Two Gardens…

Beautiful gardens abound in Salem, but here’s a peek at two I’ve visited recently.  The first is the garden of my “garden mentor” Irene.  Years ago the late Oregonian garden columnist Dulcy Mahar wrote that if you were having trouble with your garden, the BEST thing to do was to find a garden you admired, and ask that gardener for advice.  I asked Irene, who I hardly knew, and she responded with a reading list and a long list of other gardens to visit.  I think my own garden is pretty now, thanks to Irene’s advice, plant suggestions and practical hints (“You have to WATER the plants Bonnie…”).  And we discovered we shared other interests…(if you visit her garden Sunday, ask her about transferware).   I visited her this week and even tho it was a rainy morning…the garden was gorgeous.

Irene’s garden surrounds an historic Salem Italianate house on a conventional city lot.  On the street side is an iron fence which provides a grid through which the euphorbia and roses escape, calling the eye of the passer-by.  The contrasting elements in Irene’s garden, the push/pull of it, are what make it so beautiful to me.

Irene agreed to have her garden on the Gaiety Hill garden tour in aid of the GEM Children’s Foundation and it will be open Sunday, June 24th from 2-4, as will the gardens of 5 other neighbors in the Gaiety Hill Neighborhood.  Tickets are available the day of the tour at 445 Leslie Street SE…don’t miss this “Progressive Tea” in one of Salem’s historic districts.

When I got there the other day Jorge was trimming the boxwoods (by hand of course)

so I went up the driveway…

and into the back garden…here’s a view toward Jon’s studio BEFORE Jorge got there with his trimmers…

Fanny likes the water feature…

I snuck back the next day to get a view of the “after”….

Don’t miss this garden tour/tea!!

Richard and Juli have a gorgeous garden of a very different sort.  They have a couple of acres surrounding their house…also an historic house…

This is a house I remember very well, as Roy and Hazel Patton moved it there from Mission Street in the 1986 (saving it from demolition…it is the house on the far left behind the tall hedges in this 1986 photo of mine…Mission Street just before the overpass was built…)

and it sat for quite a while in an empty field in Laurel Springs.  And so it was, kind of, marooned…when Richard and Juli began the transformation of this double lot into an oasis, a refuge, and an amazing collection of plant material.  The morning of our visit was sunny and my photos could not possibly do it justice.  It’s a garden of drifts…poppies and heather…

Lavender and grasses and…

There is so much plant material here, trees, shrubs, perennials, TAGS are needed:

tags which include the date of planting…

one red poppy…

an “allee”

a bench (and I LOVED sitting here…)

and I fell in love with this “little” tree…this is a redwood…OMG it will be big one day…

this is a garden of solace, of creation, of lively discourse.  Thank you Richard and Juli for letting me take a peek…more Salem gardens to come…


  1. My garden and I feel like movie stars. The photos are beautiful and your writing and sense of both gardens is really great.

  2. Gosh I forgot a credit line…the art work…the two black X’s in the shot of Irene’s back garden looking toward the house…are by the very talented and completely wonderful Cary Doucette!!

  3. Bonnie, Thank you for the plug for the GEM benefit in Gaiety Hill. Your pictures of Irene’s garden are wonderful. I just love how you and Irene met – great story of true friendship.

    And isn’t Hazel an amazing person who just quietly saves Salem?


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