lessons learned in making a garden: ‘windcliff,’ with dan hinkley

lessons learned in making a garden: ‘windcliff,’ with dan hinkley

Dan Hinkley has another treat for us all in the form of his new book called “Windcliff,” the story of the garden he has been making since leaving Heronswood, and where he now lives on Puget Sound in Washington. “A Story of People, Plants and Gardens” is the subheading the book, and it is rich with tales of all of the above that have influenced the making of the place.

Learn about Dan’s insights into garden design—from avoiding beds of plants that are “as flat as a flounder” to why to start with smaller plants than ones that fill the whole space right away.

Dan will be giving various virtual talks to celebrate the new book; more on those below, too. Plus, enter to win a copy in the comments box at the very bottom of the page.

Read along as you listen to the September 14, 2020 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).


Margaret: Hello there, and I’m sorry I keep writing to you about the plastic labels. [Laughter.]

Dan: Hello, Margaret. And they weren’t that tiny of a plant, they were really robust, no they’re just huge, so thank you for that nice introduction. It’s nice to talk to you, as always.

Margaret: Yeah, last time we talked, we talked for the “New York Times” thing about hydrangeas. Hy-DRAHN-juhs, as you would say.

Dan: Hydrangeas, yes.

Margaret: And before we get started, you have a virtual event coming up. September 30th. Is that right? September 30th?

Dan: Yeah, that’s right. It’s a joint endeavor between Heronswood and Northwest Horticultural Society. So you could go to heronswoodgarden.org or, the Northwest Horticultural Society, to get information. That will entail my talk on the development of Windcliff, and you also get a book sent to you in the process of signing up. So yeah, it’s a good way to support both Heronswood, as well as the greater horticultural community of the Puget Sound area by joining in.

dan hinkley’s upcoming virtual events

TO CELEBRATE his new book “Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants and Gardens” (affiliate link) Dan Hinkley has several virtual lectures coming up:

Margaret: A very rich horticultural area in our country. And Heronswood is now a public garden—your former home and nursery is now a public garden and people can, as you said, at heronswoodgarden.org.

There’s so much in this book, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s a whole big story, and it sort of starts at Heronswood because you learned so many lessons there. We should tell people who don’t know, you have traveled the world searching for new and unusual plants and so forth. You’re a plant explorer, part of your life has been that.

So it’s got a lot in it, this book, but especially in the beginning, you start with a design chapter, and I wanted to talk about some of the tips in there because besides making me laugh a lot, some of them, the way you state them, because your writing is quite funny and dry sometimes, but you’ve learned a lot and you’ve applied it to this new place. So first give us the backdrop. How long ago did you come to this new place and the transition and so forth that you brought with you to this new palette?

J.C. Raulston, for example, I think the chapter begins with him. Just a little quick…

J.C. Raulston Arboretum now in Raleigh. He died much, much too young in life, early 50s in a car accident. But interestingly enough, Tony Avent, who’s a disciple of J.C., is here in the garden today at Heronswood.

Margaret. No! Oh! [Laughter.]

Dan: He wanted to extend his big hello to you.

Margaret: The first time I went to that arboretum years and years and years ago, when J.C. was there, it was the first time I ever met the genus Cephalotaxus, the plum yews. And he had a collection of them, and some were tall and columnar and some were lower. And I kind of got what you just said—the breadth, that he wanted us to see the breadth even within one genus. So yes.

So we just have a minute left, barely a minute, and I just want to remind people, not just about the book, but you’re going to be doing this live event on the 30th, that they can… I don’t know if there’s a recording then afterward that they can also re-listen to, but we’ll find-

Dan: Yes, they can. So they sign up and then-

Margaret: So that’s great, so if it’s not a good time for them, they can-

Dan: Then they can watch it, I think for two weeks or something like that.

Margaret: Fantastic, fantastic. So you’re going to go out and hang out with Tony and spend a wonderful day, and I’m jealous [laughter], in your beautiful garden.

Dan: Well, you know what Margaret, interestingly enough, there’s a lots of plants at Heronswood that bring you into focus as well, from conversations we’ve had in the past or plants that we’ve admired together. So that’s really one of the most extraordinary thing about gardening is that your friends can come alive, and you do oftentimes at Heronswood.

Margaret: Thank you. Thank you. And I hope I’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks Dan, for making time.

dan hinkley’s upcoming virtual events

TO CELEBRATE his new book “Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants and Gardens” (affiliate link) Dan Hinkley has several virtual lectures coming up:

(Photos from the book of the garden at Windcliff are by Claire Takacs, used with permission.)

enter to win the book ‘windcliff’

“Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants and Gardens,” by Dan Hinkley, for one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments box at the very bottom of the page:

Is there a design insight, a lesson, that you are working on applying at your place right now–the way Dan talked about avoiding “flat as a flounder” plantings and his other ahas?

No answer, or feeling shy? Just say something like “count me in” and I will, but a reply is even better. I’ll pick a random winner after entries close at midnight Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Good luck to all.

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

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