Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Special Garden in Hood River

Sheila Ford Richmond is the kind of person that brings charm wherever she goes. I count myself lucky to not only know her, but to count her as a friend. She is a loyal reader of Chickadee Gardens and we have chatted in passing over the past few years about native plants, birds and art.  She has given me an open invitation to visit her garden out in the Columbia River Gorge, and so I finally had the opportunity to visit. A couple of weeks ago our mutual friend and artist Sharon Bronzan and I took a lovely drive out to Hood River in Oregon's scenic Columbia River Gorge to visit Sheila and her not-so-ordinary home and garden. Wow, was I in for a surprise. Allow me to take you along for a ride.


What I had pictured was a heavily shaded woodland garden. What we drove up to was a Mediterranean-style gem of a native garden with pollinators everywhere. Her house is special, too. It is energy efficient with solar panels, triple-pane windows, Lifebreath heat recovery for fresh air exchange and humidity mitigation, low-flow plumbing, Feng Shui principles throughout (you can tell when you're there), artists worked on custom murals and plaster work and..and..and..cork floors, hardwood floors, no wasted space. Native plantings, a bioswale which Shelia helped develop, and a veggie garden for fresh produce are all part of her paradise on the west end of Hood River. Oh, and did I mention she is an artist, too? Her own tile work and other art can be seen throughout her home. There is a wonderful article in The Oregonian about her home and garden. You can read about it here.


At the front door, a great pond with a fountain feature welcomes you. I believe I heard her mention frogs. I would not be surprised and, frankly, if I were a frog, this is where I would want to live.


A sculpture of Quan yin greets you at the front door.


Epipactis gigantea or chatterbox orchids out in front, in full bloom. Just lovely. This is a native orchid preferring wet locales. We caught them at their peak.


At the front walkway, a carpet of thyme and lavender greets you. Sheila's home is made of stucco and painted in bright shades of yellow, two shades of purple and a more neural taupe color to calm down the bright tones.


Fragrant dill scents the air near the front door.


From the street level, looking down into the veggie garden where Sheila and Sharon explore what was ripe on this sunny summer day. I believe they were picking sweet peas.



Some very jeweled-toned nasturtiums.



More of the veggie beds, with a view of the outer garden on the upper embankment on the right. This is where Sheila has a lot of her native plantings and has sourced many of them from one of my favorite nurseries, Humble Roots, not far from her home.




Sheila tells me that the sunflowers in her garden were all planted by birds. They did a lovely landscaping job, I'd say. Planted by birds and later enjoyed by birds. It's a lovely world.






Wide shot of the home from the street with yarrow or Achillea millefolium on the right.


Achillea millefolium detail. Although it does not show up in this photo, the pollinators went crazy for this plant. I mean there were all kinds of bees and tiny bee-like insects just buzzing all over, this is a winner if you want to provide sustenance for pollinators.


This is a Erigonum compositum or heart-leafed buckwheat.


Myrica californica or California wax myrtle.



Eriogonum niveum, or snow buckwheat, another tough, sun-loving native.


Amelanchier alnifolia or serviceberry. A very valuable food source for wildlife. These were highly esteemed by Native Americans as the berries would improve the flavor of other berries when mixed together. A great deciduous tree/shrub for full sun with little maintenance once established. Yes, it's native to these parts, too.


Isn't this a fabulous leaf? It's a native too, Penstemon barrettiae or Barrett's penstemon. I had one for several years but it eventually pooped out on me. Purple flowers. I LOVE this plant and will get another. Needs great drainage and sun. Stunning plant.




Spiraea betulifolia or birch leaf spiraea, one I have highlighted from my own garden. They can handle much more sun than I give them.



A broader look at the outside garden with some sun-loving natives that help to support wildlife and build healthy soil. Down below is the bioswale Sheila helped to create. Just on the other side of this part of the garden is her veggie garden.


Earlier I mentioned that Sheila's home is solar powered. See the panels here? Hers was the first home in Oregon to have angled panels; that is to say that they fit the contours of the roof line so they aren't obvious. How clever and visually satisfying is that? I love it. I didn't even notice them, to tell you the truth. She had to point them out to me.


Here is a shot of them from inside the home.


Here's another shot with the extended garden facing south with a view of the neighborhood beyond.


The outer garden with a field of Gaillardia aristata or blanket flower, another pollinator favorite.






From the veggie garden, there is a trail around towards the west side of the house (garden shed on the left), towards the back of the garden and home.



A tucked away shady picnic spot. How lovely...nice Doric columns, too.


Here's the north of the home and garden with multiple bird feeders and shady areas.


Birdfeeders and shade...something she can see from outside her window. Blue elderberry or Sambucus nigra in the background with the white flowers.


Ginger or Asarum caudatum, a lovely native groundcover for shade. Pinkish flowers are Bletilla striata.





Maidenhair fern or Adiantum pedatum.




View looking north across the river to Washington from inside the house. Wow.
So, speaking of inside the house:


Light, airy and open. It feels good to be in Sheila's home, filled with bright colors, carefully chosen fabrics, floors, textures and a lifetime of artwork. Books, lighting, paint colors - it all blends seamlessly in a functional dream of a sunlit home that makes you want to linger.


Her garden and utility room. How sweet would this be to work in? Notice the floors, made of cork, good on the feet and the environment.


View of the main room with the kitchen, the living room and dining area.


A work of art by our mutual friend, Sharon Bronzan, with whom I traveled to Hood River to visit Sheila. This is a new work of Sharon's from an exhibition titled Luck at a recent Augen Gallery exhibition earlier this summer. Sharon is an amazing artist, one of my very favorites EVER. You can see more of her work on Augen's website here.


