ruins”, past frequent bottlenecks where folks would stop to photograph one amazing plant after another…

The bright dahlias (center) always speak to me of Sheila, lover of hot colours, with whom I have visited Heronswood before.

Twice we had circled through the gardens, storing up memories.  I look forward to the book that Dan Hinkley is writing about his years there.

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