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Monday, 23 June 2014

Hardy Plant Study Weekend sponsored by the Northwest Perennial Alliance

Allan, Sheila and I had all gotten confused Sunday night trying to plan out Monday’s tour; the study weekend booklet only had three of the six gardens and the driving directions handout seemed to be missing the description of the Zazzi garden, the second one on the tour.  Sheila decided (not for that reason) that she was too tired to deal with city traffic, tour gardens, and then have a five hour drive back to her Oregon home, so we parted ways.  For various reasons of disorganization (not hers or mine is all I will say!), Allan and I got a late start touring.

leaving the Bellevue Hilton

leaving the Bellevue Hilton

As we drove toward the first tour gardens, we saw an official city sign by the main road:  “Welcome. We are building an inclusive community”.   I love that so much more than a community describing itself as “family friendly.”  I am not sure which of the communities we drove through has the sign.

It was a relief to finally get to the first garden, an hour or more after the tour opened for the day.

Two gardens right next door each other is always a treat as it means less driving and parking.

Two gardens right next door each other is always a treat as it means less driving and parking.

Galicic Garden

photo

Walking up the driveway of this Normandy Park garden, we passed two long tables filled with cool plants for sale.

that schlumpy gal again

that schlumpy gal again

Solanum laciniatum, would have bought but already had bought three at the event's plant sale.

Solanum laciniatum, would have bought but already had bought three at the event’s plant sale.

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant'; I have one in the ground at home but should have taken the opportunity to buy another.

Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’; I have one in the ground at home but should have taken the opportunity to buy another.

We walked past this to our right on our way up the driveway.

We walked past this to our right on our way up the driveway.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

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entering from the driveway into the back garden

entering from the driveway into the back garden

I find myself in a kitchen garden area.

I find myself in an elegant kitchen garden area.

kitchen garden

kitchen garden

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo: how to guide a vine up a tree

Allan’s photo: how to guide a vine up a tree

Another arbour leads to a lawn.

Another arbour leads to a lawn.

a quiet area

a quiet area

a look back to the kitchen garden

a look back to the kitchen garden

and a greeter to the busier garden near the back of the house

and a greeter to the busier garden near the back of the house

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Zazzi: winner hands down in the snack department!

Galicic: winner hands down in the snack department!

Allan was also impressed.

Allan was also impressed.  Plantain is on the lower tier.

I was so taken with the garden views that I forgot to snack on any of the proffered treats.

an entertaining patio, viewed from the snacks table

an entertaining patio, viewed from the snacks table

cool plants in every nook

cool plants in every nook

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

and a waterfall pond!

and a waterfall pond!

This is one of the most interesting ponds I have seen, and we will examine it carefully!

This is one of the most interesting ponds I have seen, and we will examine it carefully!

the main waterfall

the main waterfall

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan gazes upon the pond, to the great interest of the white cat.

Allan gazes upon the pond, to the great interest of the white cat.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

looking across to a bridge and a tiny gazebo

looking across to a bridge and a tiny gazebo

a momentary distraction

a momentary distraction

looking back toward the patio

looking back toward the patio

some shy koi

some shy koi

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

My attention returns to the waterfall.

My attention returns to the waterfall.  It made a nice loud splashy noise.

to the other side of the pond

to the other side of the pond

On the back side of the bridge is another waterfall.

On the back side of the bridge is another waterfall…

and a very small pool.

and a very small pool.

a tropical feeling

a tropical feeling

There is a little sideway rlll that spilled water down into a narrow curved channel that went around the back of the tiny gazebo.

There is a little sideway rlll that spilled water down into a narrow curved channel that went around the back of the tiny gazebo.

like this

like this

and curving around

and curving around

and curving around some more.

and curving around some more.

very damp and mysterious

very damp and mysterious

I remember poking at the channel’s water to try to figure out which direction in flowed in, so I think the water came from both sides (a side rivulet from each waterfall).  I was completely flummoxed and gobsmacked would would most certainly like to have a water feature like this at home.

I couldn’t get a good photo of the little gazebo without being IN the pond, and I did not think to take a telephoto from the other side of the pond.

by the house

by the house

looking back along the house

looking back along the house

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Another white arbour beckons.

Another white arbour beckons.

along the side of the house

along the side of the house

Eryngium (agavafolium, pretty sure)

Eryngium (agavafolium, pretty sure)

Eucalyptus against the house

Eucalyptus against the house

detailed plantings

detailed plantings

along the side of the house

along the side of the house

into the front garden

into the front garden

Looking to my right along the front of the house

Looking to my right along the front of the house

Instead of turning, I walk straight ahead into a shade garden.

Instead of turning, I walk straight ahead into a shade garden.

Allan's hydrangea photo

Allan’s hydrangea photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

every detail impeccable

every detail impeccable

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I emerge onto a front yard lawn.

I emerge onto a front yard lawn.  Way in the back, you can see the white arbour entry to the kitchen garden where our tour began.

