A warm Saturday in mid July was perfect for touring the garden of Art Converse, whose impressive resume includes a career in the Navy, being a firefighter, and building houses including his own.
"My garden is located apprximately six miles south ot Issauquah on one acre in an enchanting area called May Valley."
"the garden has many 'themes' to enjoy, including a rose garden which contains 60 roses, a large vegetable garden, many palm trees and tropical plants, nine ponds, a spawning creek and various guest cottages."
The big brugmansias in the front garden caught my eye right away.
In past years, art would plant them directly in the ground and dig them every fall. This year, he's keeping them in the pots which he's partially buried. The black pot is full of potatoes which Art had recently harvested from his vegetable garden.
Huge dahlias cavort with hardy banana leaves in this wonderful garden.
Part of the rose garden.
This pond is right next to the house.
Having been a builder and remodeled many homes, Art would often reuse materials that would have otherwise been discarded. The inspiration for many of the outbuildings has been these found materials.
Art says that this is the favorite guest cottage of his children when they visit as it is heated and has two stories.
Here's the entry and porch around back.
This outbuilding contained workout equipment, a private gym.
"The house, outbuildings and gardens are a culmination of 28 years of collecting and propagating over 1500 various trees, shrubs and plants. The grounds are very walkable and full of 'inhabitants', including thousands of frogs, koi fish, mason bees, and even an occasional owl."
The grounds are made for entertaining!
Sunken fire pit with built in benches.
This gives a bit of perspective. The large dining area is on the right; the fire pit on the left.
At the back of that area, we enter the secret garden.
This guest cottage is the favorite of Art's in-laws from Sweden who don't mind that it's not heated.
One could imagine several families residing in the guest cottages for the summer and getting together for outdoor meals and conversations lasting into the night. More than just a garden full of interesting plants, this place feels like a wonderful retreat center in the country.
"I enjoy giving extensive tours and showing many of the rare plants I've accumulated through the years." Thanks Art for opening your amazing garden for the first time to the Northwest Perennial Alliance!