Autumn at Lakewold Gardens

October 7, 2011

Patch of tiny cyclamen on the forest floor, Lakewold Gardens

The visual rewards of gardens may be less obvious in fall or winter, but they are still worthy of a visit.  I returned to the Lakewold Gardens this past weekend to see what it had to offer on a gray, damp autumn day.  Here are some photos:

Green canopy of dappled leaves

Cyclamen encircling an old tree

Anemone in bloom

A variation of pale maple leaves

Looking up yielded some of the best sights in the garden

We are seeing a second bloom of crocuses this year (one in spring and again this fall)

For sale in the garden store at Lakewold Gardens

Watercolor sketch of white anemones


“Of all the chores in the garden, I find [dead-heading rhododendrons] the most agreeable . . . I let the blossoms tumble to the earth so that they form a glowing pool of colour which makes them look, from a distance, as though Monet had been wandering around with a loaded brush.”
— Beverley Nichols, “Garden Open Today”

The rhododendrons are now pretty much withered and faded, but I did want to try painting them this year.  The coast rhododendron is Washington State’s flower, voted in 1892.  They come in so many colors.

Watercolor sketch of rhododendron

Rhododendron on my kitchen windowsill

Rhododendron at Lakewold Gardens

Rhododendron at Lakewold Gardens

Delicate rhododendron blossom

Old wooden wheelbarrow, Lakewold Gardens

If you are looking for serenity in a natural setting, I highly recommend the Lakewold Gardens about 10 miles south of Tacoma.  It is just a few minutes off of I-5 between Seattle and Portland, and I can’t believe that no one has told me about it in the 30+ years I’ve lived in this region. It’s definitely worth seeking out this “undiscovered” gem.

The gardens are on a formerly private estate, and they were the creation and vision of Eulalie Wagner.  The gardens unfold in a series of “rooms” or nooks — a rhododendron path, open lawn, fern garden, tea house and cherry trees, pond, rock garden, knot garden, etc.  At the center is the Wagner House, where visitors can enjoy a wisteria-covered veranda and peek into the elegant rooms on the ground floor.

Here are some photos to give you a sense of this special place:

The wisteria-covered veranda of the Wagner House, Lakewold Gardens

Staircase, Wagner House

Wallpaper mural covers the wall in the foyer, Wagner House

Veranda scented by white wisteria, Wagner House

Himalayan Blue Poppies, Lakewold Gardens

Rhododendrons along Circle Drive

Tea House with lattice roof

Moss-covered branches in Lookout Peace Garden

Foliage against towering evergreen trees

Allium in thee cutting garden

Unusual purple stems with leaves fanning out

In the Garden Shop, Lakewold Gardens

In the Garden Shop

Late-season bloom -- Himalayan blue poppies

. . . and the trail led to the Lakewold Gardens south of Tacoma, Washington (  I had read in Lakewold: A Magnificent Northwest Garden that the rare blue Himalayan poppy is one of their featured flowers.  I called before my visit, and they assured me that a few late blooms would still be in evidence.  I’d never been to the Lakewold Gardens, but I knew that seeing some Himalayan poppies would be worth the price of admission.

I think you will agree when you see these photos:

Himalayan Blue Poppy

We found a few Himalayan blue poppies along the edge of the Flag Lawn at Lakewold Gardens.

Lovely cornflower blue color

Close-up of Himalayan blue poppy

More blue poppies

We found these two poppies in the Hardy Fern Garden.

Himalayan blue poppy and ferns

Watercolor sketch of Himalayan Blue Poppy