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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Old Goat Farm

When one reaches a certain age, comments like, "You should go to  Old Goat Farm" or "Have you been to  Old Goat Farm?  I think you'd like it there" give one pause.  While I may be an old goat, I'd like to think that I have a few years left before being put out to pasture.  Much to my relief, it turns out that this Old Goat Farm everyone was recommending is a wonderful nursery and fabulous garden which is only a 40 minute drive from my house, not an assisted living facility.

 In 2004, while on a plant shopping expedition, Greg Graves and Gary Waller found this wonderful place "quite by accident," bought it and moved from their award-winning Capitol Hill ( urban Seattle) garden to this 100 year old farmhouse on 2.6 acres. 

Here is a little information about Greg and Gary from their website:

Greg Graves

For 24 years, Greg worked for Burlington Northern Railroad. In the mid-90s, he had a major career change. He went back to school and earned a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design.

Greg retired from his 13 year tenure as  head gardener at The E.C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, WA  in  2011. Greg has also been an enthusiastic member of the Northwest Horticultural Society of which he is past president of the board and chairman of the education committee. He is on the perennial committee of Great Plant Picks and  president of The Pacific Horticulture Society. His current passion is building the new garden at Old Goat Farm.

Gary Waller

For the last 35 years, Gary has worked primarily as a floral designer for which he is AIFD certified. Gary won the first Well's Medina container competition. He enjoys floral competition and has won numerous awards. For his eight entries into the floral competition at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Gary placed in the top 3 seven times. In 2003 while working for Molbaks in Woodinville, WA, Gary transitioned from floral design to garden-bed design. Gary won a Gold Medal and Best in Show for his collection of containers at the 2006 and 2007 at the Point Defiance Flower and Garden Show. And in 2008 he won the People's Choice Award for his containers at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Gary now works full time at Old Goat Farm.

Greg and Gary

Together they built an award-winning garden on Capitol Hill in Seattle. In 2004, they won Garden Design Magazine's Golden Trowel Award. Now they are working on the garden and nursery at Old Goat Farm. Come watch it grow!

The first thing I noticed after parking was a sign on the gate asking that it be shut behind you as there are animals at play.  I already liked the place.  In addition to the couple of friendly dogs that may greet you, there are over 100 birds on the farm.

The garden is both rustic

and sophisticated. 

Wide swaths of lawn wind around raised beds.

The native soil in this area is glacial till - rocks with a little sand.  Greg says that things grow just fine in this extraordinarily fast draining ground but that digging a hole to plant something is the challenge. Having lived in that area for a brief time, I can tell you that a  shovel alone is usually not enough  to dig a hole for a gallon-sized plant.  (I'm feeling really lucky to have nearly rock-free soil in my current garden!)
 Loads of soil were trucked in to make the raised beds.

 I love shade gardens and this one, beneath a canopy of Douglas Firs is filled with great plants!

 Back on the sunny side.

There are many places to relax on the farm but looking at the property, animals, and business, I don't think that Greg and Gary have much time to utilize them. 

I love this potting bench
 Pebble covered sink.

Stepping stones, used in the garden are also available in the sales area.

 The inside shop has something for just about everyone!

Besides me, this was the only other old goat around.  

Such a relaxing place.  The only drama queen was this one.

Having read about Greg and Gary, I was expecting an extraordinary nursery;  I wasn't disappointed!

Inspired idea for corralling these top-heavy beauties.
 Asplenium scolopendrium crested form.

I thought that in mid July, there wouldn't be a very large selection in the plant sales area.  Boy, was I wrong!
 Shade heaven!

 Agave Americana
 Agave angustifolia came home with me. (grr Loree)

 My only regret is that I waited so long to visit this treasure!

Variegated daylily...YUM!
 Begonia luxurians in bloom

It was love at first sight of Sciadopitys verticillata 'Ossorio's Gold' but I already have a sizable specimen of the green on on the left... Gotta leave something for my next visit, right?

In looking at my pictures, I realized that there are a lot of  plants & parts of the garden that I missed but you won't want to!  The nursery is open the second weekend of each month and by appointment.   As if this alone isn't worth a trip, the Chase Garden, run by the garden conservancy is only six miles away!   So GO to Old Goat Farm!  No one will show you your nice new room and extol the virtues of craft classes and seated aerobics.  Really.  


  1. Simply stunning!!!! but more than anything, I found myself going back to the picture with the beautiful cordyline!!!! talk about plant lust! I'm drooling over that thing. They must be in a nice microclimate to have a cordyline of that size. a few years ago pretty much all cordylines croaked around here... including favourable spots in Vancouver. There are still a few big ones but seeing one like that is a rare treat!

    1. Because of higher elevation and greater distance from the water, their garden is in zone 7 maybe 7b. The cordyline may have been in a pot, don't remember.

  2. Yay for new agaves! I wish they had a couple of pictures of their garden on Capitol Hill, simply because living there for so I long I no doubt saw it and drooled over it, I would love to know which one it was.

    1. I bet they do have some pictures somewhere. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the former and current garden.

  3. The familiar Arisaema foliage caught my attention, but when S.v 'Ossorio's Gold' came into view..... smashing! Do you know if it is of normal size, or, luck of luck, it might possibly be a dwarf specimen that would fit into a postage sized plot?

    1. The tag said 6 feet tall by 2.5 feet wide in ten years, hardy to zone 4. Shall I get one for you as well?

  4. I wish we had a place that nice in my neck of the woods. Your pictures are great!

    1. We're very lucky to have so many fine nurseries in our neck of the woods.

  5. Such fun and interesting places we are visiting with you. You are lucky to have so many good nurseries in your area. Now I'm trying to imagine just where you'll take us next.

    1. Glad you're enjoying it. I'm finding that since I started taking pictures for the blog, it's almost like having a whole group of plant enthusiasts with me at these places. Thanks for coming along!

  6. I visited here a couple of months ago, on the Open Days tour, and was just thrilled with it! Went back the very next week on their monthly sales day, and bought one of those Agave americanas. I don't remember seeing the A. angustifolia then. In fact, there's lots of stuff here in your post that I don't remember seeing. Dang, I guess I just gotta go back.

    1. Isn't it great. I'll probably miss the next open because I'm going to the Frolic that Saturday and most likely won't be able to spend any more money on plants for a while! It's amazing, I go outside and think that I've got too many plants and yet somehow more always follow me home. Maybe I have a problem...


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