Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Visiting the gardens of Webster Manor

Back on July 13th I finally paid a visit to my friend Tim's garden, aka Webster Manor. I meant to get over there ("over there" being all of 3 miles away) last summer, but never managed to do so—I made it a priority this year. Since the light was harsh during my visit I borrowed this wide-shot from Tim...

Nice right? Well now feast your eyes on the "before", when he bought it back in 2018. That's right, just 5 years ago...
That's what vision and a lot of hard work will do. Here are a couple of my attempts at a wide-shot, bright afternoon that it was. I'm standing on the street when I took these photos.

Tim is growing Trachelospermum jasminoides on the chain-link fence to create a nice front garden wall.

And he's cleverly worked in several spikes.

Berkheya purpurea

There's a little art installation next to the driveway, of course everyone is free to interpret these plantings however they like.


This spiky wonder has a bit of a backstory. 

Every year I share a photo of the agaves at the Rare Plant Research open house labeled as Agave utahensis and every year I mention they're most likely Agave montana. Tim bought one a few years back and it's grown into this beauty, however it rotted off at the base after this ugly winter. After discovering the tragedy Tim placed the rootless agave on the ground in his greenhouse and... it rooted! He since moved it out here, it looks pretty darn good don't you think?

As we worked our way into the front garden Tim used the term "chaos gardening" to describe his style. I like it, but I also feel a little like it undercuts his serious gardening credentials. 

Chaos would be every container a different color. 

Okay... I suppose there might be a touch of chaos in there, but it's the very best kind.

I complimented his collection of rusty metal, Tim said he'd done something more interesting with the pieces but they'd recently been moved to this spot during another project. 

Tricyrtis formosana I believe.

Cunninghamia (I believe)

By now you've no doubt realized Tim is a collector. His is the kind of garden I can get lost in for hours. There is a good overall design, but the plants themselves are treasures, each requiring examination.

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty', all the more interesting planted with the dark foliage of the acer.

Looking skyward at the bananas...

...and the tetrapanax.

Looking back over my shoulder.

That gunnera! Gunnera perpensa (the curly leaves).

I didn't catch which eucalyptus this is, but the blue looks stunning against the green hedge, which was inherited and gives great privacy from the neighbor next door.

Tim scored a pair of these chimney pots from fellow gardener Gail Barnard who recently moved gardens.

They flank the entrance to the back part of the property which Tim referenced as the orchard. He named the different fruit trees growing there but I didn't manage to make note of them.

Oxydendrum arboreum, aka sourwood growing near the chicken coup.

Close-up of the tree...

Close-up of the fancy chickens and their cabbage on a rope...

Turning back around and bam! There's the dreamy greenhouse.

Darlingtonia californica


Tim has all the cool trees, this one Sciadopitys verticillata, the Japanese umbrella-pine.

I may have heard mention of buying trees with the "next garden" in mind.

How dreamy is this!?! It's not every garden that has a ginormous cycad.

That curly new growth is fabulous.

Of course there was a stash of new plants waiting to be planted. Of course I had to check them out. I fell so hard for this one, Soldanella alpina, that I placed an online order the next day (more on that coming up on Friday).

At first glance I thought this Athrotaxis cupressoides (pencil pine) was a Cassiope lycopodioides (another current obsession of mine).

I stared at this rusty wall mounted bromeliad business longer than I care to admit, before I realized I made it! Ha! Tim purchased it from me at the spring T.O.P.S. sale.

How cool is that cabinet? A find that our mutual friend Patricia encouraged Tim to purchase.

Wollemi Pine, because he has all the cool plants.

And healthy bamboo, too.

Unfortunately this visit has drawn to a close. If you're a Portlander (or live within driving distance) you'll be excited to learn that Tim is planning to open his garden for the HPSO in September, date TBD. Info will be in the HPSO email, and if you follow Tim on Instagram you'll see notice there, or on Facebook. 

BTW—another opportunity to visit local gardens is coming up this weekend! The Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association is holding a garden tour, one of the gardens on the tour will be this garden I've written about several times, belonging to Dale Latham. Dale is a kind supporter of my work and will have a few copies of my book, Fearless Gardening available for purchase at his garden during the tour (1-5pm Saturday July 29th). Check it out!

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  1. AnonymousJuly 26, 2023

    Who doesn't love before and after photos... an astonishing transformation to garden and house. I wonder if the pandemic gave Tim more time in the garden that he wouldn't otherwise have. I love his collection of conifers and that massive cycad!
    The re-rooting Agave utahensis is an inspiring story of survival.

    1. In case you didn't catch it, Tim replied to you below. I can vouch for the fact that Tim was not one of those folks who had garden time on his hands during the pandemic.

  2. To some degree, yes, but I spent a lot of the pandemic working two jobs and studying for a career change. I'm just kind of obsessive!

  3. This is a garden in which I would feel right at home. So much to love. In spite of the spiky plants, still very much PNW.

    I actually like the term "chaos gardening." Chaos gets a bad rap.

    1. While I generally have a hard time seeing what others see when they identify a garden as being PNW in style, I think I get it here.

  4. I have a hard time matching up those photos with the before shot. What a transformation - and what a range of plants! I'm a little in love with the Cunninghamia but, according to Sunset, it's not suitable to my climate, which is probably a good thing as it'd put me in the line of fire with the "view conservation" police.

    1. Collectors collect! (range of plants) I didn't even mention the range of dogs that call this garden home...

  5. Love the before shot. Really helps us see the transformation. So cool that he kept the chain link fence. I agree that he should not call it chaotic. It’s fascinating, overwhelming, gorgeous.

    1. Tim has (gosh I've lost count) 4 (I think) dogs. That chain link keeps them contained! Overwhelming in a good way, right?

  6. What a makeover. You would never know it's the same property. Those cycad curly fronds are very cool. Like someone took a curling iron to them. What is the variegated plant in the container in the shot before the Ligularia?

    1. Hmmm... are you maybe referring to the shot with the Gunnera perpensa (not ligularia)? I think it's a variegated brugmansia.

    2. That's a baby variegated clerodendrum (for the next house) 😁

  7. What a joyful, abundant jungle. I remember when Tim was getting ready to paint that little house. Thanks for the tour Loree.

  8. A timeless collector's garden made in no time at all. And very "homey"--a place to live in and enjoy, instead of for show. Thanks for the tour of botanical beauties.

  9. Well, everyone else was too polite, so I'm going to dive right in. The boxwood containers make a bold statement and show that there is a sense of humor running amok amongst all the chaos gardening. I so wanted to come up with something more clever to say, but failed. The other thing that made me laugh was the cabbage on a rope.
    Seriously though, I enjoyed seeing how much has been accomplished in 5 years. I can hardly believe it. That's an incredible collection of diverse plants, something for everyone, with great composition. I can't wait to see the bathtub get put to some creative use here. I'm sure Tim will do a much better job of making it look stunning with carnivorous plants than I was able to.


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