Last Sunday afternoon I took myself on the Sellwood Garden Tour, a benefit for the Sellwood Middle School PTA. Two of the six gardens were within easy walking distance of our house, one was on the east side of Sellwood, south of Tacoma, and the remaining three were in Garthwick. Garthwick? Why, yes; you follow SE 13th Avenue south, across the railroad tracks, and there it is, just a stone's throw from the notorious Goodwill bins. Yes, this is the "other side of the tracks" all right -- the upscale side. Garthwick is like the choicer chunks of Eastmoreland grafted onto Sellwood's funky charm. Who knew? Obviously not I.
One of the Garthwick estates belongs to a gardening writer for The Oregonian. Her columns always make me smile. But I will never again feel the slightest twinge of empathy when I read that she's made yet another impulse nursery buy and now must find room to plant it. Poor dear; this woman has acres. A vegetable garden. Ponds. Fountains. Gazebos. Multiple benches and resting places. Herbaceous borders with plants grown to Findhornian proportions. An expanse of flawless lawn. And two potting sheds, a real one and a larger, charming studio-like space labeled Pouting Shed. I could just move in.
The Sellwood-proper garden butts up against, and has in places colonized, the banks of Johnson Creek. That was my second favorite, on location alone, though I suspect it reaches flood stage with some regularity during winter storms.
I came home from the tour exhausted but inspired, and only a teeny bit envious of what I'd seen. I think I've fallen in love with epimedium, which loves shade and looks glorious. I saw some other beautiful shade-lovers, too, which I can't begin to identify.
Monday turned out to be a garden-tour day as well. It's so much easier to look than to, you know, do. Besides, with rare and precious exceptions, the weather these last few weeks hasn't been that conducive to doing.
I'd been promising Jer a trip to Lake Oswego. Yes, we lead such exciting lives. In the three years we've lived here, he'd never been. So we drove down (it's all of 15 minutes away), walked around town a bit, had lunch at St. Honoré Boulangerie, and stopped, en route home, at the Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishops Close. The Bishops Close is the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon. A Sea Ranch friend, a big Episcopalian, had told me about this place, and I'd tucked the info into my copy of Wild in the City, thinking "I should just bop down there one of these days; it can't be that far." It's not; it's shamefully nearby -- just two miles south of the Sellwood Bridge. The gardens, thirteen acres overlooking the Willamette, are unbelievably lush and peaceful, especially on a Monday afternoon in late spring. Some sections are manicured, English style, while others feel like nature barely tamed. Another incredible spot, tucked away so close to home.
I've put up a few more botanical porn shots, including prurient closeups, on my Flickr page.