The gardens at Wild Rose Farm above Penn Cove include pavers, pathways and millstones, and have been a labor of love for more than a decade.
FROM ITS PERCH on a Whidbey Island hillside, Wild Rose Farm looks out over the wide, blue curve of Penn Cove. If that doesn’t sound romantic enough, the farm boasts 30 acres of gardens and open pastureland reached by a long, winding driveway lined with fruit trees. The pastures are dotted with heritage breeds of fluffy sheep, watched over by a vigilant guard llama.
The house on the property is rambling, added on to over the years. Ken and Nan Leaman raised their four children here, and now the kids are bringing the grandchildren back to visit. Nan is a fabric artist, and Ken a retired vet who practiced in the nearby historic town of Coupeville. The sheep, chickens and geese; the trees, vegetable garden and natural beauty of the place are a reflection of their lifelong interests and hard work.
The original garden was stuffed with trees and shrubs growing too close to the house, a chaos Nan describes as “higgledy-piggledy.” Eleven years ago, the couple hired Seattle landscape architect Keith Geller to sort it out, which he’s done piece by piece as time, energy and budget permitted. “Keith deleted what we didn’t need, and added structure to what was already here,” explains Nan of Geller’s continuing role in shaping the property’s pathways and plantings.
Geller removed old shrubbery and trees to open the place up to sunlight and views. Some mature trees were carefully preserved to form the backbone of the gardens, including firs, a parrotia, weeping Alaska cedar, katsuras and evergreen magnolia. He designed a series of gardens to…