Thursday, October 08, 2015

Portland Garden Tour West: Jane Platt

There is another garden I would like to share from the Portland Garden Tour West event held last month in Portland's West Hills. It's likely the more famous of the two (last week we visited Cynthia Woodyard's garden). This time it's the Jane Kerr Platt garden on a spectacular two-and-a-half acre lot. This plant collection is considered a Portland treasure full of rare, unusual and mature trees.


Jane Kerr was the daughter of the Peter Kerr, the creator of another well-known Portland garden we've seen before--Elk Rock at Bishop's Close. John Platt bought the property in 1937. It had been an apple and cherry orchard but John and his wife, who grew up among an amazing garden, turned it into something special. She and her father were both interested in specimen plants and since he exported wheat to Asian lands, his ships were able to bring back incredible specimens of plants on the return trip, thus exposing Jane at a young age to what must certainly have been unique findings to Portland at that time. It is said that many of the treasures here started as cuttings from her father's garden at Elk Rock.


John passed away in 2013 at the great age of 100; Jane many years before. Their son David and his family are the current caretakers, along with other gardeners.



The drive up to the residence gives a clue as to what I would discover.


The great, gently sloping lawn was a surprise, but with that much land it would be a nice foil to the many surrounding mature trees. 


More plantings closer to the residence.


The residence was designed pre-WWII by noted Northwest architect Pietro Belluschi, known for such buildings as the Portland Art Museum, the Equitable Building and the Pacific Building here in Portland. He designed many others in New York and other parts of the West Coast. Known as a leader in the Modern Movement in architecture, his lines are clean and designs simple and livable. What lucky people to have lived here all those years.


A stunning weeping cedar or Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula' near the front.


One of a pair of urns near the residence.


The great lawn and a weeping cedar.


This caught me by surprise.


Wandering around the gardens of mostly conifers and broadleaf evergreens. Most if not all of the collection is very special. Jane and John were interested in collecting what they considered to be the very finest plants. They had a special admiration for Rhododendron species -- I imagine this garden is stunning in late spring when they are in blossom. I also understand there are many ephemeral spring flowers planted, I would very much like to see it in bloom. There are also many Magnolia species here, some named after Jane which were among her favorites. Some of John's favorites include Hamamelis species or witch hazels, reportedly due to their very early bloom time. There is also a Franklinia alatamaha, but I do not seem to have a photograph of it.


The pond near the house with a whisper of a waterfall.


I have to admit that I did not take note of specific species, rather I strolled about to enjoy my visit.





Jane was known for her effective garden-design talents. They planned this garden for the long-haul and we are all able to reap the rewards decades later. Many plants are allowed to grow to to their full, natural glory.



The garden today is the result of many changes over the years. Plants and trees have died, and David and his family have added to it to suit their aesthetic as well as honor his mother and father's.


Views from different vantage points give a sense of size.





The waves of this Hakonechloa macra are a good replacement for a water feature.




One of the many Rhododendron species, perhaps R. pachysanthum?






Another glorious Rhododendron. Stunning.


A bit of woodland shade and Mahonia or Oregon Grape.


This sweet buddy greeted me at the top of the shady garden. I do not know the artist but I would certainly like to.


More of the Rhododendron species forest.


Bark of a Stewartia monadelpha, the centerpiece of this part of the garden.


Many plants have been allowed to naturalize.


Tree peony foliage.


Yellow waxbells, a sweet shade plant or Kirengeshoma palmata. We have these at the nursery right now, seeing them here thinks maybe I need to buy one.




Beautyberry or Callicarpa americana.


A gorgeous Japanese umbrella pine or Sciadopitys verticilla.


Needles of the pine.






Another view of the cozy home with anemones and a turquoise urn.







Having now visited this garden (for my first time) for the Portland Garden Tour West, I can understand its significance, especially here in Portland although it should be noted that Jane Platt was known abroad as an incredible plantswoman. I am honored to have been able to visit. I certainly appreciate the subtle beauty - it's not a place that hits you over the head with "wow" unless full-grown conifers make you excited. They have that effect on me. It's elegant and feels friendly like a lot of time and love went into its making. It has history, too. There is a cedar hedge around the property now over 100 years old. Two of the original apple trees from the 19th century orchard still remain. It's a garden of flowing beauty, natural and serene. I hope to visit again someday during a different time of year.