Her sweet kitchen and custom table and chairs, hand-made and quite comfortable - made for sitting..in other words, "butt friendly" no, it's "bun friendly"...I have it right now... is how she put it, if I remember correctly.


Details.




More details. This is actually a Little and Lewis (of Bainbridge Island, WA) sculpture filled with tadpoles and duckweed.





Thank you, Sheila for a wonderful day out. It was an honor to spend time together and to visit your incredible, thoughtful, beautiful and artful home. Your garden is a bountiful paradise full of native plantings, and you quite surprised me with the sun-loving plants! Yours is a garden for the birds and insects, for people to enjoy visually and through taste and smell. Your home is a joy to be in, I wished all homes were as welcoming and warm and energy efficient.

Thank you for making a difference and for leading the way. You have had a profound effect on how I think about building and creating and how I want to live my own life.

That's it this week from Chickadee Gardens, until next time, thank you for reading and happy gardening! 





33 comments :

  1. Lovely garden, reminding me of some Portuguese properties. And loving her bright, citrus tone colour scheme as well, both inside and out!

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    1. It is bright and colorful, just like Sheila. A wonderful person, home and garden indeed :) I bet she'd like the Portuguese association!

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  2. What a treat it must have been to visit this great home and garden. I'm so amazed to see a garden without a single brown leaf this summer. I have lots of that ginger in my garden, but it doesn't look like that, it's pretty parched. What is the pink-flowered plant with the strappy leaves in the shot of the ginger?

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    1. It was a treat, a lovely lovely day and I didn't want to leave. The plant in question is Bletilla striata. Lovely, isn't it?

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    2. Say Alison, we actually have that Bletilla here at the nursery - it's pretty cool! Let me know if you want me to set some aside for you!

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  3. What a fun outing you had! Did you visit Humble Roots while you were out that way?

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    1. Oh, we didn't have time, but I've been there before and plan to do a blog post about them someday. Their website is great too, a total photographic encyclopedia of all the plants they carry. Very cool.

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  4. I love Hood River, my sister lived there for 20 years. This is a wonderful garden perfect for those long summer days!

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    1. Nice! I hope you got to visit her a lot while she was there. This garden is a testament to how to garden for low water and long hot summers, especially in the very very dry region of Hood River.

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  5. I love Mediterranean gardens and this one is beautiful! The plants, hardscape, and house all fit together wonderfully. Her home is beautiful inside, too. I don't see any clutter. It's open and bright and lovely.

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    1. No clutter here, that's just not her style. Bright and lovely is spot-on, Evan :) It's truly a dream of a place to be in and around.

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    2. I grew up with clutter and it drove me crazy. I'd love to live in a house like that.

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  6. A beautiful home, surrounded by a wonderful garden in a spectacular setting. I covet those orchids (but they wouldn't survive here). Thanks for sharing your visit.

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    1. Those orchids are spectacular, aren't they? Glad you enjoyed the tour!

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  7. So beautiful, and the garden is so clean! It seems to be quite a large lot, and what a view! Thanks for sharing your visit!

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    1. It is a large lot, I think she said a double lot if I remember correctly. The view, I know! Wow. The whole place is magic, glad to bring it to you!

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  8. I love this house and garden. First I saw was the design of the garden just wonderful and the colours inside of the house just great!

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    1. She is all about color, Sheila is an artist herself and an excellent colorist. They are all very uplifting and calming at the same time, just wonderful.

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  9. Katherine Ace9:31 AM PDT

    What a thoughtful and emotional garden and home. Life flourishes there! It was also great to see Sharon's timeless and quietly spectacular painting which seemed very much at home there.

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    1. Hi Katherine!! Thanks for reading and commenting! Her place is so so special, isn't it? Just a joy and Sharon's work is so at home there...all 4 or 5 works in total...the carpet commissioned by Sheila and executed by Christiane Millinger, the glass door, the three? paintings by Sharon. It's all magic :) - Tamara

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  10. You are a great ambassador, bringing us to some wonderful places. This one is quite inspirational.

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    1. Aw, thanks Rickii!! And great to see you at the nursery the other day! I hope your plants bring you lots of joy :)

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  11. That thyme lawn is spectacular! I've been wondering how various thymes might hold up as small lawn substitutes.

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    1. Isn't it? I want to know her secret. Maybe hot sun and lots of it. There is a great post on the Sissinghurst blog about their thyme lawn you might want to follow...I love the idea.

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  12. Very very nice. Both my parents grew up in Hood River, and still have family there, so I have spent a LOT of time there. Love it.

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    1. How cool, I love that place. I'd consider living there myself but it's a bit far out. Would you ever?

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  13. What a cool place! I love it! :o)

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    1. Glad you love it! Thanks for commenting and reading, Casa!! :)

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  14. What a treat! It really did look like you went to Europe...

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    1. Yay! It does look like Italy or Spain or something, doesn't it? Goes to show all the different climates here in Oregon.

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  15. Beautiful home and garden. All the plants look happy and healthy. The Sambucus looks just as good here in a much different climate--what a tough plant it is.

    My sister has vacationed in Hood River a few times--has a friend with a home there--said it's beautiful...now I believe her!

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  16. What a fun visit! I love that semicircular wall and pond right out front. And her use of color is really nice too. Thanks for the tour.

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  17. I loved Peter Goldblatt's staggeringly awesome garden, but this one... this is the home and garden that makes me think, "When can I move in?" Just wonderful!

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