Monday, August 29, 2016

The Garden of Argyle

On my list of "Things I Love", the top three are: 1) French bulldogs, 2) plants, and 3) champagne (or sparkling wine here in the US). 

Yesterday, I got a good dose of 2 and 3!   

My trusty partner in crime, Alan, of mardigrasgardener and I hopped in the car and drove to Dundee, Oregon to visit Argyle, one of my favorite wineries.  

I had not been to Argyle for about a year and was unaware of the many changes there. Alan had seen the new garden in it's infancy last year and was eager to see it this summer.

I'm afraid that this post will be light on plant names and will ramble a little, as plantings are not marked and I have the memory of a peanut, when I'm bombarded with so many lovely things to look at.    

Several of the buildings have been re-purposed and the traditional garden that used to circle the old tasting room has been removed. A few plants like the old wisteria off the back porch, a crabapple? and a Ginkgo in the front yard stayed. The old camellias and such that were no longer wanted were donated to other sites in the area to be reused in the landscape. The previous garden plants consumed too much water.

The new gardens were designed and created by Sean Hogan of Cistus Design and Nursery.

Many gardeners in Portland salivate at the mere mention of Cistus Nursery and all the plant delights they sell at their retail location out on Sauvie Island. 

There were two garden tours on Sunday and Sean, some of the workers responsible for the installation of the plants, and Cathy Martin, the Marketing Coordinator for Argyle were present to answer questions and tell the story of this new garden.

The garden is about a year old and was planted during some of the hottest summer weather. They had a hard time getting certain plants watered enough in the beginning and a few plants had to be replanted. Clearly many of the plants have now settled into their new home and were beginning to take off.

The gist of the new garden design was to be as water responsible as possible and also to contain plants particularly adapted to grow here, native or otherwise. Plants that could withstand low water but also wouldn't mind a occasional drink to keep looking good for garden visitors were chosen. While still being water conscious, some areas closer to the house would receive a little more water and then areas father away to support a diversity of plants in the garden. Also important was the garden's ability to draw people in and let them get lost in the paths among the plants.

Minimal signage was important but still adequate enough to send visitors the right way. 

The Spiral Garden

Bouteloua gracilis (Grama Grass)


I would call the color palate of the garden very restrained. Lots of gray, silver, blue-green with a hint of gold and white here and there. Pops of color came from flowers such as orange Zauschneria, red Salvia darcyi, white Cistus and purple Lobelia siphilitica.

Various Oaks from around the world, Manzanita (over 300!), Daphne, and Ceanothus are included. 

Cork Oak?
Next to the tasting room was a grass "lawn" of native Carex. This same Carex was repeated throughout the garden. There was a diversity of grasses used in the design, the day's most eye catching being Bouteloua gracilis (Grama Grass) and the not quite a grass Rhodocoma capensis (Giant Cape Restio).

Feathery Restios and the Carex Lawn
Crepe Myrtle
Hesperaloe and Carex
A bypass is planned for the city, so the main drag of traffic just beyond the garden will be soon diverted. Walls of quickly growing Ceanothus were planted to help shield the garden from the noise and obscure the view of the street.
Street View

There were a few details of the garden design that the city required, such as instillation of bike racks and a bioswale for parking lot run off, but these were relatively easy to accommodate.

There is a test area for Manzanitas and a small area of Olive Trees near the Nut House.

Salvia darcyi

I call this "Blurp-a-lerpa" because I can never remember the name...
Phlomis 'Sunningdale Gold'
Archtostaphylos glandulosa
Cute little daisy-like flowers attracting native bees.
Olearia lineata 'Dartonii'

The tour guides Sean & Cathy.

The new Tasting Room.
I'm sure I've missed some of the details, but this is a lovely new garden and I look forward to seeing it evolve.

It's not like a need an excuse to visit Argyle, but the garden sure does sweeten the deal!




  1. Oh, lovely! Thanks for sharing your pictures! I need to make my garden more waterwise, but I still want flowers. I've tried a couple of times to get that Bouteloua grass established, but no luck.

    1. I have had that grass for a couple years and it has failed to flourish. Seeing it in an open space where it has room to do it's thing, makes me wish mine grew better.

  2. I've been wanting to get out there and tour that garden and taste some wine. Bonus to score a tour by the man himself.,

    1. It was clearly a "Sean/Cistus" garden. Having the client, the designer and some of the installers together to hear the stories of the garden made it a fun tour. I was a bit amazed how restrained the palette of plants was though.