Pink Dogwood

Have you ever visited a garden that was not what you expected?

I recently had the opportunity to visit a small 2-acre garden run by master gardeners Mount Vernon, WA in conjunction with Washington State University. 

Pink Dogwood

Photo: Pink Dogwood

Now for those of you who kindly read through my myraid of garden travels on my Northwest road trip – this garden was somewhat different and completely unexpected.

I’ve had the opportunity through my travels to visit a number of gardens run by master gardeners and I have found them to be places for learning more about plants and gardening practices.

Discovery Garden

While I expected much of the same with this garden, I found so much more.  Within its boundaries, there were so many separate gardens including a 4 seasons, cottage, Japanese, native, shade and sun garden just to name a few.  However, in addition to the more traditional gardens, were also an imaginative children’s garden and an enabling garden for those with disabilities.  

I’ve been waiting to share the wonders of this garden with you.  I hope you enjoy the tour!

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden is located in the small town of Mount Vernon, otherwise known as the bulb-growing capital of the U.S.  It is 60 miles north of Seattle.  

Espaliered apple trees grew on the fence along the front entry.

The Discovery Garden

Small apples were ripening, which made me remember that Washington is the state where the most apples are grown.

The Discovery Garden
Entrance Garden

As we entered the gardens, we noticed helpful signs that described the theme of each sub-garden along with a list of the plants growing in it.  

The Discovery Garden
The Discovery Garden

The paths curved, creating islands where each individual garden stood.  This photo, above, shows how curving paths create a sense of mystery, leading one on to discover what is around the bend.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

The Four Seasons garden showed examples of plants in bloom alongside others that will bloom later in the season.

Four Season Garden
Four Season Garden

Of course, anywhere I find peonies growing, I find it hard to tear myself away from this lovely flowering plant that can never grow in my warm desert garden.

Japanese gardens

Japanese gardens are quite popular in the Northwest and this garden had one of its own.

The Discovery Garden

My mother and I journeyed through the garden on a cloudy Saturday morning.  As we walked through the gardens, we met with one of the 27 master gardeners who take care of this garden.    

She was nice enough to take us on a tour of the gardens and told us that the entire garden was designed by master gardeners.  I must admit that the landscape designer in me was extremely impressed at how well it was designed.  

Gardeners know that most landscapes hold secrets that aren’t always evident to the casual observer and this one was no different.

tiny hummingbird's nest.

She guided us toward a tree that held a tiny hummingbird’s nest.

Anna's hummingbirds nest

They have Anna’s hummingbirds living in the gardens year round.

hummingbird

However, I was very happy to be able to see a Rufous hummingbird for the very first time, drinking nectar from nearby flowers.

The Discovery Garden

Continuing on our adventure through the garden, I spotted swaths of purple in the distance.

The Discovery Garden

Have I ever told you that I like irises almost as much as peonies?

The Discovery Garden

Thankfully, these can be grown in my Arizona garden.

The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden was next.

The Discovery Garden

The sage was in full bloom and it was hard to imagine that people grow them for their foliage and not their lovely flowers.  

variegated sage

There was even a variegated sage.

rustic plant signs

I really liked these rustic plant signs.

The Discovery Garden
Herb Garden

Within the Herb Garden, was a display with a list of herbs and how they are used as dyes.  

Who knew that basil is used as a black dye?  

Flowering Garlic Chives

Photo: Flowering Garlic Chives

Our time in this garden was limited since we had a plane to catch in Seattle in the early afternoon.  To be honest, we hadn’t expected to find so much to explore in this university garden and so we had rush to see as much as we could.

The Discovery Garden
Columbine

Photo: Columbine

The Discovery Garden

Of course, like most educational gardens, this one had a great compost working display.

Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.
Divided bins were filled with 'greens', 'browns' and 'twigs'.

Divided bins were filled with ‘greens’, ‘browns’ and ‘twigs’.  

However, my favorite part was the ‘Yuck Bin’…

Yuck Bin
Yuck Bin

One of the many reasons that I like to visit gardens whenever I travel is that I get to see plants that don’t grow where I live.

Heather Garden

This is the Heather Garden, filled with a variety of heathers.  

I admit that I haven’t seen much heather growing except for trips to Great Britain.  

Heather Garden
Heather Garden

Some of the heathers were beginning to flower.

The Discovery Garden

While there is much more to see, I want to share with you one last garden area in this post that really caught my eye.

naturescaping

Have you ever heard of ‘naturescaping’?  I haven’t, but it immediately sounded like my style of sustainable, low-maintenance garden.  

naturescaping

This area of the garden was filled with native plants and associated cultivars that receive minimal maintenance.  The plants were chosen with the goal of attracting wildlife with many plants providing shelter and food.

The Discovery Garden

I hope you have enjoyed the first part of the tour of this small garden.  

But, I’m not finished yet.  I’ve saved the best for last.  Come back next time to see the Children’s, Enabling, Native and Vegetable Gardens.  

You may even spot the elusive Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor’s garden…

A Hidden Garden in the Smallest Place

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
1 reply
  1. RobinL
    RobinL says:

    Wow, that does sound like an interesting garden! So many different things happening. Those master gardeners are a brilliant bunch. Did they happen to say when they do with the YUCK bin, or does it just sit there forever? The naturescaping garden is particularly interesting to me. Can't wait to see the rest!

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