Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dan Hinkley's garden at Windcliff

The gardens and view to the sea at Windcliff.
Saturday, September 5th, was a day for a special treat; the Northwest Horticultural Society arranged a tour to Daniel Hinkley's garden, which is located at Windcliff in Indianola, a short ferry ride out from Edmonds near Seattle. The tour had booked out very early, but due to a cancellation, I luckily got in at the last minute.
Garden pond surrounded by lush plantings.
Rosa mutabilis in full bloom.
Daniel Hinkley is one of the great living persons within botany and horticulture not only here in North America but also internationally (he was actually the first person within gardening that I knew from this area, mainly through articles by him and about him in Gardens Illustrated). He is a modern day plant explorer, vivid writer, interesting lecturer, talented plant breeder and nurseryman. Heronswood, his legendary nursery devoted to rare plants in Kingston near Seattle was a mecca for gardeners (it is now sold further). Reading his biography can make anyone short of breath; such accomplishments can only been made by a person with inexhaustible energy and commitment, and of course, deep love to one's cause, which in his case is plants of all kind.

A beautifully crafted fire pit and a detail of the stonework.

Windcliff was planted by Daniel and his partner Robert Jones mainly after 2005, and it is amazing to see how it has matured only in four years. Robert, who is a former architect, mentioned that they had no special plan for the garden, but it had evolved through an intuitive process of planting what felt right for the place. Of course, Daniel being no ordinary gardener, the results are just stunning. The site has a breathtaking view towards Mount Rainier and Seattle city skyline and the garden lingers towards the sea through organic mounds of plantings and small intimate paths where you can touch the plants and they can happily answer your greetings.

Plantings around the house.
Windcliff is, naturally, a plantsman's garden with many rarities and specialities, but there is none of the often cluttered effect connected with many of those gardens. The overall feeling of this completely contemporary garden is so exquisite and harmonious that it makes you admire the aesthetic talent that was needed to create it. Many skillfully made details, art and handicraft, witness also about Daniel's and Robert's love for all things good and beautiful in life.

Daniel (in brown t-shirt) talking with the visiting garden people.
It was lovely to see Daniel answering all questions with a friendly smile and a great interest and letting us to his garden despite the obvious risks of almost 100 persons wandering through this private haven. I felt like I didn't only get to see a gorgeous garden, but also got a glimpse of a person who has lived his life well, true to his passion and calling, concentrating his powers on the things he loves, and who is ready to share the results with those who are interested. "Rather than obscurity, rarity, or breathtaking beauty, the quality that I find most appealing in a plant is possession of a unique character", said Daniel in his book The Explorer's Garden (1999). At Windcliff, Daniel and Robert have definitely succeeded in creating a garden with rarely seen, breathtaking beauty and a unique character.
Roy Lancaster and his wife Sue were also at Windcliff during this tour, and I had a chance to have a wonderful chat with this world renowned plantsman and author about the plants in northern Scandinavia and Nordkap, that Roy had visited some years ago. Roy is giving the Elisabeth Carey Miller annual memorial lecture in Seattle next week (09/17/09), speaking on "Mad About Plants--A Plantsman's Garden". Don't miss this fantastic possibility to get to listen to this legendary plantsman if you are near Seattle.


Crix said...

Hi :)
Thank you so much for your visit to my blog. I know, some times I'm lazy and the translation gets missing ;) In the future I'll try to increase my english.
I love your photos too and specially these kind of gardens with an informal appearance.
Big Hug

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hi Crix, it really would be nice to get even a bit of your texts translated; I am afraid my Portuguese is not going to get anywhere any time soon, despite many Brazilian friends here in Seattle. I love your pictures, really beautiful and wild.

Tina said...

That garden looks exquisite and what a location. I'm especially taken with the firepit - a work of art.

Daniel Mount said...

What a great opportunity. Nothing is wasted on your observant eye. daniel

teresa said...

such a beautiful place. thanks for the tour. I love when people post about places like this that are so far away that there's little chance I would ever get there. At least I can see far away, even if it is just at my computer.

M/S Design said...

I like your blogg!

Well Done said...

Dan is the Man. Thank you for the online tour of Windcliff.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful and interesting blog. So glad I found it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog.

Auntie Green from Denmark