Looking for a summer getaway to stimulate your horticultural senses? Hop a ferry to Bainbridge Island and visit a nursery filled with plants suited to our dry summer climate.
Mesogeo Gardens specializes in drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, deer-proof Mediterranean plants, along with hardy tropical varieties. Owners Terry Moyemont and Terri Stanley, a married couple, will greet you on a visit to the nursery and guide you through their intriguing selection of plants. All about places Plants that thrive in the Mediterranean do well in the Northwest. With our wet winters and dry summers and our relatively mild temperatures, the Northwest has a Mediterranean climate. Mesogeo features plants from other dry-summer/wet-winter regions, including South Africa, Chile, Australia and our own West Coast, from California to British Columbia, Canada.
Plants are about place, says Terri Stanley. Most of the plants we grow in gardens come from somewhere else in the world, from another climate and culture. Plants connect us with those places.
Many of the plants from Mediterranean areas have strongly scented foliage — the oils are a means of coping with a dry climate. The fragrance reinforces our sensual interaction with the plants.
All about the plants The nursery is located on a 135-year-old farm, surrounded by garden beds packed with the plants the nursery offers, so you can see what your new plants will grow into and how they combine with each other.
The nursery offers nine kinds of rockroses (Cistus). I value rockroses in the garden because they are evergreen, need no additional summer water and bloom beautifully. Many of them grow too big for small gardens; Mesogeo comes to the rescue by specializing in smaller, difficult-to-find varieties, from 18 inches to 3 feet tall.
One of my favorites is Cistus ladanifer var. sulcatus Palhlinhae. This 3-foot shrub has stunning 4-inch white flowers with a yellow center, set off by the deep-green foliage. But wait, there is more: the leaves glisten with ladanifer gum, the myrrh of the Bible, making the plant the most fragrant of all the rockroses.
The Horned Poppy (Glucium flavum auranticum) from Greece sparks up your garden with bright-orange flowers, backed up with metallic-blue leaves.
From Chile comes Lobelia tupa, a 5- to 7-foot plant with spikes of blood-red flowers and large matte-green leaves. Hummingbirds love the nectar. This tropical-looking plant is Zone 7, matched perfectly to our Seattle gardens. The nursery carries several other Chilean lobelias, as well.
Sites to be seen Visiting Mesogeo makes me realize what gardening is all about: connecting with people and plants. Gardening is also about new discoveries and the spirit of adventure.
Mesogeo is located on the north end of Bainbridge Island, at 12364 Miller Road N.E. For more information, visit www.mesogeogardens.com.
Extend your outing with a visit to the nearby Bloedel Reserve, a spectacular garden open to the public. The Bloedel Reserve has changed its visiting policy and no longer requires advance reservations. For more information, call (206) 842-7631 or visit www.bloedelreserve.com.
PHIL WOOD is the owner of Phil Wood Garden Design in Seattle and is a widely published freelance writer.[[In-content Ad]]