Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be traveling this year I’ve been re-living past trips via the photos on my computer and putting them into slideshows. As you know, photos take a lot of editing to limit the number to what a person can endure who wasn’t on the trip. I’ve got photos of Poland, Costa Rica, southern Mexico, Hawaii, Guatemala and Honduras. But the photos I’m really enjoying seeing again are those from the destination nurseries and public gardens I visited with my sister to islands in the Puget Sound.
Years ago, before I lost my sister, I would visit her on Fox Island, near Gig Harbor, Washington. Off we’d go by ferry to one of the public gardens or destination nurseries on another island. We visited the islands of Vashon, Whidbey, Vancouver, Bainbridge and San Juan. Any destination was sure to provide lush landscapes and a cornucopia of colorful flowers.
Vancouver Island is home to the famous Butchart Gardens, transformed a 100 years ago from a limestone quarry. Their website is https://www.butchartgardens.com and worth a few minutes to explore. Smaller and more intimate, Abkhazi Garden offer a fine example of what you can do with a large lot full of rocks and trees when you put your mind to it. https://www.abkhaziteahouse.com/abkhazi-garden.
Another ferry, another island. This time the ferry takes us to Whidbey Island. Here there are flowers blooming everywhere. Hanging baskets of purple and lilac supertunia, lobelia and red ivy geraniums grace every light pole. The container plantings burst with color. White rugosa roses grow on a split rail fence overlooking the harbor in Langley.
Another highlight of my tour of gardens on Whidbey Island was a visit to Chocolate Flower Farm. If you like deep burgundy, chocolate, black, midnight blue, deep magenta or mahogany flowers and foliage like I do, you would be amazed by this garden. No surprise but chocolate cosmos are featured prominently in the perennial beds https://www.chocolateflowerfarm.com/
Another of our stops on this island is Meekerk Rhododendron Garden. This peaceful woodland garden features dozens of varieties of rhododendrons and we were drawn to one called Golfer with silver fuzzy leaves. Another one had velvety rusty red leaves that sparkled when backlit by the late afternoon sun. http://www.meerkerkgardens.org/
Bainbridge Island is home to the world famous Bloedel Reserve. A place to connect with nature, this garden allows only a few visitors at a time so each can enjoy the solitude and beauty of the 150 acres. Their website will hook you for hours of inspiration. https://bloedelreserve.org/
Vashon Island. a large green island at the southern end of Puget Sound is home to The Country Store and Gardens. This nursery, in the heart of the island, boasts mature plantings on a 10 acre site with the nursery featuring rare and and unusual plants along with a wide selection of perennials, shrubs and blueberries. The flowers of a deep, dark purple clematis mingled with a rich pink, climbing cabbage rose on a long trellis surrounding the front porch of the store. A dead fruit tree was left to provide support for another midnight purple clematis blooming above a bed of deep red Lucifer crocosmia. I’ll remember this exciting pairing for a future design where the spreading crocosmia won’t be a problem. https://www.countrystoreandfarm.com/
Closer to home Hakone Estate and Garden in Saratoga is now open. Also now open is Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside and Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. So if your out and about, be sure to visit one of these almost-local gardens. And check out the websites of the destination gardens and nurseries I’ve mentioned.
Nurseries and gardens nourish our soul. They are more important now than ever before. If you want to stay healthy, stay gardening.