form and foliage

Year round garden interest with minimal care

Private Spaces: The Jordan Garden


foliage garden, evergreen shrubs, conifers

Ken and Elena Jordan’s garden in Roseburg, OR is one of the loveliest we’ve seen.

Visits to botanical gardens and nurseries allow us to revel in the scope and breadth of their plantings or to view imposing and impressive mature specimens.  Visits to such places can be educational and inspiring, but they can also be daunting, for few if any of us can hope to replicate their grandeur and scale.

conifers, American Conifer Society, pine trees

Ken and Elena show us around their garden.

That’s why we also like to visit private gardens, such as that of Ken and Elena Jordan in Roseburg, OR.  Their garden, while enormous and ambitious by most standards, is constructed on a more intimate scale, and demonstrates the owners’ personality and connection to their residence that is characteristic of the most successful private efforts.

conifers, foliage plants, evergreen shrubs

The Jordans use a mix of conifers, Japanese maples and other interesting foliage plants, and use different kinds of stone for accent.

The Jordans sited their house on a bluff overlooking the Umpqua River.  Ken designed and built the Craftsman style home himself, and the couple made their garden on the wooded slope facing away from the river, under the remnants of the native forest.

conifer garden, foliage garden, pine trees

A few old oaks provide a high canopy that shelters and shades the garden below.

The steeply sloping lot posed design and circulation challenges which the Jordans met by making switchbacked paths and stone retaining walls.  Native stone is also incorporated into the garden in the form of boulders and pathways.  Both Ken and Elena have design and horticultural talents, and a sense of humor that has caused them to name the property ‘Stonehedge’.

conifer garden, foliage garden, pine trees, evergreen shrubs

The Jordans use different kinds of stone to add interest, structure – and support! – to the garden.

The steep slope could prove tiring to navigate if it were not for the many seating opportunities along the paths.  Each spot provides a different aspect, with different vistas and plants to enjoy.  Ken’s mastery of both the wood shop and the forge are evident everywhere.

Ken designed and built this structure - the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view and the plantings.

Ken designed and built this structure – the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view and the plantings.

Despite the structures, stone and art, in this garden the plants rule.  The Jordans were bitten early on by the conifer bug and with encouragement from Larry Stanley of Stanley & Sons Nursery, made their garden around their large conifer collection.  They are active members of the American Conifer Society and travel all over the world to view–and acquire–choice specimens.

foliage gardens, evergreen border, American Conifer Society

A weeping pine (Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’) frames this grouping of conifers, grasses and Japanese maples.

Although the Jordans like all manner of conifers (and many foliage plants such as Japanese maples), their property really showcases the large, contorted cultivars such as Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’ and Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ and they have several choice specimens of each.

conifers, foliage garden, blue foliage, blue needles

Weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’) has room to show itself off.

The contorted trunks of the weeping specimens are beautiful in their own right, and provide ‘small moments’ to enjoy that balance the scale of the sweeping beds and pathways.

pine trees, conifers

The trunk of Pinus densiflora ‘Pendula’ – weeping Japanese red pine – is textural and sinuous.

As much as they love conifers, both Ken and Elena know that good design requires contrasting colors, textures and forms, and have interplanted the conifers liberally with deciduous trees such as Japanese maples and beech.  Fall is a particularly beautiful time in this garden as the fiery colors of the maples are dramatically set off by the greens and blues of the conifers.

conifers, foliage garden, evergreen border

Japanese maples, an ornamental cherry and a European beech add diversity and interest.

Autumn’s low sun shines through the maples and casts a glow over the entire garden, lighting the chartreuse, green, blue and teal conifers.

conifer gardens, foliage gardens, mixed foliage

The setting sun catches the autumn leaves of a Japanese maple.

In fact, that sunset drew us right up the slope and around to the back of the house, where we turned from looking at the beauty that the Jordans had created to enjoying the natural view over the river. What a paradise Ken and Elena found when they chose this spot, and what a masterpiece they have created! We look forward to visiting again soon.

Japanese maples, conifers, fall foliage

The view from the Jordan’s back porch over the Umpqua River.

19 thoughts on “Private Spaces: The Jordan Garden

  1. Hello, I absolutely love your site and refer back to various posts and pictures often — as well as gush on to friends about how wonderful your photos are! I’ve only read through quickly so far today but thought to myself that it would be nice some time to know roughly the age of some of the highlighted specimens to get an idea of how long they’ve been in the landscape. For example, just knowing how old the Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’ has been in the ground in that location would be very interesting — especially since many varieties don’t produce bark like that for many years, yet others do. I’m just learning!

    Also, that last photo from the back porch looks stunning, like a painting. I’m curious if Janice does any post-processing on her photos, for either color, or in this photo’s case, for color. Just gorgeous!

