Arriving at Digging Dog is not a particularly easy feat, but it is spectacularly beautiful. One must first wend ones way through the Anderson Valley, home to many old wonderful wineries, followed by a slow snaking through an ancient sacred redwood forest, eventually coming along an old ever-widening river that leads one to a breathtaking emerging at ocean’s end. And now one must retrace back through a pygmy forest, arriving at a dirt road, back into the forest that is home to Digging Dog Nursery, one of America’s famed Destination Nurseries. My first visit was over a dozen years ago, spurred by one of my dearest friends, Marsha Mello, illustrator extraordinaire, and designer of Digging Dog’s logo and beautiful and unique catalogues.
So it was with great delight that I received a nursery gift certificate from Marsha, creating a wonderful excuse to drive out to a recent open house at Digging Dog to select from their vast and exquisite selections. More importantly, I knew I was in for an unparalleled visual treat, and I, and my friend, Eta, whom I invited along, were not disappointed.
Anticipation heightened simply arriving at the gate where Marsha’s whimsical imagery greeted me, making me smile.
Adding to our delight was a small (ironic) sign on the adjacent gate saying, “No dogs, please.”
Stepping inside the world that is Digging Dog we were immediately made to feel welcome by the lovely setting awaiting visitors, which included plates of homemade cookies, and yes, I helped myself! Delicious!
Visitors were given clipboards and carts, and were invited to browse among the vast array of unusual plants spread out on tarps, and under canopies. I found myself caught between the desire to select plants I would be bringing home to add to my own garden and an even greater desire to simply soak up the beauty that is Digging Dog. I managed to do both. Entering the grounds I was greeted by this inviting display.
Where to start? Where to start? Honestly? I could not in that moment even think of selecting and acquiring plants. I’d been there before and I had a sense of what awaited me, just up those stairs at the top of the page, through that entry, which is a round opening in a very tall beech hedge. And I’m going to take you with me where you will undoubtedly agree. Ready? Breathe…
Yes, it’s a lush as it appears. Once transported into that magic that is the creation of landscape designer Gary Ratway, there is scarce chance of turning back. One wants to linger, to enjoy, to soak up, to merge with the incredible beauty he has committed to creating. A true heaven on Earth.
Enjoy this bird’s eye view of the enchanting top of the pink bench awaiting you at that end:
This green stretch of pristine lawn stretches a good city block. Lining the sides one is treated to an endless array of gorgeous well-cared for perennials and bushes, lovingly and artfully juxtaposed, each section more breathtaking than the last. I will leave the naming to you, my darlings. I was there just for the experience itself.
Opposite end holds a second lovely ceramic chair, enfolded magically with darker wings.
Just as I thought my senses were saturated with the beauty, I stepped down out of this secluded spot, and was overwhelmed with the full realization that the entire 10-foot high beech hedge is flanked on the outside thusly:
As a gardener one cannot help but begin to think of the man hours it must take to create and maintain such splendor!
As the scope of this creation begins to fully envelope one, all sorts of imaginings are stirred in the soul, I do declare. How many of us have such a vision? What are the possibilities to co-create with plants, should we opt for such a luxury?
One thing is certain. Digging Dog undoubtedly stands tall next to many famed European gardens, and it is easy to understand why it was featured in Martha Stewart Living!
Pulling myself at last to my second task, I select the following lovelies to grace my garden. Lucky me. The pink and purple penstemons and red and yellow yarrows are familiar. The rest are a beauteous blur. Who cares?
As I am moving towards the exit I hear a worker calling out, and smile as I realize why other dogs were discouraged this day. It was Neptune, one of several Digging Dog resident canines, sneaking a peek at the day’s visitors. Hello, Neptune, you good boy, you!
Just then my lovely friend Eta appears with a special treasure to take to her own garden in Marin. It is a pink lupine, yes.
We are graciously greeted by horticulturist Deborah Whigham, co-founder and co-owner of Digging Dog Nursery, of which she can be extremely proud.
I do hope you find yourselves at her door some soft and gentle day.
Love and gardening blessings,
Posted on July 23rd, 2008 by Kathryn
Filed under: Field Trips