The Portland Garden Tour West was a great gathering and a lot of work by its volunteers. If you go next year you will not be disappointed. May it continue on through the years.

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




24 comments :

  1. Seeing your photos, I am sorry I didn't visit this garden back in June, when it was open during the Plant Study Weekend. It was a very hot weekend, and this was one of the last gardens, so I decided to skip it and drive back home early. I was tired and cranky. That's a lovely shot of the Hakone grass. And the weeping cedar is fabulous. I wish I had room, not just for one to grow to full size, but the land to put it in its appropriate setting.

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    1. I understand it is open from time to time, Alison - so I'll keep my eyes open for you! Yes, the size of this garden allows for these mature trees to really shine.

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  2. Very interesting garden, I was really impressed by the huge weeping cedar in front of the house. Like the cosy house too, it really belongs to this garden, I think.

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    1. Isn't that impressive? It is massive, indeed. The home and garden do belong together, well-said, Janneke.

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  3. A beautiful garden that looks tranquil as well!

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    1. I would also describe it as tranquil, indeed!

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  4. Beautiful. I am not familiar with yellow waxbells but want some! It is good to know that you grow beautyberry there. It does well here in Alabama too.

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    1. Oh yes, beautyberry does quite well here! Bring it with you if you have some!

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  5. Really special, and huge! It would be wonderful to enjoy a garden that my parents or grandparents had designed and tended!

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    1. Yes, special and huge...wouldn't that be something if we could tend gardens throughout generations? Very special.

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  6. what a beautiful property. so serene!

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    1. It is...worth a visit if it's open for HPSO, Fifi!

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  7. So very Old Portland. If only other landmarks could have been handed down and tended so lovingly. I've heard of this garden as long as I've been interested in gardening. Thanks for finally giving me a glimpse. Imagine how exotic much of this plant material must have seemed way back when hardly anyone paid attention to such things. The understated waterfall and the bear sculpture are emblematic of the serenity of the place.

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    1. You are so right, Rickii. I thought about the "exotics" too and how they must have seemed that way and what our eyes today bring to the mix. I don't think it's changed a LOT but still.....I hope you get to see it someday!

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  8. Just hope this home and garden survive the mentality newcomer buyers to Portland who do not respect the ecosystem and classic homes tearing them down to build a so-called Modern box or McMansion.

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    1. Oh, I know...very good point. I'm thrilled it's such a part of Portland history, let's all make sure it stays that way, indeed!

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  9. Just like Ricki, I was thinking about how absolutely unique many of these plants must have been when they first arrived. Whether we realize it or not, our current abundance stem from these and other trail blazers who first brought the exotics over. We're so spoiled nowadays... That weeping Cedar is a sight to see, indeed! Absolutely marvelous! :)

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    1. Oh, I know Anna. What I was thinking too. We are so spoiled with our choices and availability, especially in Oregon where we can grow nearly anything.

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  10. What a lush and lovely garden. Just looking at your photos evokes a sense of peace and quiet. This garden is certainly larger than most of those we saw in Portland at the Garden Bloggers Fling. I love seeing all those beautiful trees native to the Pacific Northwest. We’re having a garden tour in Austin next weekend, and several garden bloggers were given a preview tour and I’ve been posting about those gardens this last week. Such a dramatic contrast to yours!

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    1. It is lush and lovely, isn't it? Oh, yes Diana - this is two acres or something like that. Huge trees, mature, it all spells time and nature, two things we have no control over but Jane had great foresight. Looking forward to seeing your posts about the Austin tour!! I'll check them out for sure.

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  11. Thanks for sharing this Portland treasure! Mature conifers make my heart sing. Something about experiencing such beauty and size in person is awe inspiring. How wonderful to be able to grow so many great trees to maturity. Let's see, the Chickadee garden will soon be moving to a larger property...hmm.

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    1. They make my heart sing too, Peter. The age of these trees and shrubs, too - we often don't allow plants to mature. And yes, I have some trees in my stash :)

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  12. I bet it's amazing in the spring. I would be walking around petting all the new growth on the conifers. :)

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    1. I would love to see it in spring. If you look it up, there are a few Oregonian and Portland Monthly articles with photos...very lovely. I love the visual of you petting all the trees, very sweet!

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