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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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Day in the Country Part Two: The Chase Garden

The Chase Garden is just up the road a piece from the Old Goat Farm which I've visited several times.  However, this was my first visit to the Chase which has an interesting history.  Look here for more information about the garden, here for the fascinating story of the Chases, and here for Garden Design's photo album.  Who would have guessed that Ione Chase, one of the creators of this garden, often gardened in pearls?

Are these the three birches that entered the U.S. by crossing the Canadian Border in Emmott Chase's boots?  In chatting with Nancy, the amazingly knowledgeable plant woman who works at Vassey Nursery in Puyallup and knew Ione Chase, she mentioned that some people would like to change the plants a bit to spice up the garden.  One area that sometimes gets attention in this respect is the three birches under planted with Viburnum davidii, which now has a bad rep because of overuse in gas station plantings.  Ione loved plants but practiced something in her gardening that I've yet to apply to my own garden.  “If you love plants, if you collect plants, simplicity can be the hardest thing to achieve. If you get too many different plants, the simplicity slips through your fingers.”  - Ione Chase

The Chases grew up in this area, loved the way the land looks and didn't try to compete with the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

"Ione asked newly graduated landscape architect Rex Zumwalt to draft a plan for the garden immediately around the house. She showed him clippings of Japanese gardens and the new modernist style gardens in California. He drew a plan with concrete terraces and covered lanai, narrow stepping stones and bridges, and pebbled reflecting pools. The style was new to the Pacific Northwest, but became the region’s prevailing garden style of the 1950s and 60s."  - Lifted from the Chase Garden website.

Anne Raver's beautiful article from 2002, while Ione was still living in the garden in her 90's can be found here

For a great timeline of the garden and more photos, check out the Garden Conservancy site.

Entrance Garden.  That white stuff in the sky is blocking a breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier.   We who live here are accustomed to envisioning it through the clouds.  Everything about the house and garden enhance this view. Ione knew that she could never win a competition against such beauty so wisely chose not to try.   Yes, Juniper and Heather.

Check out a  Chase Garden blog with pictures of the garden when significant things are happening like the blooming of the Bear Grass.

Picture the mountain.  

It was interesting to learn that the Chases spent their summers at their place in British Columbia so the garden was designed to take care of itself during our dry summers.  The Chases were ahead of their time in design and resource conservation.

The shady woods opens to a sloping alpine garden.  All it was missing was Julie Andrews spinning and singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music." While Ms Andrews didn't appear, the nice young man who greeted me at the entrance to the garden, told me what was in bloom, and gave me a map & garden guide, came walking down the path and said, "Are you the Outlaw Gardener?"  As if seeing this gem of a garden for the first time wasn't surprise enough, it turns out that Will, the head gardener at the Chase, is a friend of my blooging friend Evan Bean (The Practical Plant Geek.) They'd met when they were both working on the east coast and it turns out that Will lives only blocks from me in Tacoma.  Small world and a delightful surprise!

Here's Will looking quite at home in the garden which he maintains.  Picture it, a Tyrolean hat, lederhosen, suspenders... It's Wilhelm, the seldom-mentioned Von Trapp child. (Please forgive me Will.  That Sound of Music thing was running through my head.)



Nurse logs left from logging one hundred years ago.  



The orange of this Berberis darwinii shone out like a neon light among all of the more subtle colors of the garden.  It was cleverly sited to be discovered along a path instead of viewed from all over the garden.


Looking back up at the house from the mountain side of the garden.  

Mature specimen of Sciadopitys verticillata (correct me if I'm wrong.)


Will said that there was an arborist at the garden to evaluate the health of this tree when the top snapped off.

And took out half of the Magnolia stellata on the right. 


The magnolia will stay as it's still beautiful viewed from the house. 

The L-shaped bed on the left is full of epimedium blooms which will be followed by the emergence of new foliage to last through the rest of the year.

This is a masterpiece of a garden and we're all the lucky recipients of the Chase's garden gift to the public!

Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ (Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine) is a new addition.  
 Trough gardens hold more alpine treasures. 


More Juniper.  Right plant/right place!  Can you see the base of the mountain in the distance?

Back to the entrance garden.  Acer palmatum has incredible structure. 

The Chase Garden isn't about the newest plant introductions or latest craze but rather a space at peace with itself.  Plants carefully chosen and well placed by masters Ione and Emmott.  Winnowed over time to a mellow beauty at one with it's setting.

So many great things can be learned by studying this garden.  My only regret is that I waited so long to visit.   If you're ever in the area, as the Nike add says, "Just Do It!"

21 comments:

  1. We have been there several times, including when the mountain is out and the alpine meadow is in full color. Spectacular!

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    1. Such a special place! I'll definitely go back.

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  2. Fun visit, with a surprise. Oh the view they must have of Mt Rainier...I wonder if, after awhile, you start to take it for granted? I know that during my 10 years in Seattle I never did. Every time I turned a corner and saw it (or the Space Needle) it took my breath away a bit.

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    1. I see the mountain several times a day (weather permitting) and it's always amazing!

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  3. I've been there when the mountain was out, and it is a spectacular view. Too bad the sky was so cloudy for you. But of course, there's still plenty of nature's beauty to enjoy without it. This is one of those gardens where there are little treasures every few steps.

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    1. You are so right about the little treasures every few steps. This would be a great stop on the Tacoma/South Sound GB fling!

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  4. This is my dream garden so it was wonderful to go on a tour with you. I am trying to simplify and edit but it is hard to do with so many great plants out there and new ones coming all the time.

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    1. The restraint of this garden is admirable but I'll never achieve it. Always a delight to have you as a companion on these tours!

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  5. How beautiful. I would love to walk all those interesting paths...Your great photos carry me to places I will likely never get to visit in person, and I appreciate it!

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    1. The magic of garden blogging - I'll most likely never visit your part of the country either but get to experience it through your lens. In some ways, we are fortunate to live in this time.

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  6. Excellent tour of a garden where restraint is part of the beauty. So much to enjoy in a garden where the owners made so many excellent choices and their appreciation of the site shows at every turn.

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  7. Nice tour of what looks to be a fantastic place! The PNW as I always envision it in my mind. Most surprising thing is that a log can last 100 years!

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    1. One would have thought that the log would have rotted much faster. I've left wood on the ground in garden beds before and the critters get busy fairly quickly eating it up. Maybe the resinous pitch in evergreens retards the process?

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  8. This is a lovely photo and link rich post. The Chases were admirable as individuals and as a couple - I wish my husband and I were half that productive even at our current ages. As to Mrs. Chase's comment on simplicity, I think I need to chisel that admonition across my wallet.

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    1. Hope you enjoyed wading through the post. I also wish I were more productive but alas, I'm a sloth. Simplicity is a nice thing but we both get such joy from our gardens full of groovy plants.

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  9. Glad you enjoyed visiting Chase Gardens! You captured so many beautiful scenes. Chase does peaceful simplicity very well, though some lament the overabundance of heathers and junipers. It's so hard to balance simplicity and plant addiction. I'm trying very hard to do so in the area I've been working on this spring. Glad you and Will met, too. Poor Will, maybe I should have warned him a bit more about my blooging buddy. ;)

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  10. What a lovely garden, I like the way they have gone with nature and not tried to compete with it.

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  11. It's a pleasure to see a garden with such a distinct personality within the PNW style. Pearls, of course...you never know WHO might drop by.

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  12. I would feel myself here at home. Amazing place! Thank you Peter!

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  13. I love the atmosphere of this space; it seems totally appropriate to the surrounding landscape.

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