danko2My Neighbor’s Garden, March 2014 – by Kay Faught, Blue Door Garden Store

This month, I was amazed and delighted by a treasure of a garden that exceeded my expectations. Ron and Aurelie Danko, on South Oregon Street, have a small and unique wedge-shaped lot, on which they built their home with a Tuscan mustard-colored stucco retaining wall surrounding it. When the opportunity arose to buy the wedge lot behind them, more planting opportunities abounded! Along with the neighboring lot line, their own lot layout, their meandering paths and gates, they now have an almost European village surrounding them. They even have a neighbors’ goose that often visits their patio to “chat.” It’s an added charm they love.

Their home and lot have a narrow patio area, all behind the stucco wall that surrounds the house, sheltering it all. In front, outside the wall, grasses, trees and wild poppies adorn, while behind, large potted maples and roses create a patio world all its own. Trees abound and the result is shelter, color, privacy, and foliage that go with them. After planting some 100 grasses in the outside area of the wall, (which Ron now spends hours trimming), the back hillside became the focus. Adrift and full, Oregon grape, rosemary, vinca, “happy chappy” roses, (which they both love!) and trees create the woodsy affect they enjoy. The back stucco wall along the patio opens to a cut-away rock step path, leading up the hillside to a garden, and to a black iron “neighbor gate.” The surprise at the top of the hillside, a “man house,” was originally intended as a garden shed but now is a hideaway tucked next to their fenced garden, where 9 semi-dwarf fruit trees call home. It’s all very fun and friendly!

Ron and Aurelie have a perfect garden balance. After years of tending to 10 acres or better, Ron loves “bigger” places and loves to be outside anytime…although 6-9am is his favorite gardening time. He loves to plant trees to his heart’s content, and actually anything, as long as he can “plant!” Aurelie loves to be outside in spring and summer, “when the terrace gets going and I can enjoy what the garden attracts… birds, bugs… little things, and the details.” She adds, “I’m just content and love to let my thoughts wander when I’m out there.” She also loves to weed, which Ron happily gives over to her, and to be on her patios and work with the small beds, such as the driveway strip now adorned with heathers and rock work, or the outside lavender hills. Ron is obviously a busy gardener, but he loves gardening because “there is no better way to pass time… it’s so peaceful and tranquil!”

danko3Every (emphasize EVERY) window in their home has a view of the patio, back beds, or a part of the garden! Surrounded by nature and the effect they wanted, it is refreshing and relaxing, even on this dreary rainy winter day, taking you away to Provence or a European village! Aurelie mentioned how she loves that there are so many different places to sit! At the tip of their lot, the stucco wall reaches out around their “peninsula” patio. In the middle, an oak tree left in place, is surrounded by a patio, while a 4 trunk red madrone holds on to the hillside, bending color and structure over the patio.

Ron has no idea how many trees he has planted, but agreed that with all the maples, firs, cedars, and others, he wanted to pass on a tip to “be aware of how fast trees can grow and how close they can become!” Aurelie added her own fun tip… she LOVES having her herb barrels outside her kitchen door so she can just step out and snip what she needs anytime. Such simple pleasures!

My time at the Danko garden was wonderful. I truly enjoyed viewing their lovely gardens tucked into a secluded, woodsy hillside.

Kay Faught is the owner of Blue Door Garden Store, located at 155 N Third Street. Specializing in paraphernalia for the home gardener, she carries garden gifts, decor, and a wide variety of pots, tools, gloves, and organic product.

Posted February 28, 2014