Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Hillside Beauty of the Old Germantown Gardens

On my recent trip to Portland, Oregon to attend the Garden Bloggers Fling, the planning committee lined up some awesome gardens. We saw public gardens, nursery gardens, and the private gardens of local residents. The garden on Old Germantown Road was the first private garden we saw.

It was late in the day when we arrived at this garden and, boy, was it hot. Somehow I didn't expect Portland to be so toasty. The bus parked at the top of the hill or was it the bottom? I don't remember. It was so hot, I felt like I walked up hill both ways. Gosh, that sounds pretty wimpy coming from a Texan. I hope they don't revoke the Jalapeno Pepper Patch I earned in Scouts.

Coming down the driveway all thoughts of the heat evaporated and I started to get excited. This was going to be a special garden. I could feel it!

Throughout the garden, I noticed deep beds and layered plantings. I love this cottage garden look, which I've learned can be achieved by tightly packing your beds with whatever plant palette your climate allows for. I'm still working on my own and someday I hope to achieve this effect of deep layering.

Masses of buttery dahlias with dark greenish, purple foliage created a bit of a photographic traffic jam.

Mixed in with the dahlias were the dried flowers of spring alliums. Alliums don't grow well in Central Texas, which is too bad because I love the interesting sculptural element that they bring to the garden. To get this look in my area, I think I will try planting elephant garlic in the fall. Garlic is a type of allium, so the look is similar. I got the idea from a garden I visited in Hutto and I think it really works.

Here's another idea to keep the look all year round. These adorable metal allium lookalikes are on my garden art wish list.

The Old Germantown Gardens consist of nearly two acres of cottage gardens, sun gardens, woodland gardens and much more. It's really quite spectacular as I found out.

We were told to meander through at our own pace following a path that would lead us back up to the house where we could take in an overview of the garden from the owner's deck.

When we started walking, the pathways were very sunny with bright flowers.

This is the view from the path just before heading down into the woodland garden.

When we descended into the woodlands, the plant palette changed to beautiful hydrangeas, evergreens, and Japanese maples.

Being originally from New Hampshire, the woodlands made me instantly nostalgic. These were the plants of my youth. We used to call the seeds from the maple trees helicopters because of the way they spiral downward when released by the tree. It's amazing how gardens are capable of evoking long forgotten memories.

Beautiful evergreens of every hue surrounded us as we passed through the woodland.

Back into the sun we went. The transition was amazing. Nature couldn't have set the stage any better, yet this garden was created by man. Amazing!

What goes down must go up again. We traveled up the dry hillside and I started to see the familiar sights of cactus, yucca and other sun loving plants.

A little pool at the bottom of another little climb led us to this beautiful hot tub.

The greenhouse behind the hot tub was landscaped lushly with more gorgeous plants. This place was incredible!

Arriving back at the house, our hosts provided us with much appreciated cold beverages. I drank down my orange mango, fruity goodness with gusto and headed to the back deck for the final view.

Back inside, sitting at my host's dining table, I gazed out at this amazing view and I wondered if the owners took it for granted after seeing it everyday for years? Nah! Silly me!

Thanks for sharing your garden with us. This gardener is in awe!


  1. Wow! That's only two acres?

    1. I just double checked the tour program and it says "nearly 2 acres". My home sits on 2 acres and it doesn't feel half the size. I think it's the trees. Our property was heavily wooded when we first moved here in the early 90's and it felt a lot bigger.

  2. If you are in as warm a zone as I think you are, Agapanthus makes a good Allium look-alike and the seed heads last and last.

    Two acres doesn't sound very big until you start weeding and edging.

    1. I've seen agapanthus in gardens in my area, but I've never noticed the seed pods. I bet people cut them off. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give them a try.

  3. Oh, this is another garden I'm really sorry I missed! Looking forward to more Fling posts from you. We do love our Dahlias and Alliums here, and our big evergreens.

  4. You got excellent photos. Great post! It was a spectacular garden, wasn't it? The towering lilies!

  5. Ha! I totally hear you - it was so hot, it was almost bewildering! I know I didn't really take the sunny parts in, as I darted straight for the shady parts as we got off the bus. It was great to see the sunny parts through your eyes. And good heavens - that cold mango drink and those fabulous cookies afterward was pure magic!

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