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Posts Tagged ‘Old Germantown Road Gardens’

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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haunted by memories of an extraordinary garden

As I write this on July 13th, it has been 6 days since we visited the Old Germantown Road Garden for an HPSO open day….and I can’t stop thinking about the garden’s greatness. At the HPSO study weekend, Sheila and I had sat at the dinnertable with its owners and creators, Bruce Wakefield and Jerry Grossnickle, yet we had not felt we had time to drive to see their outlying garden. I think we made the right choice, because it required far more time to view than a hasty walk through with anxious thoughts of getting back to the train station in time for the trip home.  You could walk through the gardens all day and still find new magical surprises.  I had a feeling this was a garden we needed to see, so Allan and I went to its very next open day (a four hour round trip).

view from house deck and from greenhouse terrace

After a breathtaking entry past a sweep of Sedum’ Autumn Joy’ and the thought that with a huge garden one COULD have huge sweeps of plants, we rounded the driveway circle and were welcomed into the house with a sign advising us to view the garden from the deck…the route to which took us past Jerry serving up his famous chocolate swirl cookies and delicious iced punch. An idea of the vastness of the garden could be had from the driveway, but even looking down from the deck it was hard to grasp the sheer size.  I think it is three acres, two in cultivation.  [2012 note: I think now it is five acres, two in cultivatation…The article says how big…] We were given a map to guide us through the gardens: Cardiocrinum garden, Orchard, Primula Gardens, Arches, Mediterranean Garden, Woodland Garden, Gazebo, Pond, Rock Garden…..and more…

greenhouse and descending terraces

The terrace greenhouse was filled with exotics.  What entranced me was the round pond (with a concrete bench in it…I did not think to check if the water was hot or cold) from which ran a rill across the terrace, splashing narrowly next to steps to a second terrace, when it flowed into a fascinatingly deep green little pool under a mysteriously floating boulder. It was about then that I decided I was in the best garden of my experience.

passing through the rock garden…and finding the gazebo

Onward down natural stone steps, past a striking patch of cacti, we were given a staggering choice of paths and were drawn by the bright lawn borders which we had seen from above. Everywhere, dwarf conifers were brilliantly used as punctuation.  Oh, to have more room for such!

ponds small and large

Past the sweeping lawn borders and gazebo we felt we were entering a series of rooms.  We happened upon this wee pond (above left) and moments later found this glorious large pond (right) with enormous koi and an inviting stone bench at one end.  One could walk all the way round it, and indeed other members of the HPSO were going round and round. Just sitting and watching those fish could take all day.

a secret garden…………………..and another enticing path

Paths offer many choices and the worry that one might miss something extraordinary.  One mossy set of steps lead to a secret garden with bench.  These gardens abound with sit spots and with beautiful objects.

art in the garden

From the deck, another gardener and I both thought the metal sculptures, below left, were actual huge Allium schubertii.

garden art, garden arch

Past the rose arches we were offered more tantalizing path choices; steps or gravel? We paused to enjoy the Mediterranan garden with its drinking fountain, the handle propped on with a stone to provide visitors with water on such a hot bright day.

drinking fountain…and back to the lychnis (rose campion) at orchard entry

But I have gotten ahead of myself. After the ponds we plunged into the woodland paths. Under a collection of wonderful trees grew silver-leaved brunnera, ferns, hellebores which must have been amazing in bloom, and Cardiocrinums just going to seed; then we emerged into bright sunshine accentuated by a splash of hot magenta lychnis at the entrance to the orchard. Again: the joy of having the space to use a big splash of a common but striking plant. I loved all the raised beds as we left the woods and worked our way up toward the Mediterranean garden and its drinking fountain.

so many paths

And did I mention paths? Dark and light, shaded, subtle, revealing a secret garden or bursting out into waves of colour….

shady paths

into the sun

The colours…the raised beds…the fascinating perennials and the conifer punctuation….By the time we had circulated through the entire garden and had a refill of icy fruit drink and another cookie, I sat in a daze on the curved wall of that terrace with the deep green little pool and the splashing rill.  Allan reentered the house to listen to gardeners talking out on the deck.  And I looked up to see what provided me with cool shade, to see a small forest of Tetranpanax papirefer ‘Steroidal Giant’ overhead…a precursor to what I might eventually expect from my precious two year old plant.

the small green pond fed by a rill……………………the tetrapanax grove

And now…six days later….I can’t stop thinking about the paths wooded and sunny, the raised beds and conifers, the deep green small pool, the Lobelia tupa which I must buy somewhere, and what the gardens must be like in different seasons, and what in the world I can do to make our two city lots more magical and mysterious.

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