A Garden So Magical It Made Me Do Something I’d Never Done

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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.

 

old germantown gardens crocosmia rock wallThe 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.

 

old germantown gardens yuccas in potsSome areas were in half shade and half sun.  From here you can go on to the sunny borders or rest a while in this quiet sitting area.

 

old germantown gardens astilbeIn some places, the sunlight pierced the canopy and shined a spotlight on certain plants, like these astilbes.

 

old germantown gardens koi pond with benchI 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.

 

old germantown gardens fish sculptureI love the fish sculptures in the pond.  They move in the breeze.

 

old germantown gardens bigleaf mapleBruce and Jerry’s property is surrounded by towering Douglas firs and bigleaf maples.  Not surprisingly, they have used the opportunity to create some wonderful shade gardens.

 

old germantown gardens woodland pathCrunchy 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.

 

old germantown gardens spent blossomsComing out of the woods, I saw tiny blossoms falling to the ground, and I heard an almost frighteningly loud hum overhead.

 

old germantown gardens hovenia dulcisBees 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.

 

old germantown gardens orange dahliaBack 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.

 

old germantown gardens clematis mash upHow beautiful are these clematises together?

 

old germantown gardens shasta daisiesHumble Shasta daisies are elevated to the next level when combined with threadleaf coreopsis and Lobelia laxiflora.

 

old germantown gardens lilies and clematisThe syrupy-sweet scent of lilies hung in the air.

 

old germantown gardens drinking fountainBruce 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.

 

old germantown gardens variegated tradescantiaSo I did, passing by this fantastically variegated Tradescantia (anyone know the name of this one?),

 

old germantown gardens digiplexus illuminationand this Digiplexus ‘Illumination Flame’—a hot, hot plant among Serious Gardeners this year.

 

old germantown gardens from deck2Inside the house, Jerry was serving up freshly baked pinwheel cookies and mango nectar.  And this was the view from the 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.

 


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8 Responses

  1. Anna K
    Anna K at | | Reply

    I had the pleasure of a walk through that garden the other day too, as part of the Fling. It was a nasty hot day, and I cherished the cool shade of those tall trees more than I can say. As for pictures to remember it by, yours are way better than mine. That light is magical!

  2. Jane / MulchMaid
    Jane / MulchMaid at | | Reply

    It’s a blessing that Bruce and Jerry are such generous hosts: with a garden like theirs, they’d be constantly ousting unsanctioned garden lovers if they didn’t open the garden officially. Like Anna, I enjoyed the garden with the Fling this past weekend. We visited in mid afternoon, which made photography a real challenge. Your photos do much more justice to a lovely Portland treasure of a garden.

  3. ricki
    ricki at | | Reply

    You could visit this garden every day and always spot something new. After this post, I would add any TIME of day. Your words and pictures are yet another way to drink in the joys of Old Germantown Gardens.

  4. Jennifer Wattanvisit
    Jennifer Wattanvisit at | | Reply

    I love Uncle Bruce & Jerry’s gardens!

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