Posts Tagged ‘paths’

We had met Lynn and Donna Ryan of Seaview through their neighbour, Bev, and Donna’s garden design skills were a great inspiration to me. Lynn, a retired dentist, had added all sorts of clever touches to the home interior, and as we got to know them, he hired Robert to help out with projects.

Below:   Donna in her back garden, which was 25 feet wide and expanded ever westward on property that ran to the mean high tide line.


Donna's back garden

Donna’s back garden

looking down at the west side garden from the second story deck on the house

looking down at the west side garden from the second story deck on the house

Through the arch was a garden shed. Later we would help create a pond where the curved bench is and we helped build garden beds further west.

second story deck view

second story deck view

outside Donna's garden shed

outside Donna’s garden shed

in Donna's garden

in Donna’s garden

Donna’s example taught me how to fill every space with interest.

planting under a bench

planting under a bench

side porch of the house

side porch of the house


new hedge of Cistus 'Elma'

new hedge of Cistus ‘Elma’

I loved that hedge of evergreen white bloomed Cistus, and then the winter after this photo was taken the whole thing died.  We never knew quite why…too cold?  Or did the run off from the parking lot make their feet too wet?

Robert helped Lynn install this huge new window on the north side of their house.

window being installed

window being installed

Below, Robert and one of Donna’s cats by the new window. I wish I had photographed the interior of the house, because it was gorgeously decorated with art, antiques, old quilts and a paint theme of blue and yellow.

the new window

the new window

Robert and Lynn built a pond in the back garden with a waterfall made of driftwood.

new pond

new pond

When Robert began his ironworks business, Donna commissioned this dragonfly gate.

in the west side garden

in the west side garden

Beyond the gate, before the fence, you can perhaps see two trees with their trunks woven together.  Both of Donna’s parents (still active farmers in their 90s) had been murdered the year before by a small band of teenagers on their eastern Washington town.  Donna had had to spend many days in the courtroom during the trial.  Those two trees were the centerpiece of a memorial garden that she created in the memory of her parents.


Donna’s garden was always interesting in every detail.

on the back door

on the back door

She and Lynn went garage saling every Saturday and she cleverly repurposed her finds.

old wagon planter

old wagon planter

container garden heaven

container garden heaven

at the garden entrance

at the garden entrance

another yard sale find

another yard sale find

The south side fence at Donna’s was falling down so Robert welded an ironwork top and Lynn attached it all to these posts to make a long covered pergola.

the pergola

the pergola, looking east

Robert and Lynn enclosed a sunporch with old windows at Donna and Lynn’s Seaview house in spring of 2000.   I have no photos of it but what a wonderful, lightfilled place it was to sit.

below: Donna’s porch, outside the south facing French doors. I learned from her the idea that some indoors objects can be used on shelves outside.

on Donna's porch

on Donna’s porch

She commissioned a tuteur from Robert and had it in her front garden.



And then, much to my amazement, Lynn and Donna divorced and off she went to Ridgefield to establish a new home and garden near her daughter and grandchildren.  I regret that I have never been to see it as I am sure it is wonderful.    Lyn relocated to Vancouver, Washington and remarried; he and his new wife came to visit my Spring Street house once looking for Robert, but by then Robert and I had also parted ways.

I learned from this that no matter how perfect another couple’s life looks from the outside….you just never know.  My only hint was when she would go upstairs to read in order to avoid Lynn watching boxing on tv….and that occasionally he would call Robert and dramatically say he needed Robert’s help on a project in order to avoid a divorce.  We thought he was joking.

The last thing Robert made for Donna was a double gate for her new cottage in Ridgefield:

gates destined for Gypsy Cottage

gates destined for Gypsy Cottage

I still miss Donna’s gentle company, and her garden; it would have been perfect for the Peninsula garden tour.

