It's a legend, Heronswood. A nursery and botanical garden with cult-like status. Plant-nuts get a sort of wistful look in their eyes when it's mentioned, old catalogues are hoarded, and plants which were purchased there have an almost star-like quality about them.
To my mind Heronswood's heyday was the 1990's - the same decade I lived in Seattle, just a short ferry-ride away. On lazy summer days friends and I would scrape together the fare and treat a ferry ride across the Puget Sound like it was our own chartered voyage, yet I never thought to step foot in the garden. Heck I hadn't even heard of it! It wasn't until I moved to Portland in 2004 and became immersed in the plant culture here that I realized what I had missed. Oh if I could turn back time! Instead I made it a priority to visit during one of the plant sales and garden open days this last September.
The sale included some of my favorite nurseries! Right at the front corner was DIG from Vashon Island.
They had a wonderful assortment of plants and even a few other things like these Esther Pots.
So many of my favorite plants were available at the sale. Of course since I already had them that meant I didn’t need to buy them!
That’s Heidi (on the right) owner of another favorite nursery, Dragonfly Farms.
Okay I’ve perused the sale and made my purchases (a Pyrrosia sheareri and a Piptanthus nepalensis var. tomentosus from Far Reaches Farm). Time to check out the garden! (note the full grown human on the far left of the Gunnera, for scale).
During the summer of 2012 the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe purchased Heronswood from the W. Atlee Burpee Company (who had purchased it from it's founders, Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones, in 2000...there is a whole lot of back-story there which I'm choosing to leave out). The tribe, its staff and volunteers have been working to return the garden to some version of its former self.
But...I’ve heard the stories. Plants disappeared from the garden, the ones that remained suffered years of neglect. Untrained volunteers have pruned rare plants to sticks. This was a collectors garden...when the collections were gone what would remain?
Well...seeing the garden with fresh eyes, eyes with no high expectations, I loved every bit of it. It was still a magical place.
Any plant lover who wanders its paths has to feel the magic.
There were still plenty of scenes to take my breath away. Like an entire corner of these ferns...
This humongous hebe!
Although it didn't necessarily take my breath away in a good way. Having just purchased 3 of these earlier in the day (more on that tomorrow) I was frightened at its size. I now believe this to be Hebe ochracea, where as what I bought was the compact cultivar 'James Stirling'...
Daphniphyllum himalaense ssp macropodum 'Variegated' (Variegated Himalayan Daphniphyllum), on the left.
Such sexy leaves!
This kind of thing isn't really my style...but ya know, right here it just seemed to fit.
And naturally I was drooling over the huge tree ferns.
Right about here I realized what time it was and that I needed to head back to the sale area and meet up with my friends (and travel companions for the day). I rushed out of the garden knowing I would be back someday...
Oh and speaking of those friends, Anna took this picture in the garden and shared it on her blog post. I didn't see this plant during my stroll through, and it was probably a good thing too because I might not have wanted to leave it behind! Oh those wavy waxy leaves! Anna and I have been going back on forth on what it might be but I'm still not certain we've got it. I'd love to hear ideas from you!!!
*UPDATE - consensus is this is a dwarf peach tree, I'll let you know if I learn more*
All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.