Originally uploaded by LoneSomeVille My latest column is out on the streets with this edition of Just Out. I'm cross posting it here, as well. Always a pleasure to visit with my wonderful friends at LoneSomeVille, and even moreso to write about it and share them with others.
Far From Lonely: Finding Beauty at LoneSomeVilleNestled on a dead-end street in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood exists a special place of romance, beauty and escape. A lovingly restored 19th-century Queen Anne – along with its original outbuildings, consisting of a foundry and pump house – is engulfed in an abundant, classic cottage garden.
The foundry doors open to the garden, 1930s-era music floats into the air and among the lilies, roses and vintage flowers. “I have a deep faith in ‘grandma taste’ and a strong old-lady aesthetic,” says Danny Hills. LoneSomeVille is inhabited by craftsmen Hills, Wayne Hughes and Todd McCormack, who run LoneSomeVille Pottery and, along with dogs Daisy, Oscar and Minnie, call this oasis home.
Eclectic, old-fashioned, sentimental and serviceable are how they describe their gardens, but it’s the deep love of place that’s apparent. “There wasn’t really a place in society for us, so we made our own,” Hughes says.
The inspiration at LoneSomeVille? Two cultural icons of the 1930s, actors Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. “These two people have had a deep effect on our garden. Their movies are beautiful and romantic,” Hughes says. Hills adds that the ‘37 MacDonald-Eddy vehicle Maytime is “romantically over-the-top and just wonderful. If you don’t cry, you have no heart.”
The garden inspires the art and the art inspires the garden. Their pottery studio uses the same time-honored techniques employed in the great houses of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Roseville and McCoy. Their vases and pottery are carried at Rejuvenation in Portland and Bend Bungalow in Bend, along with the deYoung Museum and The Gamble House in California.
“If you create a beautiful, serene environment that can reduce the noise of the world around you, they feed each other,” Hills says. “We have this ability to make beautiful environments that bring peace to our lives, and I think gay people, especially, try to make places to escape and be safe.”
Gardening at LoneSomeVille is not a chore, but a release, a need and a balance. It’s also a very private place that opens its gates only once a year. LoneSomeVille’s upcoming open garden and pottery sale gives the public an opportunity to tour the gardens and studio firsthand. But most importantly, listen when you visit…to the period music, to the birds, and perhaps you’ll hear something else. “The house sings to you,” Hughes explains. “I will never leave this house.”
After visiting LoneSomeVille, I know why. It’s pure magic.
Quintessential Plants of LoneSomeVille
Lilies The old fashioned, 3-4 foot tall and extra cold-hardy “Martagon”
Peonies Single-form, woodland Japanese peony Paeonia japonica “Stonegate”
Dame’s Rocket Hesperis matronalis also goes by Sweet Rocket, a classic cottage garden short-lived perennial
Roses Hybrid musk “Erfurt,” shrub roses ‘Sally Holmes,” climbing roses “MME Alfred Carriére,” “Autumn Sunset”
Clematis Summer-blooming “H.F. Young,” single bell-shaped bloomers Clematis alpina (Hills says, “They’re perfect for wrapping or giving little shawls to your trees.”)