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veg and berry patch

On the hill in our town is a garden that has long fascinated me.  It made an impression when first I walked by it while still living in our tiny cottage behind the boatyard.  I remember a Buddleia in the front garden and clusters of flowers in a very cottagey setting, and in the long sloping back yard I could see old windows enclosing a vegetable and berry patch.  After my first sighting I had a night time dream that I knew the owner of the house and while the person was vague in outline and I was not even sure if it was a man or woman, in my dream the person was my best friend.

berry patch with recycled windows from the old Hilltop school

Years later, imagine my delight when the owner of the garden asked me if I could recommend anyone to help her weed and prune and get it back to the way it was before her ill health had intervened.  Why yes, I could recommend Allan and myself.  We took a walk round last week.  And because yesterday pouring rain watered our jobs for us, today we had the unexpected chance to spend a few hours there getting started.  (I had thought we might not have time till mid-September.)

I am not going to post before and after pictures out of respect for the owner who had no choice but to let it get weedy with the vicious bindweed, the annoying creeping buttercup, and mistakenly planted and highly invasive lily of the valley.  (I bet the little patch of lily of the valley that I planted in my former garden and then spent years trying to get rid of has taken over a whole bed by now!)

I ask you, what jobbing gardener could resist the chance to work in a garden with charming paths like these!

cottage garden path

path with mossy bricks

What’s more, I noticed that right inside the front door of the house was a bookcase absolutely stuffed with books.  Delightful!  Add to that the Obama sign on the fence and I felt all day like that garden was the perfect place to be.

P.S.  I will get around to writing about our glorious summer in our own garden…being on the tour, and so on!  The nights are drawing in sooner and writing time is returning.

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Leaving Astoria and the Astoria gardens, we drove to Warrenton, a neighbouring town toward the ocean; Whiskey Road looked like this, very bucolic even though it was close to Highway 101.

approach to Hatfield garden

Of course, I itched to prune the dead fronds off of the sword ferns along the road.

Entering the property we walked past an enviable guest house.  It would have suited us perfectly for our main house.

the guest house

(I’ve often thought if one could find just the right employer, it would work to live on a big property and be the fulltime gardener.  To be a Fergus Garrett to a Christopher Lloyd.  There would have to be great trust and some guarantee of security in old age.)

An entry to a woodland path led to lively chickens and another view of the guest house.

along a woodland path

Further along, we came upon a vegetable patch and a garden described in the tour guide as Japanese in style.

further along

by the lake

Past the shrubby shady garden we saw Smith Lake.  And turning to our left, we passed through an arbour into the sunny flower garden between the house and the lake.

arbour view

Below:  Looking from the house to the lake, and from mid-lawn back up to the house.

dock at the bottom of the garden

Smith Lake from the dock

a photographer kneels for a good shot

looking from the dock to the house

You know I would have had more garden and less lawn…but with a desired view of the lake all garden beds would have to be low growing.  The garden might have lost some plants to the harsh winter of 09-10.

another view up the garden

Above, to the left was the arbour we came through from the Japanese style garden and veg patch.  On the other side of the lawn a gorgeous brick path wended gently uphill.

looking back to the dock

path from dock

partway up

along the path

shared fireplace?

We could not tell if this fireplace belonged to the Hatfield garden or the next door garden (which was next on the tour), and we forgot to go to these stairs from the other side.

along the path

looking through to the lawn beds

along the path

path detail

near the house

on a patio

alongside the house; I love this sort of artful display.

Soon we reached  a Koi pond in the house garden; the owner told Allan that a heron had recently snatched some fish. The waterfall cunningly emerged from dark shrubbery uphill.

a lovely pond

pond detail

by the pond

naturalistic stream

the streamhead

A path beckoned.

From the pond, a path lead by the garage to a deck.

From there, we crossed the deck back to the entry driveway.

the greeting committee

We had missed meeting the gardener on the way in. I believe that is Mr. Hatfield in the pink shirt. On that table was a bowl of beautiful polished rocks and each tourer was allowed to choose one.  That’s the sort of kind touch that makes a garden especially memorable.

We left the garden via a woodsy area….

passing this landscaped pumphouse (?)...

and briefly exploring the woods by the road.

Not only was the friendliness of the gardeners memorable but we also were impressed with the pond and stream (and the way it cleverly emerged from the undergrowth) and that beautifully designed and maintained curving brick path.  I’ve enjoyed revisiting it while writing about it.

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