    Thanks so much for all that you share.

    • Oops! Meant to say “for either sharpness, or in this photo’s case, for color.” Thanks. 🙂

      • Dawn,

        Thanks for the comments on the photos! I attempt to “get things right in the camera” initially. But, I do post-processing on all my images, starting with Lightroom (Adobe)…primarily contrast, brightness…sometimes white balance…”digital darkroom” things to take what is in the camera and match it as closely as possible to what I saw. Some take almost no tweaking; others take a lot more, depending on what I’m trying to do. I also like some of the great Topaz and Nik plugins for Lightroom/Photoshop CS6. In the case of the back porch “aerial” landscape at the Jordan’s, I used HDR (high dynamic range). I took three exposures (which my camera, a Canon 5D MII, will do automatically for me), bracketed to capture the details in the highlights, the details in the shadows and (hopefully) everything in between. (For even more demanding scenes, it can be necessary to take more than 3 exposures, which one can do manually of course.) I used, in this case, HDREfex Pro (Nik Software), to merge and process the images into the one you see. (Photomatix also makes a great plugin for this.) If you’re not familiar with HDR, it has revolutionized landscape photography….and you can create not only realistic scenes but there’s almost unlimited artistic range in it.

    • Dawn – as you may have seen in Ken Jordan’s comment, it is actually a Pinus densiflora ‘Pendula’ – I goofed – and that bark is characteristic of the species. He estimates the age of the tree at about 15 years old.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. WOW,

    — Sent from Mailbox for iPad

    On Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 4:42 PM, form and foliage

  3. Sara’,

    You and Jan have done it again, another home run! Such beautiful pictures, such wonderful writing, how I look forward to your posts, and this one especially, of course. Who would have thought that an investment banker could turn out so well. Perhaps there is hope for America! Your kind words about our garden express so well the things we have tried to do and showcase so well the parts that we love, especially the conifers. As always, Jan’s photography captures in exquisite detail the beauty of the plants and the setting (should I say, the form and foliage?). How well I remember your arrival at our home. It took Elena and I thirty or forty seconds before we were completely captivated by the two of you (our dog not so long, but then, he’s more astute than we are), and that’s before the fun began. Jan was snapping pictures almost as soon as she got out of the car and never looks quite right unless her camera is up to her face. In those days, Jan wasn’t really interested in conifers, boy, has that changed! Someone (nameless here, forevermore) has dubbed you two “The Neon Twins, an entirely appropriate description. We, too, look forward to you visiting again. Who wouldn’t want Sara and Jan to come to their garden.

    In response to DawnT’s comment, our interest in gardening took off in 2002 (after we met Larry Stanley and joined the Conifer Society). The plant she is referring to is actually a Pinus densiflora ‘Pendula’, a Japanese red pine. That beautiful bark is characteristic of the species. I suppose that plant was five or six years old when we acquired it, so maybe fifteen years old now. Because of its weeping habit, we think it should be staked up and any chance we have we try to show off interesting bark (Sara’s Trunk Show).

    I can’t wait for the next post, perhaps it will be about the Neon Twins wildly bidding at the latest Conifer Society event.

    • Ken we are so pleased that you and Elena like the post. And we like to think that if Augie could see it, that he would like it also! Of course it’s a densiflora – and thanks for the info on the age. Your garden is truly an inspiration and we’re glad to be able to be part of inspiring others!
      Sara and Jan the Neon Twins

  4. That is a stunning garden. And it all seems to be accomplished through the use of shrubs and trees rather than flowering perennials. Gotta love all that great foliage!

  5. thank you for showcasing this amazing garden, it really demonstrates that flowers are only an added extra to a garden and that foliage is EVERYTHING!

  6. It’s an inspiration to see what someone can create and build. Thanks for showcasing this amazing garden!

  7. Ken and Elana’s property in Roseberg, Oregon is truly breath taking. My husband and I were fortunate to have visited as part of an ACS tour a few years ago. There is so much to “take in” around every corner, every level and along every walkway in their garden. Oh, how I would love to return to see the changes, especially the new seating area. Ken, do I detect a reversion in the Picea along the path on the right in the fourth photo from the top? So unique. Thanks
    Sara and Jan for this beautiful post not to mention all of your other similar posts but I really appreciated seeing Ken and Elana’s garden again.

    • Ruth thanks for your nice comments and we’ll pass them along to Ken and Elena as well. Regarding the possible reversion, that looks to us like the top of a Picea orientalis immediately in front of the globose plant. If you look carefully you can see that it is connected to the plant in the foreground.
      Jan and Sara

  8. The garden is absolutely amazing; the photos are a wealth of inspirational ideas, thank you for the walk through the garden such thorough detailed information.

  9. Such a beautiful and inspirational garden and the photos bring us right in!

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