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Posts Tagged ‘Skyler Garden’

After another short week of frenzied work, off we went to Seattle to stay with Allan’s folks and go to nurseries and to the Garden Conservancy tour of 3 Bainbridge Island gardens plus Heronswood.  Up at seven on Saturday, a shockingly early hour for us, we headed for the ferry and then for the McFarlane Garden overlooking the water at the island’s south end.  A grand house confused us with gates and entries: which one to take? Inside we heard voices (which turned out to be those of the Rainysiders who we were meeting for part of the tour.) Finally a quite beautiful man with dreadlocks and a charming Jamaican accent guided us through a gate; when we had arrived and parked at the end of the cul de sac we had seen him doing the final touches of pruning.  We also noted that a bed in the park across the street was being landscaped with overflow from the house gardens, a generous gesture and helpful when a gardener runs out of room.

McFarlane garden

The house was grand, the gardens mostly formal and structured with some exuberant plantings and some restful Italianate scenes.

verticality in the MacFarlane garden

While I enjoyed walking through and admired every inch, I was not deeply moved perhaps because it all seemed so far beyond my reach (a feeling I did not get in the grandeur of the Old Germantown Road Garden, oddly enough).  I enjoyed but did not gasp or get teary-eyed with gardening joy.

Maybe I just was not awake enough yet, because it truly was an impressive garden, and Allan said he appreciated the style because “there was no chaos” and if he were taking care of the garden, he would be “very proud of how tidy it was.”  He pointed out the the Germantown garden is totally maintained by the owners and perhaps that made it more exciting to me.

The next stop, the famous Little and Lewis garden, did bring gasps and thrills and joy.  I’d been there before but would never tire of it, and I wanted Allan to see it (and, later, especially, Heronswood).  Allan commented that it is very small compared to “how big it photographs” and marveled at how much is there.  It’s the Tardis effect: bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  He also noted what pleasant hosts the artists/owners are. You can see far more wonderful photos of the garden in Little and Lewis’ own book, A Garden Gallery, but I must share some of my favourite scenes.

entry courtyard, so vibrant; the famous gunnera leaf; raccoon sculpture

(left) the famous painted pillars (right)One of the beautiful painted walls with the ever so famous weeping tree of ferns and baby tears.

Onward to the nearby Skyler garden where the sunny entryway gave little hint of the winding maze of paths.  Allan liked it becaue of the paths, and the variety of materials used to make them, and the “changes of character and mood” as we moved through the garden.

entering the Skyler garden

I especially appreciated and felt empowered by the narrowness of some of the paths and by how the garden was opened to us despite its admirers having to move carefully one by one. (Empowered because sometimes I question the narrowness of some of my own paths.  But even Lucy Hardiman has narrow paths at the back of her garden.)

paths in the Skyler garden

(Above) Paths narrow, and narrower, and one which had charmingly disappeared.  It was there, if one looked closely under the foliage, but we had to backtrack, and I loved that: the plants came first.  By now, we had diverged from the Rainyside group, most of whom were planning an hour and a half social picnic lunch…but we had several nurseries to visit before touring Heronswood so would be waiting till dinnertime to socialize.

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