Friday, September 30, 2011

Portland Japanese Garden

Stone lion near the entrance to the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011. 

Near the Pavilion (9) at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

Water fountain at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

Sand & Stone Garden (7) at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

Stream between the Strolling Pond Garden (2) & the Lower Pond
at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

The Zig Zag Bridge (4) at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

The Heavenly Falls (5) at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

Beautiful pavement at the Portland Japanese Garden May 2011

Click here for more photos of the Portland Japanese Garden.

Although I have visited a number of Japanese Gardens in the Seattle area & in California, I can't say that I know very much about them.  All I can say about the Portland Japanese Garden is that it is the largest & most beautiful Japanese garden I have seen, perhaps the most beautiful of any garden I have visited.  I imagine that everyone that visits this garden is delighted & amazed.  The description below is from the Portland Japanese Garden website.

The Five Gardens
The 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is composed of five distinct garden styles. When we enter a Japanese garden, the desired effect is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility and to experience the feeling of being a part of nature. In a deep sense, the Japanese garden is a living reflection of the long history and traditional culture of Japan. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, there is always “something more” in these compositions of stone, water, and plants than meets the eye.
Three of the essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are stone, the “bones” of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons. Japanese garden designers feel that good stone composition is one of the most important elements in creating a well-designed garden. Secondary elements include pagodas, stone lanterns, water basins, arbors, and bridges. Japanese gardens are asymmetrical in design and reflect nature in idealized form. Traditionally, human scale is maintained throughout so that one always feels part of the environment, not overpowered by it. As Professor Tono wanted to incorporate native trees in our Garden so that it would blend naturally with its environment, some of the plantings here are on a larger scale.

Portland Japanese Garden Map

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Washington Native Formal Shade Garden

Washington Native Formal Shade Garden

Here is a formal shade garden, for Seattle & the Pacific Northwest Coast, using native plants.  The use of native plants has steadily increased in Seattle to the point where most nurseries now stock a fairly wide variety.  While it may be that I have been reading too many European garden blogs, it seems that formal gardens are also becoming more popular.  In any case, there is no need to use native plants only in wild gardens.  If your taste is for symmetry, you can achieve this with native plants.  

Both deciduous & evergreen plants are used in this garden.  Quercus garryana (Garry Oak) is the center of this garden.  It slowly grows to be a large & spreading deciduous tree.  Two sides of the garden are lined with the much smaller Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) which are very colorful in fall.  The most interesting feature of this garden is a double row of Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry).  Reaching 18 feet in height, the arching canes will meet over head at the center of the walks, forming a pleached allee.  Some lower branches may need to be removed for passage.  Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry) can be pruned into relatively uniform hedges.  It is best not to clip them severely.  Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern) is an evergreen perennial lining the walks.  Space these about 18 inches apart.  You will need to choose at least 1 additional groundcover to spread throughout the area behind them.  Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel) &/or Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry) would give the most effective coverage.  Specific shrubs, perennials & groundcovers are indicated.  Use the additional perennials & groundcovers to fill empty spaces.  

The main entry walk is 4 feet wide.  Secondary walks are 3 feet wide.  You can pave these in brick, stone or concrete.  Use mortar, or the cracks will be invaded by plants.  The entire garden is 40 feet by 30 feet across.  Seattle lots are usually 40 or 50 feet wide.  If your lot is 50 feet wide, you can add 2 more rows of Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) along the sides.  Because this plan is symmetrical, solar orientation won’t matter.  This garden would be best in a shaded area.  The trees & shrubs are tolerant of sun & shade.  They will eventually grow to shade the woodland plants beneath them.  If you have room, you can add other gardens beyond this.  A bosque or thicket would work well, especially along property lines.  Remove the benches & continue the walks into adjacent spaces. 

Washington Native Formal Shade Garden Plan

AC = Acer circinatum (Vine Maple): total # 16
G = Quercus garryana (Garry Oak): total # 1
PH = Physocarpus capitatus (Ninebark): total # 4
R = Rhododendron macrophyllum: total # 12, evergreen
S = Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry): total # 8
V = Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry): total # 12, evergreen
AR = Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard): total # 4
B = Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern): total # 72, evergreen
E = Erythronium oregonum (Fawn Lily): total # 8
P = Polystichum munitum (Sword Fern): total # 12, evergreen
TE = Tellima grandiflora (Fringecup): total # 16, evergreen
TR = Trillium ovatum (Wakerobin): total # 4
A = Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger): total # 8, evergreen
D = Dicentra formosa (Bleeding Heart): total # 12

Additional Perennials & Groundcovers
Achlys triphylla (Vanilla Leaf)
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry): evergreen
Corydalis scouleri (Scouler's Corydalis)
Disporum hookeri (Hooker’s Fairybells)
Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry): will spread throughout, evergreen
Heuchera glabra, Heuchera micrantha (Alum Root): evergreen
Maianthemum dilatatum (False Lily of the Valley): will spread throughout
Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel): will spread throughout
Smilacina stellata (Starry False Solomon’s Seal): will spread throughout
Tiarella trifoliata (Foamflower): evergreen
Tolmiea menziesii (Piggyback Plant): evergreen
Vancouveria hexandra (Inside-out Flower)

