Sunday, May 25, 2014

Return to Western Hills


I couldn't tell you when the last time was that I walked through this gate , into what was our Northern California version of Heronswood--the bohemian iteration without the mail order, but with a palette of plants otherwise unknown to commerce. Like Heronswood it had fallen into neglect and disarray much to the dismay of west coast gardeners. You can read about the history , decline, fall and rescue of Western Hills Nursery here .

 Now reborn as Western Hills Garden, the restoration efforts have been fruitful . I visited on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, which was unfortunately too sunny for decent photos ...an excuse to return.!

 

 Look! It's the same sign, with a few modifications. Unlike the 'old days' there is an entry fee of 10.00, which I was happy to pay if it helps ensure the survival of this garden. Back in the early  80's when I first visited , the plants in the display gardens seemed incredibly exotic. There was not a Restio or a Cotinus to be found in any garden center I knew of. In fact I would venture to say I had no clue what 90% of the plants in this garden were . I know I bought plants here , but don't recall what they were for the most part --except for  Phlox divaricata -unknown in local garden centers at the time.

  The plants here were selected for for our Mediterranean winter-wet, summer-dry climate. Back in the 70's gardeners here were still trying to duplicate the classic herbaceous border  or worse Victorian bedding-out , and the likes of Salvias, grasses, Kniphofias , and Phormiums were rarely seen.





  The ponds were beautifully restored, the bridges repaired .









 The layering of the now mature trees was splendid to behold. Did Lester and Marshal plan this ? Was it a happy accident?  Here the trees provide a backdrop to a meadow planting.






 A small pond near the rock garden.






Gigantic person-height Callas.









 I felt good about the progress of the garden , and the owners commitment to it's survival. It is not however a non-profit (nor was it in the glory days) and will be dependent on the support of the gardening community and the willingness of the current owners to stay the course with what is likely to be a low or no profit operation. Thank goodness for volunteers.

 For more information , you can visit Western Hills' website here . 

 


15 comments:

  1. This looks like a fabulous garden, I can see why you're so enthusiastic about its restoration. That shot of the pond with the enormous feathery Restio behind it is wonderful.

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    1. How I love Restios ! I lost both of mine last winter -they were in containers and might have been saved if I'd moved the pots a little closer to the house and covered them with frost protection fabric.

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  2. How exciting! I'll definitely have to put it on my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing your pictures, Kathy!

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    1. Happy to oblige Kris. I'm going to go back when June gloom sets in.

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  3. It looks like a fantastic, with its maturity, naturalistic lush planting. That Calla Lily is impressive!

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    1. yes, and it got a little too naturalistic for a time . The new owner has done well to edit out the encroaching weedy stuff and still retain that natural look.

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  4. How fantastic. What a great garden. Wish I lived closer so I could do some of that garden touring with you. Those callas are unbelievable! Gorgeous!

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    1. What we need is a high speed bullet train that goes coast to coast in an hour :-) I think however that there might be some garden touring for us in the not to distant future !

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  5. Thank you so much for the mini tour, this is a place I've been itching to see. Your photos make me even more determined to do so.

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    1. You need to do the Western Hills-Digging Dig-Mendo Coast Botanical- Melissa Garden loop ! Bring Dramamine.

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  6. That restio, fanning out like a peacock, wowzers. What a cool place. I'm so glad this garden is being loved by humans once again.

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    1. Oh the Restios ! How I love them !

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  7. That's so true, that many of the plants I first met at WH are now commonplace, more credit to their discerning eye! First saw Parahebe perfoliata here in the 80s among so many others. I was really impressed with the layering and tree canopy too. So glad you visited!

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    1. I wonder if that's where I got my Parahebe ? I've had it for years and years , and I know I had never seen it before when I bought it. June gloom has arrived here, so in between June and July travels I hope to venture back over .

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  8. Wonderful to see it cared for again. Thanks for the tour.

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