Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday stroll at Lakewold Gardens

My parents were in town for a few days so being the good daughter that I am I took them to visit a place in town, Lakewold Gardens, that I've been wanting to visit for years...hehe...just a tad self serving, but I knew they would enjoy it too. I had a very bad experience ordering flowers for my Mom this year on Mother's Day...let me just warn you (my readers) don't order online from FTD!!!! She never got her I thought a garden full of flowers might make up for it a little.

A little history about the gardens...the plot of land sits on Lake Gravelly, now surrounded by mansion like homes. Remember, you can click on each picture to make them larger.

When it was originally bought for development in 1908 it was probably pretty woodsy as is much of the land around here, but over time the various owners transformed it into a showplace of a garden..manicured and wild at the same time. You can read about the history of the gardens HERE. In the 1950s, the latest owners had the help of Thomas Church who was a respected landscape architect who gave us the concept of "outdoor rooms". The linked article HERE about Church's connection to Lakewold gives more detail about some of its features. It was him that designed the beautiful Rhododendron walk as you enter the gardens.

We were told by the guide that there are over 900 rhodies in the garden and over 200 different varieties. This is one of the more unusual.

Some more recognizable

So many different colors

Some of interesting leaf shapes

Even the mess of losing their petals is beautiful in this setting...that's a bed of oxalis flowering under the rhodies.

After doing a rhodie "loop" you link up with the long curving driveway which is flanked by more rhodies and mature shading trees. There's almost a southern feel to this section of the gardens, reminding me of similar scenes featuring azaleas in my Louisiana home.

It's along this drive that you begin to get glimpses of the mansion which looks very formal and austere compared to the wild beauty around it. I think that's one of the things so special about this place is how the two opposites have been combined.

The mansion is flanked by a low wall featuring two sweet statues. A young lady

And maybe her brother or beau?

I was surprised to see this camellia still blooming in front of the house. It must be a very late variety

You can walk through a portion of the home and its used today for weddings and the like. This is a view from the library onto a little patio

And a chandelier in the foyer which showcases a beautiful curving staircase.

As you come around to the back of the house you find a wonderful surprise

We visited the gardens at just the right time to see the pergola decorated with various varieties of wisteria. The fragrance was wonderful and the view from beneath is what my garden dreams are made of.

Any view is improved when you look at it through a veil of Wisteria

As you step off the patio

And look back at the mansion you are struck with the "Englishness" of this section of the garden

...with the walls and vines, kiwi in this case

And hedge knot garden

And interesting statuary

And the cutting garden which had peonies blooming at the moment

And some unique perennials like this cute little columbine.

Here are my parents enjoying the English gardenishness of it all

There is a huge expanse of lawn behind the mansion, but surrounding it and below it is a path the brings you to the more natural sections of the garden. This photo shows the natural slope of the land down towards the lake. Just a side note..what you can't see in this was just to the right... a picnic basket and a blanket laid out waiting for its wandering picnickers to return. It was just so perfect it made my heart pitter patter.

Beautiful mossed carpeted paths lead you through the shade of the trees

This is looking toward the lake. There is some very good use of natural rocks..or well placed ones that were brought in...I'm not sure its too hard to tell..

The vignettes and "rooms" that have been created within the natural areas are amazing

Obviously well planned but somehow coming across as uncontrived

This stairway leads to one of the most beautiful outdoor rooms of the whole gardens

But before we reach our destination, lets look back down the stairway and you get a feel for the variety of trees that were used in creating this woodland paradise.

And here we a spot I could sit all day. This beautiful pond which has waterfalls leading to and away from it

Natural (?) bridges allow you to cross the slow flowing stream in a couple of areas

A few steps higher and your above the pond in the Peace Garden

Where there is quaint seating

And a rustic devotional....St. Francis I presume.

After pausing there for a bit of reflection you follow a short path, you emerge from the Woodland garden and enter a more formal area that is home to the Tea House

Which served as a bathhouse for the ornate pool

We missed the cherry blossoms that bloom here in the spring..but what a wonderful reason to go back next year!

Leading back towards the house is a beautiful little outdoor room with a bit of Japanese flavor

And a closer shot of that gorgeous maple

As many pictures as I've shown here its hard to capture all of the beautiful touches throughout the garden, like this cute little planter.

Filled with what I'm not 100% sure but I want to find out. Anybody have a clue? Maybe a kind of saxifrage?

There is a nice little walk leading to the giftshop where these candelabra primroses were growing

And for sale at the shop....this unusual variegated Japanese maple

If you have stayed with this tour through to the end you are quite the trooper! But just know I left out SO many if you're ever in the Tacoma area its worth the visit to these beautiful gardens. I will close with a mosaic made from a few of the MANY photos I took of the wisteria. I'm joining in on Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Go check out the rest of the beautiful mosaics.


Mimi said...

Wow, beautiful rhododendrons and wisteria.
It is nice your folks could spend a few days with you, this is the nicest time of the year to go touring gardens, warm but no so much you fade from the heat.
Thanks for the garden tour, Suzy!

Debbie said...

Suzy, I just adore wisteria. And what beautiful rhododendrons. I have some candelabra primrose in my garden, and they are blooming right now. Glad you got to tour the lovely gardens with your parents! If I am ever in the area, I would love to see the gardens.

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

Gorgeous flowers and awesome pictures! I enjoyed looking at them, thanks!

Cynthia said...

Suzy, your blog post was almost a good as being there. :) I read every word and clicked every picture. Thanks for taking us along on your tour.

I'm sure your mother would have preferred the garden visit to the FTD flowers even if they had arrived.

It's hard to conceive of the work that went into creating the gardens and maintaining them.

I love rhododendron and that red one is certainly unusual.

Foley said...

Stunning! Would love to have that as a B&B and stay for a week!!
The rhodies and wisteria were so lush..the scents must have been fantastic...
Glad you had a great visit with your folks..

32˙North said...

Hi Suzy,

What a wonderful outing with your folks. The grounds are incredible - wisteria is one of my all time favorites!


eileeninmd said...

What a beautiful place to visit, I enjoyed the tour and the lovely flowers. The rhododendron and wisteria are just gorgeous!

Dishesdone said...

Just gorgeous, Suzy! Looks like you had a fantastic time with your folks :) Such beautiful gardens!

Kathleen said...

Wow, that was many varieties of rhodies.
Mine did well this year..blooming now..
Thanks for the tour!

cappy and pegody said...

Oh Cousin Suzi, how lovely!!! Most any one of your pics would make a wonderful desktop photo, or screensaver. Good job, Girl! We can almost smell the flowers from here.
Also, we didn't have the greatest flowers delivered, either. TO me, and from me from online FTS. I think it depends on the town and their local business. Maybe I should have notified "corporate".

cappy and pegody said...

:"> I,of course, meant FTD

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