Northwest garden … style?

Do we have a garden style in the Northwest? Do we need one?  Last week, taking the folks from Ladew Topiary Gardens around the Seattle area, we heard constrasting comments on style.  At Kubota Gardens, we heard that until Fujitaro Kubota’s time (mid -20th century), we had looked to the West for our style, and created English gardens.  After that, the East became our influence in choosing plants, forms and designs.  At Daniel Sparler’s, we saw eclectic combinations, but Tina Dixon eschewed the “jelly-bean-jar look” of one of these and one of those.  Shelagh Tucker’s back garden was inspired by the English border look; Judy Massong’s garden relied on traditionally formal lines — but with a new twist, because none of the lines matched up.

            When we visited Charleston in March, we saw formal gardens historically accurate for the late 18th century.  It was the closest we got to England this year.  At the Alamo, horticulturist Mark Nauschultz, who took me on a tour (while my husband Leighton trailed along with his cousin, Bruce Winders, curator of the Alamo — that’s them standing under a wild olive, Cordia boisseri) drew from a plant palette that includes parts of Central America.  The landscape looks fitting for the site, and in early April the walls of the Alamo are awash in bloom.

            So, our garden style comes from our history, as well as what we can grow, what we want to grow, what we will take a chance on growing.

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