16 Aug Seattle Garden Blogger’s Fling – Day 3
It was set to be a true summer day here in Seattle. The temperature might break 80° F! Now our out-of-town guests were chuckling over the locals’ excitement of such an occurrence (and gratefully relieved to cool off) but it is such a rare event for us here in the Pacific Northleft, we can’t help but revel in the sunshine.
The buses headed off for West Seattle, a place that the Pemco commercials should include in their TV commercials, as it epitomizes being “a little different” (in a very good way). We stopped at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market and our mission: lunch.
My Gang of Seven decided on a smorgasbord potluck – everyone would split up for about 20 minutes, and come back with something good to eat. So little time, so many good eats to choose from! I decided on a mixed bag of cherries, including my absolute favorites – Rainier cherries. Their season here is limited, so I eat them whenever I can.
After everyone reconvened with our edibles, we walked a block to a nearby park, and laid out our bounty on a low retaining wall – cheeses, breads, cherries, apricots, salmon, cookies and some raspberry wine. Wow! We did a good job covering the basic food groups. We had an excellent lunch, tidied up, and then it was time to head back to the bus.
Our first stop was at the garden of Fling organizer and shepherd, Lorene Edwards Forkner. It was described in our packet materials as a garden of “comfort, flavor and year-round color and texture“ or what Lorene herself calls “Urban Hillbilly Chic.” But that doesn’t begin to describe it. This is a garden that oozes character, creativity and charisma, a dab of chaos, and a healthy dose of tempting calories. There is something fun and edible to discover at every turn. Fellow local Flinger Alison Conliffe, aka “Bonnie Lassie” called it “funkadelic.” Good choice of words!
Now I have to give Lorene a shameless plug, because her garden was truly reflective of all the work she has put into her forthcoming book, “Handmade Garden Projects – Step by Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More,” to be released in November by Timber Press. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer – and who isn’t these days? – this will be the must-have book for you. And heads up, mark your calendar for February 8 – 12, 2012 in Seattle, since you’re also going to want to hear Lorene speak at the 2012 Northwest Flower & Garden Show, where she’ll be talking more about her fresh take on life outdoors.
From her little knot garden in a classic red wagon, to her backyard firepit, Lorene has created doable projects that can make your garden more livable within whatever space you have. I think my favorite piece was the terrarium in half of a sphere made from…um… I don’t know what it was made from. I just know that I loved it! Where does Lorene get all these ideas?
And of course, the ‘silver bullet’ was there, the old tiny RV that Lorene used a few years ago in one of her show-stopping, award-winning gardens at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. It’s found a wonderful home at the rear of her garden, outfitted inside with cheerful striped red and blue upholstered cushions, a map of the world serving as wallpaper, and cabinets to store favorite books and toys and treasures. Inside she had made a simple but charming arrangement of sweet peas (my absolute favorite!) in jelly jars, in a wire basket, giving fragrance to the entire space.
Because Lorene’s trademark is all about “crafting the good and delicious life,” her garden was filled with edibles at every turn – plump purple beans, herbs of all kinds, espalied apples, zucchini and tomatoes. In tubs, containers and in the ground, and growing up trellises made from all kinds of materials (an old ladder anyone?)
Next we meandered through West Seattle to the garden of Kate Farley, a designer with over 20 years of creating residential landscapes, who has also done show gardens in past Northwest Flower & Garden Shows. Like many designers, Kate had a lot of containerized plants staged about her garden. They looked comfortably nestled in, but could just as easily head over to a client garden.
Kate has been experimenting with her garden for over 30 years. As a large laurel hedge got even larger, she simply cut an opening through it – a wonderful way you create mystery around the garden. Somehow, walking through a large leafy portal instills a sense of magic and indeed, on the other side of the hedge is a lovely, shady intimate garden. One interesting element was a huge tree, long dead, whose branches had turned a pale, ghostly gray. The previous day I had seen a very similar tree, titled “Split,” at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. It was painted metallic silver, and stood out rather forlornly surrounded by low grasses. I think Kate’s ghost tree seemed more at home in her garden than the sculpture at the park.
Along one edge of the property line in the front Kate had crafted a low wall, made from a hodge-podge of different materials (leftovers from client gardens?) that were put together in a wonderful pleasing way. I suspect Kate was into this “reuse, recycle” thing way before it became fashionable.
But the real whammo effect was in the rear garden. I literally gasped as I walked along the side of the house and came upon the tsunami of color! Vivid purple and magenta were combined with orange and apricot in a floral display that was spectacular, using poppies, delphiniums, alstroemeria and phlox, with plenty of evergreen structure behind it. Two purple tutors anchored the color scheme and provided vertical interest.
There was a tree house up high in an old tree trunk, a water feature with “tree trunks” hand-crafted from cement, and an old garden shed that would look right at home in a Western movie. It was filled with baskets, buckets, old fruit boxes and other relics that seemed to be lifted from the Universal Studios prop room. An ancient wood stove provides warmth in the winter, a delicate lace tablecloth covers the window to let in suffused light, and open drawers in old cabinets held all manner of treasures. The interior of the shed was bathed in sunlight, as Kate wisely used old windows as skylights in the roof.
I couldn’t resist sneaking around the shed, and discovered on the back side, where there’s only about two feet between the shed and the neighbor’s chain link fence, Kate has sandwiched some tomatoes growing in 5-gallon pots, soaking up the heat reflected from the wall of the shed. We Seattleites will find any hot spot to try to grow tomatoes!
Finally we headed over to the South Seattle Community College Arboretum to visit their pride and joy, the Coenosium Rock Garden. The Arboretum was first built in 1978 at the request of the students in the Landscaping & Horticulture Department and serves as a living laboratory for them. Many of the gardens within the SSCC Arboretum have come from individual donations or bequests over the years. The Coenosium Rock Garden was designed by an SSCC student who was from Japan, and built by the landscape construction classes in the spring of 2000 and fall of 2001. It now represents one of the largest collections of dwarf conifers in the region, and current classes keep it maintained.
After wandering around the garden we all headed to pockets of shade to chat and visit before loading onto our buses, where we could grab icy cold bottles of water, thank goodness! – Janet
For more photos of Day 3 of the Seattle Garden Blogger’s Fling, go to our Facebook page.