For some, it was too much gorgeousness to take in.
Visitors seemed dazed, and could be heard muttering, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” If you took their reactions out of context, you might have thought they’d been in a car wreck and were in a state of shock.
But I forged on, exploring Old Germantown Gardens—the incredible, almost two-acre garden that Bruce Wakefield and Jerry Grossnickle have built over the past 24 years around their home in the Northwest Portland hills. They opened it up to HPSO members last night.
The sun sets early in the Forest Park hills, and many of the plants were bathed in the glow of the last rays of evening sunlight. The lovely rock walls anchoring several of the terraces were still warm to the touch. The hummingbirds were in full force.
I strolled down another path to the lily pond. There are two koi in the pond, but only two—herons made off with the rest. Jerry recounted a fierce battle with a mink that had acquired a taste for koi, too.
Crunchy gravel paths take you past woodland plants and moss-covered rocks. There are giant Himalayan lilies (Cardiocrinum giganteum) the size of small trees in here. Bruce explained that it takes them seven years to flower from seed, and then they die, so they need to keep seven generations going in order to have flowers every year. They were done blooming.
Bees by the thousands were ravishing this Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis). Bruce said it sounds like a chainsaw during the heat of the day. In fall, the little branches that hold the fruit become rather sweet and edible (hence, the name “raisin tree”), though Bruce said one sampling was enough for him, and he doesn’t have plans to put them on the menu anytime soon.
Back among the sunny borders (though the light was fading), I took in some masterful color combinations. Hot and cool colors were mixed in the perfect proportions. These orange dahlias overwinter in the ground, no lifting necessary. I could get used to this Zone 8 stuff.
Bruce and Jerry were the consummate hosts. How considerate to supply a drinking fountain to your guests! Bruce encouraged everyone to come into the house so that we could also see the garden from the second-story deck.
Driving across town to get back home, I thought about the vibrating raisin tree, the crazy tradescantia, the darting hummingbirds, the humongous lilies. I thought of the tri-color clematises woven together, the lily perfume, the exquisite stonework, and those scrumptious cookies.
I was in such good spirits that I sang along to every song that came on the radio during my drive. I even caught myself singing along—quite cheerfully I might add—to a Steely Dan song.
I hate Steely Dan.