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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Lifetime of Gardening: The Garden of Sylvia Duryee

"This garden has about 50 fern specdies, small to large, and some 45 species of other plants and shruibs, along with many natives.  There are six arisaema species and five Asarum species.  there are also hepaticas and primulas, including repens, and pulsillom.  There is a scree garden and a vegetable garden on top of the carport roof.  I grow many plants from seed and ferns from spore.  This property has been in my hands for over 50 years.  I look forward to visitors."  - Mrs. Duryee's description of her garden.

Upon parking the car, we are impressed with the size of this holly hedge.  Notice the potato plants emerging in front of the hedge.

The house, built in 1925, sits on a .33 acre lot packed with quite an assortment of plants!  We weren't able to speak with Mrs. Duryee but her gardener of 30 years was very enthusiastic about showing off the garden.

 This place had a very peaceful, comfortable and lived-in feeling.  Fifty of Mrs Duryee's eighty eight years have been spent in this garden, planting, editing, evolving.

 I loved the density of plantings which left very little soil visible.  






This well thought out garden is at once both  wild and cultivated, naturalistic and formal. 

Imagine hearing stories of fifty Seattle winters of losses and survivors, of the plants grown here over the years, the snow storms and droughts.

Skunk cabbage and ferns.  If the garden could talk, what tales would it tell.





Here's part of the rooftop vegetable garden above the carport.  

A view of the side garden from the carport roof.

Back on ground level are these miniature scree gardens.  


On the way back out of the garden.
 A glance back at the front porch reveals vases of garden souvenirs. 

Thank you, Mrs Duryee,  for opening your garden and for such a memorable visit to your special garden!


23 comments:

  1. That was a very memorable garden. And you did it justice. Your photos were wonderful! I love that simple one near the top of the Heuchera (probably Palace Purple), with two different Sedums. It must be quite an amazing experience to garden in the same spot for 50 years.

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    1. It felt comfortable being there, didn't it - like a visit with an old friend.

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  2. The garden is beautiful, and I'm glad Mrs Duryee is receiving help caring for it. I love the driftwood incorporated into the garden as well as the rooftop use. I hope Mrs Duryee gets help harvesting as well. Choosing between planting the parking strip or growing a hedge I'd go with the planting, creating that much more work for myself. I never remember to consider that when I plant...

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    1. Oh yes, she gets help with everything. I hear you, planting and making more work are my choices too. The privacy and enclosure the hedge in this garden gives is really nice though!

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  3. Wow, 50 years. I can't imagine. Did that "dead" tree fern (the really tall one) show any signs of life?

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    1. Yes, there was a great bunch of new fronds beginning to unfurl in the center. Really pretty amazing as I'd imagine that the tree fern has been there for a while.

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  4. 50 years curating the same garden! I can only imagine that experience. I'm very impressed by Mrs. Duryee's efforts, including her willingness to expand her garden to unlikely places like the top of the carport.

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    1. Sometimes I don't even want to garden in my space for another day say nothing of that many years. Pretty amazing!

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  5. Wouldn't we enjoy seeing photos of her garden from 25 years ago to see the changes?

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    1. Oh yes! Maybe one from every five years or so to show when things were added, etc. Did she fall in and out of love with certain plants? How was her current selection winnowed from all of the plants available?

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  6. What a lovely well planned garden, such beautiful planting combinations, everything looked so happy together. Thank you for taking us along with you.

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    1. It's a pleasure to have such fine company! Thanks for coming along Pauline.

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  7. hello Mr. TOG and what a wonderful garden to visit .. I would love to get "lost" in it completely in fact .. I also love your statement on how tightly the plants are situated together ... that is my goal as well .. leave no spaces for weeds ! haha
    Yes .. a life time of stories from this garden can be told ... beautiful !
    Joy : )

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this garden. It's one that will stay with me for quite some time. It certainly isn't the largest, grandest, or flashiest garden I've ever seen but it breathed a quiet confidence of place that I will treasure.

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  8. Fifty years, quite an achievement!

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  9. We have been there several times. it is a wonderful garden, and the gardener is quite an expert plants-woman.

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    1. It is a wonderful garden and I've been learning many cool things about Mrs. Duryee lately.

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  10. That garden is so charming. I love the massive holly hedge. It must have been quite small in 1964. What a privilege, to garden for 50 years.

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    1. Wonderful indeed to garden for that long!

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  11. To garden in the same place for 50 years. I hope I can claim that achievement one day. I love this garden. It has a relaxed feel (once you get past the hedge) and you can tell it's the garden of a plant geek, absolutely packed with treasures that she's acquired over the years. It doesn't have the "designed" look of the last garden you showed us, but you can tell that every placement and change has been intentional and full of love and care. Beauty in chaos. Thanks for sharing the tour with us!

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  12. Such an old world feel...and a great example of what 50 years (and a gardener) can accomplish.

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  13. Why don't my troughs look like hers? I guess I need to accumulate another 20 years of wisdom. Great garden.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.