The Miller Botanical Backyard and Nice Plant Picks


 The Miller Botanical Backyard is a public backyard in North Seattle filled with rarities and wonder. A five-acre web site, it’s moderately massive for what was as soon as the non-public residence of Pendleton and Elisabeth Miller. Inbuilt 1948, Mrs. Miller started gardening with a ardour. She not solely collected uncommon vegetation from across the globe, many from Eurasia, she had a keenness for the native flora of Washington state. Immediately the gardens are publicly owned, a present from Elisabeth to the residents of Seattle. As a result of the house is in a gated group, there are limits as to what number of guests it will probably accommodate, solely 500 per 12 months. Tickets go quick. I visited final 12 months for my first time (you’ll be able to go to these two posts right here and right here) with pricey mates and the expertise was enchanting. This week I had the pleasure of visiting as soon as extra as a member of the Nice Plant Picks choice committee; the Miller Botanical Backyard is its dwelling base.
Nice Plant Picks is an academic ingredient linked with the Miller Backyard, as Elisabeth was an enormous believer in schooling. In reality, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library on the College of Washington was a present of the Millers to the horticulture group. The GPP group meets a couple of occasions a 12 months; nevertheless, solely on-line the previous few years. This was the primary in-person assembly since 2019 and my first in-person since becoming a member of GPP final 12 months. The purpose of the group is to vet vegetation which might be confirmed to be dependable, straightforward, and hopefully available to Pacific Northwest gardeners from British Columbia to the southern finish of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It’s a non-profit aimed toward connecting gardeners with hardy and hopefully attention-grabbing plant materials for his or her gardens.

Our assembly was targeted and allowed little time for pictures save for the hour or so we had earlier than hand, arriving slightly early to have the ability to discover. Right here then is a snapshot of a fast however implausible take a look at a late winter backyard some 75 years outdated because it begins to thaw out from a protracted winter and step into spring.

I shall start on the home, the epicenter of the backyard. That is now administrative places of work however was as soon as Elisabeth and Pendleton’s dwelling, constructed with native supplies equivalent to cedar and a neighborhood sandstone.

That is trying barely to the left with a beautiful staircase that leads as much as a terrace space with an exquisite assortment of trough planters filled with alpine treasures. To the left, foreground is an space with a big planting of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (nonetheless dormant) which Elisabeth planted. It simply so occurs it was the very first time it was launched to the U.S., she was fairly a plant pioneer.

A fern desk, Richie Steffen the manager director is understood for these. He recurrently got here to Pleasure Creek Nursery to show workshops the right way to make them. You’ll be able to study extra by watching this video. 

From the highest of the staircase trying again down the sloped backyard that terminates on the shores of Puget Sound.

A really good-looking variegated cordyline. Whereas I do not develop these, I’ve heard our Portland winter climate has wreaked havoc on cordylines. Not so right here, they appear implausible.

Wanting onto the terrace and trough planters. The doorway and home windows to the left are the place my group for Nice Plant Picks, the perennial crew, had our assembly.

Cordyline indivisa additionally trying nice.

Simply off of the one little bit of garden in the entire backyard, Del and Mike, two full-time gardeners (and actually swell guys!) go to with the moderately massive Nice Plant Picks group and stroll across the gardens with us.

Garden and steps to the terrace from a wider angle.

Extra of the gardens near the home.

The world to the precise is the conservatory.

Wanting west in the direction of Puget Sound from the conservatory.

Terrace simply exterior of the conservatory. That is lushly planted with all kinds of broadleaf evergreens and shade evergreens equivalent to aspidistra, sarcococca and ferns.

I’m not versed on the genus rhododendron, however I feel that is R. sinogrande. Be at liberty to chime in if not.

Shifting round the home to the entrance door forward with appropriately mossy paths and stepping stones.

A pathway across the entrance of the home in fairly a little bit of shade with a moderately massive planting of ophiopogon of some type, I consider.

Lush foliage spilling out all over the place. Apparently Elisabeth was a fan of foliage above flowers, which works so nicely on this delicate (zone 8) maritime local weather.

