2012 Garden Tour features four of San Juan's best

An Enkianthus in bloom in a garden on Afterglow Drive - Contributed photo
An Enkianthus in bloom in a garden on Afterglow Drive
— image credit: Contributed photo

Four of the island’s finest gardens will be showcased in San Juan Horticultural Society's 2012 Garden Tour.

The tour is Monday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets, $15, are available at Browne's Garden Center, Robin's Nest and Griffin Bay Bookstore

Garden One

Four years ago, this town garden was a lawn.Yards of soil and loving planning turned it into a treasure trove of familiar plants like Choisia (Mexican orange) and some very interesting and unusual plants in perennial borders embracing three sides of the house. White flowered shrubs like Viburnum ‘Doublefile’, Exocorda, Pearl Bush, and Pieris give height and are interspersed with robust Hosta sieboltiana. Berberis ‘Pygmy Crimson’ (and one tall one) line the path to the front door. Look left as you pass through the archway decked with Wisteria to see a new edition, Gingko biloba. Bears’ britches, oakleaf Hydrangea and Foxgloves line the path on the left, but on the right, trained up against the house are a pair of hops: one for bittering, one for aroma, both with glamorous leaves. Do not miss the plants on the shed roof!Decorative grasses punctuate the borders. Echinochloa, Golden Forest Grass, is particularly striking in fall. Lilies are also scattered throughout the garden. Bordering the driveway is a specimen of Acer griseum (paper bark elm) and, softening the side of the house, a row of maples.  Beneath these are Daphne, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ and germander, and a pond ringed with Louisiana Iris. Opposite, anchored by a King apple tree at least 80 years old is an old orchard with pear, cherry, plum and hazelnuts and a new development of fruit trees on mini dwarfing rootstock. All this abundance in a town lot!

Vincellette Home: Harbor View Place: Garden Two

This is a plantsman’s paradise of a garden with remnants of an older garden blended with new plantings. Roses in tubs line the path as you enter the garden gate. A circular path round the gazebo is lined with flower beds of electric blue Lithodora, Lily of the Valley Hydrangea and that versatile sturdy garden shrub Mexican orange, Choisia. Brass buttons and blue star ground covers abound and an ancient cherry tree is still holding its own in the corner. Clematis has been trained up the gazebo and on the side fence is a grape vine. The owners rarely see grapes however as the deer can reach through the fence and glean the fruit!  Familiar plants like Lilac, Wistera (this time a standard though) Russell Lupines and azaleas, culinary mint and catmint join an old tree peony and tucked in the corner is a magnificent Gunnera with its own water feature. Round the side of the house Cryptomaria and weeping Pussywillow share space with a large native Hawthorn Crataegus douglasii. Climb a few steps to the deck and look down on the most decorative salal on the island and out across a curved terrace with Kniphofia (Redhot pokers), lavender and catmint intermingled with Festuca ‘Elijah blue’and other ornamental grasses. Look up and out over a lovely view of the town and harbor, and another terrace of Iris that should be in great shape on the day. Descend the deck and follow the path past California Bay (Umbellularia californica) whose pungent leaves are used judiciously in cooking, past magnificent rhododendrons flourishing on the cooler side of the garden and past an Asian inspired garden with golden bamboo, black Mondo grass and Fatsia and Acuba for contrast. In the far corner a huge black locust tree is tolerated despite its messy leaf drop. The huge leaves of Petasites or Butterbur are striking in the understory and Lily the Valley wanders across the bed, and into the path. Take a peek at the potting area before you return to the front garden.

King Home Songbird Lane Garden Three

After the drive along Lampard road, you will find this garden in a parklike setting with rolling lawns with Pines and Douglas Fir trees. A pond lined with silver birch adds to the tranquil landscape. At the house, two beautiful maples frame the door with a selection of decorative ferns, a camellia and hostas at their feet. On the right is a fenced garden with two dramatic pink dogwoods in full bloom and a peony about to burst into color.  Sedges including a striped Carex border the bed and a variegated Iris pallida is a striking feature in a mixed perennial garden of lilies, poppies, hydrangeas and Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla). Against the house, is a large specimen of Stewartia with fat buds about to break and the strange old fruits of last year’s flowers hanging below them. Three crab apples line the fence and very decorative Rhododendrons are tucked in the shade.Outside the fence Spanish Lavender (Lavendula stokeas) alternates with heathers and grasses to form a neat border and around the corner Salal is tamed into a crisp border. At the corner Mexican orange, Choisia, is in full bloom. The front of the house with a magnificent view across to the Olympics has a dry garden featuring Blue oats and other grasses, lavenders and germander. Creeping thyme is the ground cover. Pink and white Armeria are used to great effect in the side garden that is dominated by Styrax and fragrant Osmanthus and catmint and Dianthus. Across the lawn the pool area is a riot of white Viburnum, sharp magenta Geranium, Blue oat grass and lavender. In the shady spot near the gate, hostas of various kinds flourish under a large lilac and sea thrift (Armeria) reflects the pink tones above. This slightly formal arrangement of a few well chosen plants repeated around the border is very attractive.

Afterglow Home Garden Four

This is a garden for all seasons. Now, it is the turn of Viburnum ‘Doublefile’ to shine along the driveway and a beautiful Asian Enkianthus to glow in a secluded corner. In fall, Acer griseum and Stewartia will glow. Then in winter two Viburnum x bodnantense bushes on either side of the gate will be in full blush of pink blooms. Look right as you enter the garden to see an old stand of Cedars that form a backdrop and screen from the road. The tour will circle the house passing Viburnum ‘Doublefile’ and Stewartia which may be in flower (in bud at the time of writing) in a perennial border fringed by a lush groundcover of Leptinella (Brass Buttons).  The border continues with Salal, fragrant Osmanthus burkwoodii and vine maples with a backdrop of newly planted Hemlock privacy screen. Past the impressive compost bin is a specially fenced dog run landscaped with as much care as the rest of the garden. Raised beds defined by huge logs house interesting plants like Ruscus, Vine maples and Huckleberries but it is Enkianthus that is the star here. Related to Madrone, this tree has delicate red-orange flowers hanging from the tiered branches. Nearby is another relative, Arbutus marina, a hybrid of uncertain origin commonly called Marina Strawberry tree. Outside the dog facing the sea are native Amelanchier and Mahonia nervosa and M. repens —you will find a third species,Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape) as you circle round the house past sword ferns and Osmanthus shrubs. The back drop is an ancient coastal Crabapple (Malus fusca). Heptocodium, a member of the honeysuckle family is a small tree for all seasons. Its bark is interesting, and after flowering in September, it has persistent red bracts, and fantastic fall color!  Lining the driveway are evergreen Myrica, (wax myrtles) Japanese maples, a Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), Hellebores and Huckleberries, and a lovely stand of Solomon’s Seal with its pendulous white flowers lining the branches.  At the front door is a cluster of three Paperbark Maples (I) and a rock pool carved by Tom Small. As you leave the garden take note of the verges with rhododendrons on a mat of transplanted moss!



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