Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Risdahl-Pittman Garden, my first stop on a fun-filled weekend of garden touring

Early on June 16th I packed up my car and headed north for the Northwest Perennial Alliance Hardy Plant Study Weekend. This event—held in the greater Seattle/Puget Sound area—was a five day garden touring extravaganza. While I was excited to once again be out touring a collection of private gardens and getting to chat with plant-people, I was also a little anxious. It had been several years and I was very out of practice...

I took this shot walking up to the first garden, things looked hopeful...

Very Pacific Northwest...

Lots of foliage and texture...

Everything so perfectly maintained.

Right about here is when I settled in and realized it was all going to be okay. I was back with my people and I had chose well for my first garden of the weekend. This—the Risdahl-Pittman Garden located in Milton, WA— was open on the "shoulder" days of the event, for those traveling up from the south.
When visiting gardens it's good to be a little jealous of just how perfect plants you wish you could grow look, like this one—which might be Ligularia Britt-Marie Crawford? It does not like my garden, not one bit.

I love a cramscaped pathway!
And unique hardscape details...

A few words from the garden description in the Study Weekend handbook we received: "Our garden is a collector's garden arranged in eclectic rhythm. Not totally scientific, species seem to play well with each other in the Merry Mixture... You will notice a sphere theme going on. Ferns of all persuasion are happy to show themselves in most beds."

Struthiopteris spicant, syn. Blechnum spicant, aka deer fern.

Maybe Impatiens omeiana 'Silver Pinkster'?

Perhaps Matteuccia struthiopteris, the ostrich fern?

When visiting a garden, looking back at where you've been—which I am doing here—is as important as looking ahead. The flash of blue is the jacket of another garden visitor.

Something interesting over in the distance...

Seriously you guys, this garden was SO GOOD!

Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart's Tongue Fern) 

More from the garden description, written by Susan Risdahl-Pittman: "Gardening is even better when your Garden Guy is also a creative hardscaper. He envisions and creates entirely without a pattern and from scratch. Our greenhouse (below), built by the Garden Guy, houses plant cousins who don't appreciate temperature swings."

That Garden Guy she refers to is the other half of the talented duo here, Guy Risdahl-Pittman. Guy built a very nice greenhouse!

By the door...

And inside...

I especially loved that the ceiling was framed by a pipe from which you could hang plants.

In the distance is an interesting shed with great storage that I am surprised I took no up-close photos of. Oh well. I was in conversation with the Guy half of the Risdahl-Pittman's in this part of the garden and sometimes one or the other has to give. Both Guy and Susan were so fun to talk with that I'm glad it was the photos and not the plant talk that "gave".

Not that I suffered from a lack of photos to chose from for this post!

Ah... Daphne x houtteana, not a plant you see very often. I had to ask to be sure that's what it was as the leaves are a little larger and greener than on my plant. Perhaps because it's growing in more shade?

A baby Clifford! Magnolia macrophylla

Again from the garden description: "We do have the prerequisite pond, which doubles as a water source when I have used up the rainwater in the trugs and Home Depot glaringly orange buckets. Thanks to Deep, Rover, and Chiclet, our friend Koi, for the light fertilizer.

I assumed that the talented Guy was responsible for the creative hardscaping here as well, but he said no. The pond and surrounding work was already in place when they moved in. 

Shortly before (or maybe after?) rounding this bend I ran into Susan and we had a nice chat about all things garden.

She admits to have gone a little "big-pot crazy", big rocks too...

I believe this is a Kalmia latifolia, or mountain laurel. I don't remember ever seeing it before this garden, where it was grown so well. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that on this mid-June weekend there was still rain falling here in the PNW. Not enough to interfere with my garden touring, and it just happened to be the last rainfall before things went dry for the summer (dry and warm to hot... it was 102 yesterday in Portland, headed to 101 today).

If the rain didn't say June then the blooming peonies definitely do.

I've decided that from now on I'm going to be highly judgmental of any garden that doesn't include a lot of containers. I mean... why would you not have containers—and a lot of them!

It was time to take my leave of this wonderful garden. I was off to PowellsWood. So many gardens, so little time...

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


  1. Wow, just wow. Seeing this garden makes me realize that I could be very happy gardening in the PNW. Just in case I ever need to leave California...

    1. Well, we're not California, but we do it pretty well up here.

  2. Wow, is right. Don't know whether to just love this garden or to be jealous of the meticulous detail and the size and scale of plants. That Britt-Marie is stunning and I've never seen a Hart's Tongue that big in my area. The Mountain Laurels are lovely; very East Coast. The Arnold Arb at Harvard has them.

    1. "very East Coast" that must be why I don't recall seeing them before. I'm sure the fact that it was in full flower helped too.

  3. Such a delicious garden. Reflecting Gerhard's comment, I think about gardening in the PNW a lot (even if it's hotter in your area than mine at the moment). The thought of leaving California is daunting but I did just finish looking at a slew of houses online in an area my BIL mentioned (Why are so many homes cookie-cutter new construction?)

    1. I have a handful of cities saved in one of my weather apps and LA is one of them. It is amazing how often we're warmer! As for new construction...I agree, most of it is so uninspiring and cheaply done—but not cheap!

  4. What a lovely cool oasis. So much beautiful greenery. It's definitely got all the traits of a PNW garden especially with all the cool forms of conifers.

    1. I wish that I would have had the time to go back and walk thru it a second time. There was so much to see!

  5. AnonymousJuly 28, 2022

    Your tour extravaganza is off to a very good start. This is a garden I can relate to in every way. The photo where you are looking back where you've just been is great. There are a couple of white leaf small trees in that photo: I'm guessing Japanese willow and Floating clouds maple (Ukigumo). I make my heart jump... so gorgeous.


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