Saxifraga primuloides is allowed to unfold in a number of locations within the backyard, a moderately charming plant particularly combined with mosses.

We have simply made a whole circle round the home, this path results in the terrace and the highest of the steps.

Shifting away from the home, this stairway takes you to the western areas of the backyard.

This construction, a working propagation space, is simply off of the stairway.

On the stairway trying down in the direction of the nursery and greenhouses. Even in winter there’s a lot attention-grabbing plant materials, Elisabeth was fairly eager to form bushes and shrubs into attention-grabbing varieties to point out off their distinctive character.

Woodland groundcovers

Foliage textures

Corylopsis starting to bloom with its inform story pale yellow flowers.

Sciadopitys verticillata, Japanese umbrella pine.

The stone overlook

Just under the overlook a staircase takes you to the decrease gardens in the direction of the west. On the way in which you go by this pretty arctostaphylos.

On the way in which down the staircase.

Within the shade rockery.

Lichens and mosses adorn a lot of this backyard.

I consider these are Morella californica (syn. Myrica californica), Pacific wax myrtle which were pruned up. That is very close to the sting of the backyard in the direction of the water.

Whereas the steps main as much as the lookout had been out of fee for repairs, the view throughout Puget Sound may nonetheless be seen. Even on a moderately cloudy day it’s nonetheless awe-inspiring.

Woodland ephemerals are actually all over the place.

Dicksonia antarctica, tree fern, in its protecting protecting for the colder months.

Unbelievable foliage. I consider this can be a rhododendron, not sure of the species.

Ypsilandra thibetica, an evergreen perennial from China.

Within the wild backyard trying in the direction of the rockeries.

Some hanging hellebores in a darkish shade.

Simply off of the parking space trying up in the direction of the home.

Weathered bench in the midst of the wild backyard

One of many whipcord hebes with an attention-grabbing silhouette.

These look to be tulip and different spring bulbs with a little bit of safety from looking deer and/or rabbits.

Headed again up the hill in the direction of the home, I circled and appeared west with a second of attention-grabbing gentle on what was a moderately gray day.

Gorgeous sarracenia planting on the fringe of the stone overlook by the parking space.

Wanting again east kind the parking space in the direction of the home up above.

Closing out this put up with a view from inside the place my group’s (the perennial committee) assembly was held. I hope the others on the bushes and shrubs committees had a equally stunning setting. Not a foul strategy to spend a gathering, I might say. We bought plenty of work achieved and headed dwelling after 3 pm. A protracted day from Portland to Seattle and again however completely price it.

Nice Plant Picks is a superb group of horticulture professionals with collectively an enormous vary of plant data. All of us volunteer our time (gladly!) to assist present sensible enter concerning vegetation we’re acquainted with to help within the choice of applicable plant materials for Pacific Northwest gardeners. It’s a helpful database of vegetation for anybody in search of info, in order Elisabeth Miller needed, the knowledge is obtainable to all. 

If you want an in-depth take a look at the Miller Botanical Backyard, Richie Steffen, the manager director, was a current visitor on Backyard Masterclass with Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsbury which was recorded and made obtainable to the general public. You will discover that video right here. It’s completely price watching, Richie supplies a wealthy background to the backyard and is a superb speaker.
I might additionally like to present a shout out to the Corvallis Night Backyard Membership for internet hosting me final week for my speak about climate-adapted vegetation. You’re an unimaginable group of not solely educated gardeners and plant consultants, you give a lot to your group as a complete. It was an inspiring journey (regardless of the chilly climate!) and I’m so completely satisfied to have met you all. A particular thanks to Ruby Moon, Christina, Beatrice and Janet. Thanks, Christina and Beatrice for opening your gardens to me and to Ruby for internet hosting me and getting in contact. You’re all great. 

How blessed I really feel to be surrounded by the perfect in horticulture proper in my very own yard.

That is a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As at all times thanks a lot for studying and commenting, we do love listening to from you!


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