IMG_5117

the formal entry

the formal entry

side view of entry fountain

side view of entry fountain

the front porch

the front porch

at the front corner of the house

at the front corner of the house

And you can see how close the next garden is!

And you can see how close the next garden is!

 

 

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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.

1995

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

1998

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.

2000

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.

tuteur

tuteur

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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the front garden

The tour brochure described Marc McCalmon and Sara Brallier’s Froggy Bottom garden in DuPont thus:  Froggy Bottom garden, DuPont, “a 600 foot long stroll path and tumbling stream lead downhill to a stone and gravel patio at the foot of the garden, furnished with…owner-made benches inspired by a visit to Beth Chatto’s garden”.  Our speaker from the UK was the famous Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham, whose garden is “Foggy Bottom”, so this was perfect to have on the tour.

entry sign

in the gate

just inside

the garden's upper level

Walk with me down Froggy Bottom's stroll path.

Here we turn to look back up the path.

Now we look down to the lower patio.

Sheila takes a detour, crossing the waterfall stream.

We pass a bank of artfully placed rocks.

Strolling on down...

A shady border is to our left.

We approach the lower patio.

And again we look back.

The stream from above ends in a pool by the lower patio.

We pause in admiration.

Just look at those inlaid stones.

Standing on those inlaid stones, we look up at the waterfall.

The water theme carries past the lower patio with this dry creek bed....

...that ends in the very bottom of the garden.

At the bottom, a borrowed view, and borrowed space to hang a birdhouse.

We'd like to sit around the fire but have many gardens still to see.

From the fire circle, we look back at a little shed...

...and at another view of the waterfall pool.

Again we admire the paving.

We gaze up the hill from the fire circle.

One last look at the lower pool.

Back we go up the stroll path, past the shady corner.

At the top again, we explore the gardens and pond.

braving the stepping stones

the upper pond...

bog plants

and another view

It's hard to leave this garden.

I was a little embarrassed by these, er, pot "feet" until I realized the pun: "Froggy Bottom".

Alliums

And so we depart, onward to more gardens.  The only way to get to spend enough time in a garden like this is to create it yourself, attach yourself to the creator, or become their jobbing gardener.

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The Astoria Garden Tour is put on by  a society whose focus is preservation historic homes rather than hortheads.  So forgive me if I say that in 2008 I ended up saving only these few photos from the tour…2008 was not the tour’s most impressive year.

two gardens

(left) the garden with dog and interesting container display is a gardening business down a hard to find road.  For years I kept their beautiful business card…..something Moon??  They had a fascinating collection of container plants and I remember a good water feature down by the street….

I liked the middle garden’s waterfall cascading through a couple of ponds down a shady ferny slope.  I remember talking with the homeowner, a woman older than me, about chronic dizziness (brought up by my choosing to go around the edge path rather than back down the steep steps).  She had suffered from it for years.  Happily mine passed by 2011, mostly.  The righthand photo is from the same garden on the very top of the slope.  When I saw the greenhouse I remembered I had been in the garden before the waterfall had been built.  It must have been on a previous tour and a far different garden without the lovely water feature.

The best garden for me was one I had lucked into seeing several years earlier, back when the Daily Astorian had an excellent weekly column called “In the Garden” (and why they dropped it is beyond me; I loved it and read it first thing every week in the Coast Weekend section).  The author’s name was…can I remember? Cathy Peterson maybe? and I had corresponded with her a bit in e-mail.  Oh!  She interviewed Robert and me for the paper once!  And my webmistress saved it on our website…Yes, Cathy Peterson….What a great weekly column she wrote.  When she retired from the column, the Astoria brought in a new writer who wrote at least two very good columns (one was about installing an old garden shed into her new Ilwaco garden lot)…and then the column was dropped.  I remain flummoxed and think of it every time we drive by the Ilwaco house with the old shed.

Cathy and an Astorian gardener named Jessica (whose business had a charming name like Wyndlesham gardens or something like that and whose clever slogan was “hand tool gardening”) spirited us away from the tour that year to see a non-tour garden up and over the hill in an area of more modern homes.  I have now slowly worked to my point:  In 2008 that garden was again on the tour and had it not been such a bright, hard to photograph day, I would have more photos of it.

by the sidewalk

Golden foliage brightens the gardens in front of the house and the Alliums are the sure sign of someone who appreciates good plants.

by the deck

The back yard has sunny beds around the inviting deck.

on the deck

The deck has a prow shape, good for standing as on a ship and overlooking the garden.

The garden falls away in the back to shady woods which are not particularly planted up but do have the occasional decorative touch.

in the woods

On the left is a good idea for camouflaging a black plastic pot and on the left, a statue makes a focal point in an old outdoor fireplace.

After visiting so many gardens in June and July I felt a little bereft at the end of the Astoria tour.  I had one more open day to look forward it in our own garden and in less than a month we would luck into a surprisingly excellent tour of gardens not far from Astoria.

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