heronswood publicity poster
Image: Heronswood

Longtime West Coast gardeners remember the erudite, witty and encyclopedic plant catalogs written by plant explorer, nurseryman, naturalist and garden designer Dan Hinkley in the late 80s/early 90s. (Some of us still treasure those original catalogs.) Hinkley and his partner Robert Jones' now-legendary Kingston, Washington nursery, Heronswood (no longer operating) and the display gardens that surrounded it comprised a true horticultural mecca for plantspeople world-wide.

To the delight of plant lovers all over, there will be a plant sale and open garden on May 18, 2013 featuring free talks, rare plant sales and garden tours. Garden tours occur throughout the day and cost $10, with all proceeds going towards the restoration and maintenance of the garden - a process that will likely take years.

The nursery went through difficult times in the past 12 years after being sold to seed giant, Burpee in 2000. Burpee struggled unsuccessfully to make this regional specialty nursery profitable by paring down its offerings, turning the idiosyncratic, text-rich and picture-poor plant list into a glossy catalog and going nation-wide. Burpee closed Heronswood in 2006 and the garden has been languishing ever since while Burpee tried to sell it. Fortunately, its acquisition last summer by a Native American tribe - the Port Gamble S'Kalallam - with a record of responsible land stewardship - bodes well for its future. The 15-acre garden also sits on historic S'Kalallam tribal land.

The Plant Sale and Garden Open on May 18, 2013 runs from 10 am to 5 pm. The last garden tour starts at 4 pm.

It may seem like a long trip to take just to visit a garden. But it's a mighty special garden! And if you're looking for garden inspiration or fascinating plants that can't be found just anywhere, this event shouldn't be missed. While trip could be done in one very long day (maybe 3.5 hours' drive each way), it would be a more relaxing overnight journey.

Scheduled events that day begin with Dan Hinkley's 11:30 am talk titled "Heronswood: Past, Present and Future" about the early days at Heronswood and the work being done today to restore the gardens. At 1 pm, Dodson and Milliken from Far Reaches Farms present "Plants Outside the Mainstream". And at 2 pm, Hinkley gives a second talk on foliage in the garden ("Foliage First"). Talks are first come, first served - arrive early.

Hinkley will have plants for sale from his current garden, Windcliff. There will also be plants from Dodson and Milliken's Far Reaches Farm,The Desert Northwest, Colvos Creek and many more superb regional nurseries.

The S'Klallam Singers will perform throughout the day and local vendors will sell food.

The garden is scheduled to be open a few more times this summer, including on May 18th, July 6th, and September 2, 2013.

To learn more about the garden, visit Heronswood's website or Heronswood's Facebook page. If you never had a chance to visit the garden in its prime - or even if you did, and want to see what is happening - do visit on Saturday May 18, 2013. It's a beautiful area, and there are plenty of other nurseries and gardens to visit while you're up there. Questions? Call 360-297-7410 or email them via their website. Address: 7530 NE 288th, Kingston WA 98346.

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