The Chase Garden
Mount Rainier from the Chase Garden
Today I’m meeting friend for lunch at the Chase Garden. This will probably be my last visit there since it is closing for good this Friday. I’m very saddened by the turn of events that has lead to this. Having worked for years in public horticulture and public gardens I can understand the reasons why but it doesn’t make it any less sad.
There are many exceptional gardens in the Northwest. If you are like me, and have one that is close, you can visit it on a regular basis and really get to know the garden and develop a real sense of the creators vision for that particular place.
I’m lucky to live just five minutes from the Chase Garden. The Chase Garden is the only garden in Washington that is a Garden Conservancy Garden. The Garden Conservancy’s mission is to save and preserve America’s exceptional gardens. The Chase Garden was certainly worth that effort. I know the Garden Conservancy tried their best to make it work since their partnership in 1998.
The garden was the lifework of Emmott and Ione Chase, who devoted more than forty years to building and refining the landscape to create one of the finest examples of mid-twentieth century Pacific Northwest design. They created Japanese-inspired ponds and bridges surrounding the house and a colorful meadow filled with drifts of rock garden plants inspired by wildflower fields on Mount Rainier. They planted native shrubs and carpets of trillium, erythronium, and vanilla leaf in naturalistic woodlands of second-growth Douglas fir trees. Their artful, modernist landscape truly captures the unique spirit of the place.
Although I have treated myself to almost weekly visits and enjoyed the snowdrops, trilliums and vanilla leaf in the woods it is the spring time of year that the garden really shines. The ground covers in the alpine meadow start to bloom creating an amazing carpet of color. On a clear day the view of Mount Rainier is unsurpassed. It looks like you can reach out and touch it across the river valley. This time of year the garden is progressing into the summer season.
the view toward the mountain (without the mountain)
When I lived in the city I made the trek out here to see the garden which was about 100 mile round-trip. It was well worth it. Having it just 5 minutes away made it irresistible.
On a little side note, Emmott and Ione were in their 50’s when they started to garden there. Gary and I were in our 50’s when we bought Old Goat Farm, so that gives me hope of a long and happy life here in the foothills of that beautiful mountain.
The Chase Gardens future may be uncertain but I can only hope the next caretaker of this special spot will love it as much as Emmott and Ione did (and many of us). As a closing note I plead with all of you to support public gardens because once gone all our lives are just a little less beautiful.
Spring view = Bergenia
Into the woods