At this bend in the road up to the Platt house and garden, the giant Pin Oak glows in the spring evening sun. The land had since the 1880s been an apple and cherry orchard when John Platt purchased it in 1937. That year he sold the fruit harvest for about $49, which he promptly used to pay his first property taxes.
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Color, line and texture are in harmony in this view of the main lawn. Platt cleared most of the old orchard trees (two apple trees remain) and over seven decades, with his wife Jane, created a singularly spectacular and iconic northwest garden.
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The central part of the garden is a gently sloping lawn on which these large trees seem to have landed gracefully, as if placed by angels. Actually, Jane Platt spent hours (days?) deciding where to plant what, and many plants and trees have been moved over the years.
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A split-top cedar stands proudly, sculpturally on the open lawn.
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The view from the side yard (where the "plant hospital" is located) shows off this stately evergreen alongside the entry road to the house.
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A softly focused vista, through layers of varying colors and textures of green, peeks into the sunlit open lawn.
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The scale and maturity of this 2 1/2 acre, seven decades-old garden makes looking up irresistible. Tree canopies vary beautifully.
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In the foreground, small scale detail, color and texture invite a close look, while the not-quite-hidden view to open lawn beckons one to keep walking through the garden.
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Moss-covered steps lead under tree limbs as if through a gate, from the open central lawn to the upper level of the garden.
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Graceful and "natural" composition, yet highly deliberate. Jane Platt would spend hours in the garden, carrying a folding stool with her and setting up in different spots to observe and contemplate. The garden was, like most gardens, an ever-evolving creation.
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Year-round color, line and texture contrast to form an elegant composition from nearly any view in the garden.
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More graceful contrasts of color, line and texture. These photos are taken in May, but Jane Platt's favorite time of year for the garden was February through April.
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Lacey texture contrasting with gnarly moss and smoothly arching, ribbed foliage.
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Some plants in this specimen garden invite a close-up, crouch-down-and-really-look sort of view. Here, Jack in the Pulpit.
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Again, a detailed look pays off: the leaves of this rhododendron are rusty copper.
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Jane Platt loved trees with interesting bark, for their year-round interest.
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Unusual texture (and color): the most cut-leaf of cut-leaf maples.
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Evergreen, but so many shades of green.
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Sculptural spring blossoms.
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Sculptural spring blossoms, mini-sized.
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Gardener and tour guide John Borowczak (right) and guest Hank Stratton, basking in the spring glow of a perfect Portland evening at the Jane Platt Garden.