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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
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.


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 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.


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



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 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.



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


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


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.


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


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

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


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


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


Thankfully, these can be grown in my Arizona garden.


The Herb Garden was next.


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


There was even a variegated sage.


I really liked these rustic plant signs.



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

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.


Columbine

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



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

However, my favorite part was the ‘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.


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.



Some of the heathers were beginning to flower.


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.


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

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.


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…

Earlier this week, I shared with you the first garden on the Arcadia Edible Tour.  It was just wonderful to see the Sweet Life Garden in person.


However, we had to tear ourselves away from the first garden because there were more to see…



We stopped by Larry’s “Living the Dream Micro Farm”.  


Like many of the gardens we visited, Larry had chickens.

But, what really caught my attention was his row of trash can compost bins.


Each trash can was filled with compost in a different stage.  The trash cans are re-purposed by the City of Phoenix and are available to their residents for $5 a bin.  
Other cities offer free or inexpensive trash cans or compost bins.  Check your local city’s website under waste management to see what they offer.

Larry loved talking about his composting.  He primarily uses chicken manure, coffee ground and leaves.  It takes approximately 2 1/2 months from start to finish according to Larry.


Larry had huge tomato plants growing, heavily laden with fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit).


After leaving Larry’s garden, my mother asked to stop by Baker’s Nursery, which is her favorite place to buy vegetables.  Baker’s is the favorite nursery of locals and is located on 40th Street, South of Indian School Rd.


The problem with me going to a nursery as nice as Baker’s, is that I become like a child in a candy store.


I always come home with plants and seeds.  In this case, I bought more bush beans for my garden along with some perennial flowers and Angelita Daisy.

Back on tour, we saw some great examples of vegetables being grown.


Eggplant.


Aren’t these cucumber vines impressive?  The trellis is made up of rebar and wire mesh.

I think cucumber flowers are so pretty, don’t you?


I do love the bright colors of blanket flower, which attract pollinators to the vegetable garden.


I think vegetables are beautiful.


This may look like a green tomato – but it isn’t.  It’s a tomatillo.


Zucchini is so impressive in the vegetable garden. They grow so quickly and get so big.  I have them growing my garden too.  Now, I just have to get a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake so my kids will eat it 😉



I haven’t grown strawberries in my garden, although they are my favorite fruit.
I spent time in Germany as a child with my grandparents who had a huge strawberry garden and one of my favorite memories is chasing the rabbits away.

I may have to try growing some next year.

In addition to fruit and vegetables, we did see a beautiful lily pond…


And something quite unexpected…


That’s the thing with garden tours, you never know what you will see…


As you can tell, we were enjoying ourselves very much.


There was so much to see, that I still have one more post showing you some of our favorite parts of a few more gardens.


So come on back….you hear?