A visit to Sea Cliff Gardens B&B in Port Angeles, Wash., is literally like stepping into a painting. Strolling through the grounds among lush evergreens and rolling lawns, you’ll follow a flagstone walkway through a shaded woodland garden carpeted with primrose, hostas, hellebores, wood poppies and sweet alyssum. A waterfront rose garden with pink Adirondack benches overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca, toward the shores of Victoria, British Columbia. Over 100 blooming rhododendrons dazzle between March and June. Take a stroll and hear about owner Bonnie Kuchler’s labor of love and how she tamed an English garden gone wild.
GD: What gardening experience did you have before embarking on this project?
Kuchler: Oh, was I supposed to have experience? I didn’t know the difference between an annual and a perennial, because tropical plants grow every day of the year in Hawaii. I had no idea I shouldn’t prune a plant whenever I wanted to; in Hawaii it didn’t matter whether I cut back my roses in January or July. So I had a lot to learn, and quickly. I hired a fabulously patient master gardener to train me those first couple of years. She still comes around to visit. We stroll through the garden and she stops and points, “Bonnie, that’s a weed.” Of course she’s talking about the plant I’ve carefully nurtured and mulched.