Ashland Garden Club’s 2017 holiday party was festive and fun!
There is a gem of a garden at the Bloomsbury Coffee House, above the Bloomsbury Book Store at 290 E. Main St., or directly off Enders alley between First and Second streets. Bloomsbury’s hidden garden in downtown Ashland is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for September.
The surprising tree-shaded terraced garden is designed, planted, and tended by the Coffee House’s owner David Light. The garden has evolved over the 15 years that Dave has owned the café with many shifts and changes to layout and boundaries of the garden.
There is a watering system in place around the perimeter, but the many containers are watered by hand. Except for an extended two- or three-day cleanup in early Spring and special projects, Dave devotes from four to six hours a month for routine maintenance. Because it is part of the business and therefore carefully monitored, Dave knows he spends an average of $400 per year on the health and improvements to the garden.
Four years ago, Dave and new co-owner Terry Masters put a plan together to remake the garden terrace. They, along with strong customer support, rebuilt the patio into two terraces with a handsome tiled wall and the tiled medallioned drains. Among the stone and timber retaining walls are architectural concrete blocks with a Wright-like design. Dave and Terry created them by repurposing as a mold the plastic containers in which spinach is delivered to the café.
The bamboo border at the south end of the garden is contained by a two foot deep concrete barrier wall on three sides. The owners are on constant patrol for fugitive shoots on the one remaining side. When Light started the garden in 2002, the decorative water fountain on the west side was one of the first things installed. “Every garden needs its own water feature,” says Dave. The second water feature, in a giant urn, was added this year.
The large almond tree near the southwest corner is one of three almond trees plus the sycamore that were originally here. The other two almonds failed and were removed, opening the garden to a little more light, and replaced by a purple locust. The entire garden area is shady much of the year, so they seek out shade-loving plants. Dave enjoys landscaping as a hobby and his flair is evident. Although there is often lots of color in this garden throughout the seasons, Dave says texture is his most important consideration in choosing plants. Among his many admired plants are weigela, hostas, buddleia, Japanese anemone, and many more. The oak-leaf hydrangea, purchased as a gift from customers, is especially treasured. “Being a shadier garden, one can’t choose their favorite plants but learn to the enjoy and work with the shade lovers.”
Submitted by: Ruth Sloan
With thanks to Louise Shawkat for the suggestion
The garden that Jacob Gougé has created around the home he shares with his wife and daughter at 240 N. First St. reflects both his creativity and his respect for living things. It is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for August. Over the 17 years they have lived there, Gougé has salvaged and bartered the materials to create terracing in the back, define garden beds, build a fire pit, display interesting artifacts, and more on this small lot. It was bare dirt when they moved in. He is very resourceful.
But Jacob has a generous spirit as well that prompts him to offer lilacs to passersby, share cuttings of his many succulents with those who ask, and invite admiring strangers inside the gate to see the whole garden.
Along with two smaller lilacs elsewhere in front, there is a huge lilac bush in the northwest corner of the fenced area. Many of the branches of this lilac are five or more inches in diameter and have an unusual shredded bark. This lilac bush is strong enough to support one end of two hammocks!
There are extraordinary ceramic pieces throughout the property, most of them created by Gougé. He also pursues all manner of artistic expression via painting, sewing, beading,and other media. In addition, Jacob makes interesting planters for succulents out of stones or gnarled wood in which he drills holes to plant materials and for drainage.
Food crops are concentrated in the back yard, that Jacob calls his “in town farm.” This garden is 100% organic. He grows lettuce all year, protecting the yield from the blazing sun at this time of year with a colorful umbrella. He also grows asparagus, squash, carrots, snap peas, herbs of many varieties, and much more, often in recycled containers. He starts most plants from seeds in a hot box. The family has three healthy chickens that provide eggs as well as droppings for compost.
Much of the trip between Ashland and the Bay area via I-5 can be tedious, but now Ashland has its own novelty to rival the lineup of all those colorful tanker trucks at Truck City at the base of Black Butte near Weed, Moo Donna and Baby Moo as well as Priscilla the Dragon in fields south and north of Yreka. A wonderful, colorful sculpture by southern Oregon artist Cheryl Garcia has been installed on private land south of the freeway, just east of the Skylark complex, between exits 19 and 14. This whimsical installation of a giant (8’) red flower, with three bees hovering over it, is courtesy of Marge and Dave Bernard. The Bernards cannot see this sculpture from their nearby home, but they do have a smaller version (three red flowers, with one bee hovering) that is visible from their home. They chose simply to enliven the view for travelers along that stretch of highway; their good deed for passersby.
Dave Bernard commissioned the sculptures as a birthday gift for wife Marge who is a beekeeper. The installation was completed over Mother’s Day weekend. Cheryl Garcia’s work is well known in Ashland, not only for the enchanting metal flowers at Walker Elementary School but for other metal sculptures in private collections all over town. Garcia spent 200 hours creating this charming work. It is such a gift to the community and to travelers, for which Garcia and the Bernards are to be thanked.
Tika Squires says that “the garden is my child,” meaning that she had to persuade her husband to have professionals design and maintain it. The beautiful garden she shares with husband Chuck at 195 Van Ness St. is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for May. Tika says she is “a gardener in my imagination.” She clearly has a flair and style that is reflected in the house and garden.
The Squires purchased the property in 1999. The previous owner had developed a lovely garden, too, but it was labor-intensive. As part of the award-winning process of rebuilding the garage (with living-space over it) five years ago, they had Kerry KenCairn redesign the surrounding hardscape and garden to the left of the driveway. Installation, including the spectacular stone walls, was done by Solid Ground Landscape. Later, Solid Ground replanted the parking strip with drought-tolerant vegetation, adding to the double-blooming non-bearing cherry trees planted by the previous owner; rebuilt the front stairs and terrace; and changed the plantings in front of those stairs and terrace. Ultimately, Solid Ground also installed a graceful patio in back, edged by yews on one side and English laurel on the other to create a private retreat. The Squires always specified low-maintenance gardens and Tika says that the “only fussing we do in the garden is the fussing we choose to do.”
In front on the left, an almond tree was spared and a fig tree has been allowed to sprout. On the south side of the garage, an espaliered apple tree thrives. A heritage butterfly bush graces the south side of the house.
Among other notable plants on the property include Japanese maple, magnolia, red oak, euphorbia, camellia, flowering plum, barberry, iris, rosemary, lilac, lily of the valley, tulips, clematis, and honeysuckle. The overall effect is very inviting.