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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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden part one: I Got a Golden Ticket!

As you may recall, I was in Alaska during the first week of July, returned home on the evening of July eighth and would have the ninth to get ready to head out to the Garden Bloggers' Fling in Portland on the tenth.  When Alison, The Bonnie Lassie, not the niece, emailed me with an offer to take her place at a class at the Miller Garden on the ninth, I initially declined.  However, she talked me into going and I'm so glad she did!  It didn't take a lot of coaxing as I'd wanted to see the garden and because of it's location in Seattle's first gated community, only 500 visitors a year are allowed to see the garden.  How lucky was I to get to visit the garden with no effort whatsoever?



For information about Elizabeth C. Miller, her garden, and her contribution to gardening, see this post.  See Alison's post here, Loree's posts here, and Justin's  posts here.


Elizabeth Miller had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants, was a collector and gardener.  The class I participated in was called "Plant Introductions from the Miller Garden." 
 
Plants, now common in commerce, were once rarities first grown in this very garden. 

 
Ms. Miller sponsored plant exploration expeditions and had accounts with nurseries abroad.  Whenever they got something new or unusual, Betty would certainly get as many as possible.  One of the stories told during the class was that of Miller ordering 5 tiny whips of some new tree (an Abies of some sort) at a cost of $100.00 each at a time when the median U.S. annual  household income was about $7000.00.  She kept one or two for herself and sold the others to plant collectors like Mrs. Wagner of Lakewold Gardens.  The others were not so keen on paying so much for such tiny things but went along with it anyway.

 
Don't try this at home Kids -
Miller loved trees and some that she planted are state champions (the largest tree of their type in the state.)  Like many avid gardeners, she didn't worry a whole lot about the future when she planted tiny specimens so close to the house. Can you see the roof in the picture below?  I'd sure be nervous in a windstorm if I lived here!
 
 
Some of the plants in the garden are the only ones in cultivation and will probably never make it into commerce because, in the words of our wonderful instructor, head gardener Holly, they're not all that exciting to a lot of people.  (These plants are not those!)


Roscoea 'Cinnamon Stick' perhaps?

A view of the house from the tiny and only lawn in the garden.

 The trees, they do grow high!



Mahonias were a favorite of Ms. Miller and many beautiful examples can be found here!


Dactylorhiza

The crested form of this fern made my heart skip a beat.  Or was it that I forgot to take my medication that day?  One way or the other, the fern is cool.

Such well done layering of foliage!  Notice the Wollemia nobilis, one of four in the garden. 
 
Hakonechloa in the foreground was also a Miller Garden introduction.  At one time, this was the only garden in the state that had it!




Really, there is a very nice home back there somewhere!

Pleasing combination!

The indumentum on this rhododendron glows in the summer sun.  Who cares about flowers?  Notice the meconopsis paniculata foliage at the bottom.

Tomorrow, we'll go down the hill a bit and see the sunnier part of the garden. Leafless Arctostaphylos left in situ after it's demise, is still adding sculptural beauty to the garden.


 

26 comments:

  1. I love this story! I'm glad you listened Alison and went there! What a beautiful place!!

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    1. Alison is full of good advice! I too am glad that I listened!

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  2. I'm so glad you went and had a good time. You got some great photos too. That Roscoea is lovely. I still have photos from the fern class that I haven't shared. Now I can't remember the names of any of them.

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    1. Thanks again for letting me take your place, it was a blast!

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  3. Thanks for the Hakonechloa, Ms. Miller!

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    1. Downright neighborly of her, wasn't it?

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  4. What a privilege for you (and pleasure for me to have the photos & explanations to enjoy)! I look forward to the next post....and wish I could remember even ONE of those plants' names!

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    1. It was a great tour! When I can't remember plant names, I make things up. Try it, it's fun and amazes people.

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  5. Oh you take me back! Such a lovely lovely garden and I'm glad you took Alison up on the offer. Funny you're splitting your posts the same as I did, shady and then sunny. They almost seem like entirely different gardens don't they? (I mean as in growing in different locations separated by a great distance)

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    1. The two gardens do seem very different! Sorry I forgot to link ot your posts but will remedy that when I get home!

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  6. Beautiful shady plantings (my favorite), and you captured them well! Good job getting that golden ticket Charlie/Peter. Virtue is rewarded again. Plus it must have felt a little like an undercover mission really. Might be the beginning of a new career, together with your investigative skills re Weather Maintenance :)

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    1. The golden ticket just fell in my inbox but it can't have been virtue that was rewarden as I gave that up a long time ago.

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  7. This just proves that very little blooms are required to create a fantastic garden; very much the essence of the PNW is captured here. When I saw the amazing cones I knew there is trouble ahead. The producers of such magnificent cones are enormous trees. I wish there was a dwarf verity I could fit in my garden.

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    1. There are small Abies korienas that will produce cones like that at a very young age, like in the one gallon pot in which you bring them home from the nursery. They're fairly slow growing as well!

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  8. It appears that you've had a very good - and plant-filled - summer!

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    1. You're right! I certainly can't complain but do wish that the summer could last for a few more months!

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  9. I remember this garden being featured on other blogs before, always a treat to see photos of it of course. The heritage and contribution to horticulture of this garden are undeniable.

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    1. I felt fortunate to finally be able to see it in person!

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  10. Wow. Lucky you! We have not visited this garden. I think we need to.

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    1. I was very lucky and think that your garden club should go!

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  11. These are delightful pictures! Thanks for sharing this awesome place.

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    1. Thanks, Linda, it was my pleasure! Thanks for coming along!

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  12. Thanks for the foliage overload, Outlaw! I must find a way to get this type of thing into shady exceptions in my designs, using plants that don't mind this high, dry air. Inspired yet again...

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  13. Reassuring to hear that even the pros sometimes neglect to think ahead to the mature sizes of things. Such an Elegant garden.

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  14. What a lovely garden and to learn about the plants from the owner! I really enjoy the Joan Biaz song too!

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  15. What a fascinating garden! The Abies cones look like they are decorated with cutouts of butterflies. I like Mahonia a lot too, it would be fun to see them all. I also like the shrub border in the photo with the house and lawn. What an interesting tour!

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