To learn more about these plants read Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar & MacKinnon, or visit the Washington Native Plant Society website.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Volunteer Park Conservatory in August

Seasonal Display House August 2011

Seasonal Display House August 2011 

Cactus House August 2011

Cactus House August 2011 

Fern House August 2011 
 Fern House August 2011  

 Bromeliad House August 2011 

The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a welcome respite from the cold Seattle rain. It is open except on Mondays, even on holidays, from 10 to 4. The conservatory has 5 houses, each quite different. There are bromeliad, palm, fern, seasonal display & cactus houses.  It is hard to say which is most interesting.  The seasonal displays are changed 6 times each year.  Plants are often replaced in all of the houses. I think Volunteer Park is the greatest park in Seattle.  Not only is the park beautiful, but it has a number of first-rate attractions including the conservatory, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Isamu Noguchi's Black Sun & the panoramic view from the Water Tower.  The park is easily reached from Downtown Seattle by the 10 Capitol Hill bus, which stops at the park.

Friday, September 9, 2011

August Garden Pictures & Bloom Times

Anemone x hybrida August 2011

Calluna vulgaris 'Wickwar Flame' & Hebe x pimeleoides 'Quicksilver' August 2011

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise' & Echinops ritro August 2011

Lilium 'White Henryi' August 2011

 Verbascum bombyciferum August 2011

Below is a list of plants that began to bloom in my garden in Seattle in August 2011. I recorded the date when the 1st flower opened, not when they were in bud. I think this information is helpful in planning your garden. If you have room for more plants that bloom in August, you can choose something new that will bloom with something you have, or you can fill temporal gaps between blooms.  Nurseries in Seattle usually sell plants when they are in bloom. I have included dates from previous years. Weather conditions probably account for most of the difference in bloom times.

August 2011 was  slightly cooler & much drier than normal.  The average monthly maximum temperature was 75.8F/24.3C.  The normal average monthly temperature is 76.3F/24.6C.  The highest temperature was 87F/30.5C, the lowest 52F/11C.  We had 0.13 inches of rain, 0.75 less than normal.  It rained lightly on 4 days.  There were 6 cloudy days, 14 partly cloudy days & 11 sunny days.

08-04-11 Erica terminalis
08-05-11 Callistemon rigidus
08-05-11 Galtonia candicans 8-01-08
08-05-11 Lilium 'Black Beauty' 8-01-10
08-09-11 Echinops ritro
08-10-11 Crocosmia 'Corwin's Brilliant' 8-01-10, 8-08-08
08-10-11 Liatris spicata 8-03-10, 8-11-08
08-14-11 Calluna 'Wickwar Flame' 8-06-10, 8-08-08
08-17-11 Agapanthus africanus 8-08-08
08-17-11 Eucomis comosa 8-01-10, 8-17-08
08-17-11 Sedum 'Matrona' 8-19-10, 8-17-08
08-17-11 Sedum 'Vera Jameson' 8-19-10, 8-17-08
08-29-11 Sedum 'Brilliant' 8-22-10

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
Nepeta (Catmint) in the foreground.

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
The shrubs are Physocarpus (Ninebark) & Taxus (Yew) in the foreground.

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
Eremurus (Foxtail Lily) left & Verbascum (Mullein) seem to be best friends.

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
Cimicifuga racemosa (Bugbane) lower right corner & Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
Eremurus (Foxtail Lily) throughout.

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
Primula (Cowslip) in the foreground, Astilbe at center, Iris in the background.

Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden June 2011
This end of the garden is shaded, with Aruncus aethusifolius (Goatsbeard) in the foreground.

The Perennial Border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden is not really a perennial border, or even a border at all.  It is a series of mixed planting beds, on a west-facing slope, composed of perennials, shrubs & even some trees.  These beds run in long & narrow tiers along the hillside.  In several places they are crossed by wide concrete stairs.  The paths curve at the ends of the garden, which allows them to be traversed without using the stairs, an excellent arrangement for those with wheelchairs, strollers or weak knees.  Walking on any of these paths, with mixed planting beds on either side, does certainly give the impression of a traditional border.

This hillside, which borders the lawn west of the Visitor Center, was developed in 1992 by the Northwest Perennial Alliance.  It was commonly referred to as The NPA Border.  A small group of people designed it.  A large group of NPA volunteers maintained it.  It felt more of a piece before the renovation that began in 2008.  The earlier paths were narrow, cave-like passages through what felt like a single, massive border.  But maintenance was difficult.  It was barely possible to pass people on the paths.  So now we have the new border, which is less quirky & more functional.  The renovation was extensive.  The old border was swept away, the hillside regraded.  But many plants were saved & replanted.  By the summer of 2011, it was looking good.  The new border was designed by 2 members of the original design team & continues to be maintained by NPA volunteers.