Monday, April 25, 2022

The Wonder Garden at the Hoffman Center for the Arts

As I shared last week, Andrew and I recently spent a little time at Oregon Coast, during that adventure we visited a little garden with a big name; the Wonder Garden...

At some point in the past I'd heard of the garden, but hadn't ever visited and thus forgotten whatever it was that I knew. That is until my friend Denise—part-time Tillamook, OR, resident, part time Long Beach, CA, resident—wrote about discovering the garden. So when, on the first day of our beach stay the sun unexpectedly came out, that was the only encouragement I needed—I went to explore.

This ceanothus (maybe Ceanothus gloriosus 'Pt. Reyes'?) was absolutely covered in buzzing bees.

I risked upsetting them when I pulled the ceanothus back to get a better photo of the Saxifraga cochlearis 'Minor' beneath.

The garden itself is a series of berms, no doubt built to improve the soil quality and drainage, but they also give the flat lot some "topographical" interest. The upended driftwood adds verticality and a sense of place. 

Surely I can't be the first person who yearns to paint the house bordering the back of the garden black with yellow trim ala Derek Jarmon?

Astelia chathamica

Acca sellowiana (pineapple guava) and Callistemon pallidus 'Eleanor'

I would have been feeling extreme plant envy at this sighting, except for the fact I decided to play the odds and once again try to grow Euphorbia stygiana—I purchased a plant at Hortlandia.

I've lost two of these in the past, but what the heck, maybe the third time is the charm?

Blooms! My plants have never managed to get to this stage. We shall see!

The stated purpose of the  Wonder Garden is to "Provide educational garden-based experience: pruning, design, botany, culinary, aesthetic, using spectacular plants to show-case coastal gardening" as such they had a great assortment of arctostaphylos (common name manzanita, which is the name of the town the garden is located in), this one seemed familiar and when I leaned over to see the label it all made sense, Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Harmony'.

Just exactly as low and sprawling as it is in my garden.

Nicely incorporated driftwood.

Bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare. So lush, so lovely, so bent on world domination.

Oh! The labels all through the garden were fabulous, and this one had me longing for a plant that hadn't emerged yet! It's been a couple years since I've gown Eupatorium capillifolium but I think I might need to track one down this year.
Succulents out, but tucked in for protection.

Right about now is when I heard a couple of dogs barking nearby. Aware that Ketzel Levine (former Portland resident—I shared photos of her garden hereNPR host, author), is the force behind this garden as well as a dog lover and rescue advocate, I found myself thinking "wouldn't it be great if I got to finally meet Ketzel?"

...and when I looked over towards the parking lot, there she was! You know that moment of indecision? Should I introduce myself? Will it be awkward? Of course it will be, but do it anyway! And I did, and it was, awkward, for about a half second. Then she threw her arms around me and we were talking like old friends. If Andrew hadn't been with me (btw he'd since gotten out of the car and started loving on the dogs) I would have probably joined her working in the garden as it all felt just that comfortable.

Rhodocoma capensis

That looks like a protea! SO many things I wish I would have thought to ask Ketzel about but didn't.

The eucalyptus had been bent and broken but was thoughtfully pruned and carrying on.

Acacia pravissima

Fabulously booming.

You all know my metric for measuring the worth of any garden; "is there an agave?" Well thankfully there was. This agave, Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba', had been overwintered elsewhere, but recently planted back out in the garden.

To it's left was a small, but expanding, patch of Agave parryi.

Pittosporum 'Nutty's Leprechaun', yes, that really is it's name.

What a wonderful spot set-aside for in-garden gatherings, although the Wonder Garden has also had a few online (ZOOM) gatherings as well, read more about those here.

Fabiana imbricata 'Violacea', aka Chilean heather—I might need one of these.

Andrew found a seat from which to consider some garden art, while I finished photographing (Ketzel had been pulled away for a meeting).

As we were leaving he stopped to admire the Armeria maritima 'Rubrifolia', a plant I would have never even given a second look, but once he pointed it out I had to admit the dark foliage was nice.

And I'll end this post with Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice', spiky spiky! Do check out the Wonder Garden if you find yourself in Manzanita, Oregon...

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Love the rocks and driftwood. I want a poem carved into my house like Jarman's. (Did you update or something? It was all different when I went to comment.)

    1. I didn't change a thing, but it would appear that Blogger/Google has.

    2. Google has revamped the commenting experience a bit.

  2. What a great discovery! And a chance encounter with a person you'd always wanted to meet! It doesn't get much better than that.

    1. Our paths have crossed many times, missing each other barely. It was wonderful to finally meet her.

  3. Lots of cool plants and good on you for introducing yourself to Ketzel. IT;s the best way to meet new people. Gotta wonder about the third to last picture. What is the context for where it was placed. Gotta say it gives me the creeps.

    1. It's one of the segments of the tall artwork Andrew was admiring. It is kinda creepy, which is what I liked about it.

  4. I'm growing (trying to) that Eupatorium capillifolium! So glad you made it to this garden -- it looked pretty good after the snow event, right? I'm thinking of volunteering...

    1. It is a very good plant! And I am so excited for you to volunteer there, I look forward to many updates.

  5. Only you would run into someone you knew (sort-of) and make a connection in an out-of-the-way spot like that.

  6. I love Saxifraga cochlearis 'Minor': a definate 'Buy' if I spot it in a nursery. Best of luck with Euphorbia stygiana on your third round!

    1. Isn't it cute? So hard to tell all the different saxifraga apart! Well, except for a certain fuzzy one...

  7. The Totems are a memorial for Kathleen Ryan one of the founding board members for the Hoffman and started the ceramics studio. She passed too soon in 2016. She had started a design for totems in the garden to inspire others. The ceramicists from the clay studio came together after her death to fulfill her dream of having public art in the garden. I wish I had met her.

    1. Thank you for the history of the Totems. I wondered about them. They are so fascinating! And what a lovely for the memorial!

  8. So different and interesting! Thanks, Loree!


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