Monday, April 1, 2024

The Walters Garden—from the VHPG Study Weekend

The tour booklet we received at registration for the Vancouver Study Weekend event had a suggested route for seeing the open gardens. Since I started my day at the UBC Botanical Garden (skipping the morning lectures) I had a head start on those who attended the morning lectures, I also chose to do the gardens in reverse. Once I started to cross paths with friends who had already toured this, the Walters Garden, I heard the excitement in their voices when they asked if I'd been...they really wanted to know what I thought of it!

When I arrived, I understood. This was unlike any other garden on the tour! Left of the entry driveway...

And to the right...

Stepping to the right and looking across the driveway...

From the booklet: "The Walters Japanese Garden has been an ever-evolving work for 30+ years. When you enter the property, you enter a rock landscape that places the mid-century modern residence on a mountain cliff with waterfalls. Take a few moments to enjoy the front before entering the main garden through a gate on the west side of the house. Here is a layered landscape from the slate patio to the back fence and beyond. The mountain landscape is a stroll garden with multiple pathways, making all parts of this dry water garden accessible. The garden is simply planted with pines, Serbian spruces, azaleas, ferns, and moss, along with two maples, a few other broadleaf evergreens, and a smattering of perennials. It also features a traditional Japanese Teahouse." Since they didn't address it in the garden description I should add these rocks were all brought in to build the garden.

We're still in the front garden here...

Starting the climb to go around the side of the house...

Turning to look at the front of the house as I go around the side.

And wow... here's the back garden...

It's 100% not my thing, but I completely appreciate someone who is living their garden dream so completely.

Looking towards the back of the house.

Climbing further up the "mountain".

There was so much rock, and so few plants, that every plant stood out as special. Here saxifrage and sedum.

Detail of the fence meeting the rocks.

So much empty space that could have had plants!

Oh... greenhouse on the roof!

The tea house (which wasn't open and looked like it might have been used for storage).

The zigzag tiles were one of my favorite details.

In front of the teahouse.

Now I am down at house level, but on the opposite side of where I first entered.

Looking at the plantings the border the back patio...

Since it wasn't marked as off limits I went ahead and climbed the stairs to the roof of the house.

Looking down on the back "garden".

Rooftop lounge space.

And a little rooftop garden. Kudos to the Study Weekend organizers for finding such an unusual garden for the tour itinerary!

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  1. This is certainly a grand garden in it's scale. Wonder if the rocks were there and they built the house around it or vice versa. Love the little roof top garden.

    1. I forgot to add that the rocks came in... thanks for the nudge!

  2. Wow, that is a LOT of rock. At first glance, it was overwhelming, but at second glance, I realized how many nooks and crannies there are that are filled with plants. I bet this garden is glorious when the alpines are in flower.

    1. I wish you could have been there to see it, pretty interesting.

  3. I appreciate the artistry and attention to detail in this garden, as well as the careful maintenance I expect it requires. I'd love to visit it; however, I couldn't live with a color palette that limited. I do covet the rooftop greenhouse though. If only there was a way to level an area of my house's roof for a greenhouse! Of course I suspect I'd also need a knee-friendly ladder to reach it...

    1. Definitely not something that's aging gardener friendly. I'd want my greenhouse easily accessible.

  4. Although I'm a fan of Japanese-style gardens, this one feels a little rock heavy. Or rather plant sparse. That said, I found multiple inspiring vignettes. In photo 28 there's a planted up rock in the the "gravel pool" (low center) and another to its left. And the planted up lantern cap in the following photo. those are cool and remind me of the epic Pyrrosia-on-a-rock...
    The tea house is beautiful. Too bad it wasn't accessible.

    1. Yes, definitely pyrrosia-on-a-rock-esque! Plant sparse is a great description.

  5. I do like the view from the bottom of the back garden looking up. I'm a huge rock fan, but this feels a little cold. Definitely want MORE plants, lol. I applaud them for making their garden unique, it is lovely.

  6. These are all such beautiful gardens! Each garden has a zen serene feeling to them! Thanks for sharing, hope you have an amazing spring!

    xoxo, Midori

  7. My favorite parts are where the rocks are becoming smothered by different mosses like in #13 and the roof top garden.

  8. Hi from Vancouver , I was the person that asked the Walters if they would be on the tour , I was very surprised when I went to see the garden in the autumn before the study weekend as I had not seen the garden since 2017 .. when it was mostly water falls and ponds in the back . Mr Walter informed me that there was a change a few years ago due leaks that became too costly to fix and then as we have all experienced in the PNW water shortages , made the decision to go waterless . There were many publications available to view at the garden that day that showed the original complete with koi ponds and many more perennials that complement a Japanese garden . Also the Teahouse - contains an amazing artist studio, a home gym with deep pool for bathing .I am glad it made an impression on those that attended the Study weekend and Yes it is not too everyone's taste, but it what he and his family love ,and they have a large allotment garden plot to grow vegetables and fruit out in Richmond by the Fraser river.CHEERS , looking forward to visiting Portland next year for your Study weekend.


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