Posts Tagged ‘secret gardens’

I had long admired a garden in Ocean Park known to to its owner Kathleen and her friends as Sea Garden.  For various reasons it had somewhat gone back to the wild over the past couple of years and had been damaged by falling trees during the big blow of December 2007.  In July of 2008 she hired us to spend six hours a week bringing the wildnerness back to a garden that she could peacefully enjoy during her time at the beach.  Her attention was divided between the coast and a beautiful city garden in Seattle.

Sea Garden porch

The garden still retained much of its original beauty even though the paths had closed in with foliage.

On July 3rd we brought the fenced vegetable area back to a space that was plantable.

veg area before and after

found stones

Smooth gleaming stones reappeared from under the soil.

We placed other found treasures on a garden table.

china shards

(When I had first been to Sea Garden back in the mid 90s I had been inspired by the way Kathleen used broken china in the garden.)

bird bath at Sea Garden, mid 90s.

The garden’s several human-made ponds had disappeared in verdant vegetation.  The water drew me to rediscover the main pond even though I meant to be working on paths.  By the water, we found these shoes that Kathleen had left behind one day.

lost shoes

We arranged more shiny rocks by a tiny little splash of a pond as a surprise for the returning gardener who appreciated such things.

stones, water

As we cleared areas of the garden patches of flowers began to thrive in the light.

daisies and alstroemeria

In the late summer we got to enjoy the lilies and hollyhocks on our weekly visits, usually to a garden of solitude.

late summer flowers

We would email photos of the flowers when Kathleen was too busy to visit.  Because the garden had lost a great deal of privacy when chainsaw happy neighbours had felled many trees and had installed horrid bright night lighting, we piled collected weeds and trimmings in a berm which we hoped might eventually return some of the secret garden feel that had been lost.

Old roses clambered within the small deer fenced enclosure uncaring of whether or not a human saw their blooms.  Frogs croaked mysteriously, not bothered by the irksome neighbours who drove past using their big car for several errands every day.

We began to weed, clip, and define in the back garden behind the house whose big windows gave a lovely view of the forest where maples provided the focal points.

window views

Throughout the summer and into the fall we continued to clear paths and revive the garden.  On October 30th we came to work and from every north window of the house and every vantage point of the back yard one maple dominated the scene.

just a glimpse

Even from the front porch, looking through the curtains, across the living room and out the back window, we could see a glimpse of the vibrant red leaves.

By November 10th only a hint of its glory remained.


30 October …….. 10 November

We cleared storm-felled branches, dead rose canes from two giant ramblers, and masses of weeds and almost beat back all the ivy from inside an old chicken shelter that held the poignancy of the hens having been attacked by raccoons….a lost paradise which could perhaps be turned into another deer proof garden.  I remembered when Kathleen used to stop by our Ilwaco house bearing a gift of fresh eggs.

clearing by the old chicken house

We continued to add considerable definition to the views of the back woods.

window views

As autumn waned Kathleen expressed more peace with the fully cleared paths and open areas but we could tell she was restless as she looked for a garden closer to the city and with more privacy from busy neighbours.

On one of the days when she was at Sea Garden we created some plant table vignettes in the back garden.

plant tables

In later autumn her quest for a northern garden intensified and she visited the beach less and less.

We laid bark on paths on a rainy 28th of November…

and captured these autumnal images to email to Kathleen…

Although we continued to check the house on into early December, we could tell the heart had gone out of this garden and indeed its owner did find a new place where she could create her own paradise in a setting with more land and more privacy.  These are the last photos I took at Sea Garden on my last visit there, 6 December, 2008.

sheer curtain

in the sun room

garden tool on window sill

What has become of the garden now I don’t know, and like my old garden that I left behind in February of 2011 I really don’t want to see it now, but instead am focused on gardens of the present.

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