Friday, July 29, 2011

The Birrell and Tucker Gardens of Seattle

Our first stop on the Garden Blogger's Seattle Fling, these two gardens were a joy to explore. Side by side neighbors, I entered the Birrell garden first and enjoyed the textural front plantings.


front steps

front door

front path

But the backyard vegetable and cutting garden felt like the true heart and soul of the place. Shimmering with happy bees and butterflies and bursting with vibrant color, undaunted by the vivid blue shed, but rather playing happily off the color, the plantings in this space felt joyous indeed.

silver eryngiumeryngium bee fav

borage and grasses

pink lilies blue shed

How could any vegetables picked in this garden not taste good?

veggies and herbspath

orange lilyrosa sericea ptericantha

But not only did the Birrells have a great working garden they also had a wonderful space for play. Outside the blue garden room was the perfect lawn for croquet or just lounging around.

apple tree and croquet

I loved the details in the garden too - like the airstream birdhouse and the beautiful metal gates.

bird airstreamside path


I walked next door to check out the Tucker Garden. The dry(ish) gravel garden had me feeling like I was back home. It's funny how I can be so jealous of Seattle folks with so much rain, yet there seems to be some folks that prefer the dry Mediterranean climate. Well, this was a beautiful gravel garden. The plantings softened the stone nicely and cheerfully added color here and there to the soft palate.

gravel garden

stepsdrumstick allium

front plantings

sideritisgravel beds

stone front yard


verbascum and gravel path

The grays and tans gave way to a more cottage-y feel in the backyard.

garden archpond with lily pads

plantings and patio


lilies, astrantia, phygelius



greenhouse doorcourtyard fountain


Thank you so much to the Birrell and Tucker families for letting us visit your beautiful gardens. I'm envious of the extended time you get to spend in them!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bloedel - My Happy Place

On the last day of the Garden Blogger's Seattle Fling we visited The Bloedel Reserve and I am utterly in love now. I'm usually not one for estate gardens - sedate lawns, orderly plantings, stuffy house - but Bloedel was something else entirely. It was truly amazing. There is some sort of magic there. The careful attention in the layout, with emphasis on framing compositions in the garden as well as the well-timed revealing of vistas, the play of light and dark, reflections in the water and the contrast of hardscape vs. plant material is so wonderfully executed. It is a wonderful testament to the skill and passion of not only the garden creators but to the people who continue to maintain and direct the garden now.
perfectly shaped
willow reflection
Walking into Reflection Garden made me feel as if I was walking into a church. I hushed my voice when I spoke to others nearby. A sense of quiet and calm fell over me as the light slipped in through the tops of the trees like light filtering through stained glass windows. The single bench felt more like a pew where one could give thanks to the ever-wonderful Spirit of nature.
forest in the pool
temple pew
The Japanese Garden was delightful in its rustic simplicity.
japanese garden pathway
The Moss Garden felt primordial but also somehow unearthly and unreal. The glowing moss seemed to be something from another planet.
moss garden path
mossy composition
The overturned tree exposing its roots is an example of the fantastic maintenance of the garden. The tree is allowed to stay and become an impressive sculpture amidst the moss. Two wispy shrubs on either side of the root mass prevent a clear view until one is up close and face-to-face with the intertwining roots. The impact is heightened by being forced to view it this way. Genius!
toppled tree
root sculpture
Much thought also seems to be given of transitions from one area to another. They are accomplished in the most beautiful way.
mossy curve
I really enjoyed getting to talk to some of the Bloedel gardeners. They're so great!
The woodland garden was a wonderfully wild and wet experience!
rainy forest
boardwalk in the woodstree stacking
Even within this more "untamed" area, careful thought is given to delightful surprises. I walked along, never knowing how close I was to a wildlife pond until I came around a tree to be surprised by a window onto the water. Here is a photo of the approach (with no idea of the pond beyond):
the reveal
And here is a few steps further down the path when the window opens up to reveal the water:
revealed pond
The play of light and dark, the tension of border between woods and meadow is a classic pull in the human brain - the protection of hiding in the woods versus the relief of being in the open and being able to see what is approaching. One's preference of one over the other can be interesting to examine. On this day, I was enjoying them both. The grass of the meadow was beautiful with its undulations and subtle color.
rainy medow
meadow sea
It had been raining when I was in the trees and after walking for a bit with my umbrella up, I realized that there was no rain falling - even though I could still hear the distinct and loud sound of rain. I put down my umbrella and realized it was the trees that surrounded the meadow that were still "raining" as the water dripped from leaf to leaf. It was an interesting experience to stand there in the open, staying dry, while being completely surrounded by the sound of loud rain - not of dripping - but of rain because of the large number of trees nearby.
glowing beacon
I really enjoyed the placement of benches around the garden too. I didn't sit in any of them because I was briskly trying to not miss an inch of the place. I'd love to return and spend some extended time absorbing the beauty.
japanese garden bench
pond bench
house bench
It was a wet day but I think we all had a great time. Thank you to the Bloedel staff for such a wonderful experience! I'm dreaming of coming back sometime on a crisp autumn day to see the colors turn, as a counterpoint to this wonderfully green day. I'm sure the garden is lovely in every season!