Read This: Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest


October 12, 2021

We hot-climate gardeners are finally feeling a breath of fall, as it shoos away the summer doldrums. The eagerly anticipated fall gardening season is at hand. Is it emotionally safe, therefore, to crack open a new book about Pacific Northwest gardens? Let’s live dangerously!

Photo courtesy of Gibbs Smith

Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest by Brian D. Coleman, with photographs by William Wright, came to my attention because the creative and cram-tastic Portland garden of Loree Bohl, publisher of Danger Garden, features prominently in it. So do several other gardens I’ve had the pleasure of visiting during Garden Bloggers Fling tours held in Portland and Seattle, including those of John Kuzma, Denise Lane, Lorene Edwards Forkner, and the spectacular spectacular Floramagoria, which earned the cover image.

Twenty lush, colorful, and artistically creative gardens from coastal Oregon and Washington get multi-page photo spreads and generous 1-2-page descriptions, along with informative photo captions. The author overlooks some PNW gardens you’d expect to see, like Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff — well covered elsewhere — in favor of a few quirkier spaces that some might deem less a garden and more of a structural attraction, like a treehouse getaway and an unusual stumpery.

Photo courtesy of Gibbs Smith

The book aims for a broad mix of gardens, from rural to suburban, expansive to intimate, tropical-style to Japanese-influenced, with plants ranging from agaves and yuccas to pitcher plants and ferns. (How do they manage to grow everything in the PNW?) Even if you can’t grow what they’re growing — and we here in Texas certainly can’t, for the most part — it’s fun to page through an eye-candy book like this for the armchair travel, for a design idea that jumps out at you, and for an appreciation of the beauty of a vastly different gardening climate.

Photo courtesy of Gibbs Smith

Don’t worry, Texas gardeners. It’s safe to read books like this now because we’re entering our best gardening season while the Pacific Northwest gardens are soon shutting down for the chilly, rainy winter. So enjoy!

Disclosure: Gibbs Smith sent me a copy of Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest for review. I reviewed the book at my own discretion and without any compensation. This post, as with everything at Digging, is my own personal opinion.

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All material © 2021 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.



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