African Garden + work

Dragonfly Farms, Bainbridge Island; I Became Alice
part of a project assigned by David Perry during a workshop on Bainbridge Island

Seattle is a mecca for gardeners, and Bainbridge Island is a magical place for gardens. The day the traveling party called Seattle Fling 11 made its way there, the skies clouded over and rain became our near-constant companion. It put a damper on those of us trying to do a photo project assigned by David Perry to shoot only one part of the Bloedel Reserve (more on that later) as if it were for a magazine article.

As I'm sure you've come to suspect, I subscribe to the belief that most rules should be treated more like guidelines (to steal a line from "Pirates of the Caribbean"), so when the rain finally abated, I found my "story" at our last stop of the tour, Dragonfly Farms, a retail nursery whose tagline is "Where Abnormality is the Normality."

I was wandering alone through the display gardens when I spied an intriguing garden behind a line of trees and hedge.

As I searched for the entrance, I found myself feeling very like Alice, trying to find a way into a beautiful garden.

It then occurred to me that all of the Seattle-area gardens are Wonderland. One feels suddenly small when surrounded by towering plants that often are merely waist-high at home. I'd swear I'd drunk something that made me smaller, and I never did find the bottle to make me large again until I went home.

The colors of the blooms are more intense there as well. I saw many Geraniums that I grow that were vibrant and vivid, while mine are pale and insipid after days of highs in the 90sF.

Geraniums, Thuja and Brunnera (probably 'Diane's Gold')

I finally found a way in,

but I think it was the egress rather than the entrance.

No matter, the paths lured me further inside. Behind shrubs and through plants were glimpses

Geranium and Cotinus coggyria

that demanded further investigation.

A Geranium and a Lychnis provide bright zings of color.

Plants were repeated throughout this garden area, but in combination with different plants each time, giving the garden a feeling of unity.

I saw fantastical creatures: giant slugs

and dragons,

green dragon (Arisaema dracontium I think)

and things that weren't always what they seemed.

I didn't notice any caterpillars, so I can't tell you whether they were smoking hookahs, but it wouldn't have surprised me if they were.


Dragonfly Farms is a gem of a nursery, with inspiring plantings, cool garden art and a good selection of plants.

And yes, I did buy something to bring home. It's Hosta 'Dragon Tales', a mini that ties Seattle Fling to Buffa10 fling in my mind, as the Shadracks' Hosta garden in upstate New York inspired me to plant mini Hostas in containers.

Many thanks to Heidi Kaster, the owner of Dragonfly Farms for opening up just for us. It was a whimsical delight.

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Dragonfly Farms, Bainbridge Island; I Became Alice + work