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 25, 2016

The Issaquah Garden of Art Converse

A warm Saturday in mid July was perfect for touring the garden of Art Converse, whose impressive resume includes a career in the Marines, 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!


  1. No doubt he knows what he's doing, but ponds up against the house always give me a bit of a "what if" moment. It just seems so risky!

  2. Art's garden is indeed very interesting. I can imagine have family camp there in the summers.

  3. I loved exploring Art's garden! It sounds like you had quite a long conversation with him. I asked about overwintering the Brugs, but then being an introvert, went on my merry way. Thanks for sharing your photos, they give a great perspective on the garden.

  4. Obviously the garden of a master builder! Must be nice to have those skills...

  5. Banana trees and brugmansias in open air, that is magic, Peter. I also liked a contained 'privet gym'. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Where's that guest cottage reservation sheet?!

  7. Some great wide views in this garden as well as lots of private nooks. Love all of the buildings, but that's rubbing it in to those of us who don't have a single outbuilding of any kind!

  8. That is certainly an interesting garden, his extended family must have a wonderful time there!

  9. Unbelievable! Makes even us hard-core gardeners look like slugs.

  10. What a positively intriguing place! I'd love to see the interiors of those guest cottages! Does he have help caring for the grounds or does he do it all himself?

  11. Bonnie DeCaro-MonahanAugust 21, 2020 at 3:15 PM

    Hello Art! Not sure if you check this these days, but it's the only way I could find you. I hear that you're giving garden tours and asking visitors to donate to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank. It's working! Thank you, from all of us at the food bank, for your creative way of providing support for those experiencing food insecurity.

    Bonnie DeCaro-Monahan
    Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank


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