Gardening where the sidewalk ends

A Visit to Jordan’s Garden (Part I) May 3, 2010

One of the best things about our little garden bloggers’ group, SAGBUTT, is when new people stumble upon our meeting notices and decide to come and join us. Such was the case back in late March when a few of us ventured out in the rain to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle for some time to chat and amble around between showers.

Jordan Jackson, owner of the Metropolitan Gardens garden design business, has been blogging about his garden and design services for a few years at Gardening in Cascadia and recently discovered some new ways of connecting with fellow gardeners and plant enthusiasts, such as Blotanical and SAGBUTT. His vast knowledge of botanical names alone is a great reason to check out his site, but his photos and showcasing of the variety of native and exotic ornamentals, especially perennials, are also well worth the clicks.

At our BBG visit, Jordan mentioned that he would be having an open garden in the near future, and invited us to come on out. His home garden, on a hillside overlooking Lake Washington in Seatle’s historic Mt. Baker neighborhood, issued a siren call that I could not resist.

Usually, I do not attempt to drag my 6 yr. old along on garden visits, especially those where I’d like to ask questions and not have to be on the alert for the potential trampling of precious plants. But since the other blogger in the family was out of town, it was bring her along or not go at all, so I chose to go for it.

As we pulled up to the curb, a small sign on the steep slope’s retaining wall announced the open garden hours, but first I had to check out the sidewalk garden. This parking strip is much narrower than mine, but is planted with one of the more unusual selections of tough but attractive plants I’ve seen in a long while.

Jordan's parking strip garden

Yes, that’s Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ out there for all to enjoy – here’s a close-up of the delicate flowers:

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle'

Another flowering currant, Ribes X gordonianum, keeps coming up lately – I think it’s going on my wish list as of right now:

Ribes x gordonianum

Not every day do you just see one of these on the street (Cupressus arizonica ‘Blue Ice’):

Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Ice'  in parking strip

Did you know that many species of Bottlebrush (Callestemon) are cold hardy in the Pacific Northwest? I didn’t! Thanks to Jordan, I now do. Here is a seedhead from last year’s blooming of Callistemon rigidus:

Callistemon rigidus  seedhead

Across from the parking strip is a semi-casual, partly shaded narrow strip of charming low-growers. Lamium and Primula kisoana:

Lamium and primula kisoana combo

My new favorite spring ephemeral, Erythronium oreganum, whose name I did not know until Jordan provided it and helped me stick it in my brain by repeating it patiently until I got it:

Erythronium oregonum

There was probably a lot more down there of note, but I knew the clock was ticking on my daughter’s willingness to participate so we needed to head up the stairs. Maybe I can convince Jordan to do a post on his street garden one of these days, hint hint.

Our virtual tour of the upper garden will have to wait for another day, but I will tell you that the visit was enjoyable, revelatory, educational, and one that I hope to repeat in following seasons to see what else is growing there. Thank you to Jordan for the invitation, kind hosting, and plant name help!


12 Responses to “A Visit to Jordan’s Garden (Part I)”

  1. Laura Says:

    It’s always nice to take a walk in someone else’s garden. It looks like you found one worth of a slow stroll!

  2. Jordan Says:

    Thanks for the excellent post about my parking strip. I haven’t written about it because it is so much of a work in progress. I hope to get rid of the last patch of grass this year. My garden is on tour again on June 26. SAGBUTT could meet on my deck during the tour: 10-4. I’ll be distracted, but available to speak Latin periodically.

  3. Great shot of the Callistemon!

  4. Lovely to see a work in progress – how often are beds or gardens actually “done”, anyway? Interesting to see the ribes species as small trees and growing (or pruned?) so openly. I like that, after seeing our native ribes sanguinium as such a big, beautiful but rambunctious shrub. And happy to hear another endorsement of the cold-hardy callistemon, having just planted viridiflorus!

    Look forward to Part II!

  5. Catherine Says:

    I’m so glad you were able to go and visit. Just from the sidewalk plantings you can tell it’s nice there. Looking forward to part 2.

  6. I loved walking around neighborhoods on our one recent trip to Seattle. So many gardeners are bringing their parking strips to life, seems like one can park the car and take a stroll just about anywhere. We’re behind, but catching up.

  7. Racquel Says:

    I really admire all the pretty streetside or curb plantings in your area. 🙂

  8. Yes, I have been spotty in my blog visiting, too. Still, school is out and the garden is in, so maybe I can spend some time getting a little caught up with my friends.

    Did I miss something? I noticed in one of your posts that you’ve been going each week to the Center for Urban Horticulture. Have you started working or volunteering there?

  9. Jen Says:

    Wow – all that and we’re still on the parking strip? Can’t wait to see what else he’s got! We had a bottlebrush tree in our yard in Florida when I was a kid. I didn’t know there were cold hardy varieites either!

  10. Megan Says:

    I didn’t realize there were hardy bottlebrushes. I got one as a present for my mom a couple years ago – not hardy. I’ll have to try again with a more suitable selection.

  11. Aerie-el Says:

    Lovely! And so nice of Jordan to offer to have SAGBUTTees visit in June. If I’m in town, I think that is one NPA tour I’ll attend.

  12. Cami Peloza Says:

    I first saw the arizona cypress ‘blue ice’ planted in the S Seattle community college gardens and thought it was so pretty. I especially love the cones. We planted one in our back yard last spring and so far it’s doing great.

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