November 29, 2007

Where in the world is Dan Hinkley?

To put it simply, Dan Hinkley can be described as a horticulturist extraordinaire.  I first met Dan many years ago when we began creating magazine stories together and we have become close friends.  At that time, he was running Heronswood, a most fabulous plant nursery that I just loved to visit.  Dan was passionate about plants at a very early age and it was that passion that propelled him through college and graduate school, earning degrees in ornamental horticulture and horticulture education.  He found work teaching about horticulture and also worked in private estate gardens.  But, Dan’s personal calling was to study and grow exotic plants and dreamed of having his own nursery one day.

When the time was right, Dan began to travel the world in search of rare plant species.  Those travels are better described as extremely thrilling escapades that have taken Dan up and down the highest mountain peaks and through the thickest forests and jungles, searching for just the right plant material.  He eventually built Heronswood along with his partner, architect Robert Jones, near Seattle, WA.  There he grew only those plants that held his interest.  Heronswood became very well known among serious plant collectors, including myself.  Unfortunately, that nursery was eventually sold and has since closed, however, Dan’s passion has not waned.  He keeps very busy writing amazing books and essays, lecturing to garden groups and schools, and makes frequent guest appearances on television shows like my own.  He also continues to traverse the globe and is presently in the mountains of Taiwan hoping to discover new species. You may read about his travels at


Despite Dan’s absence Robert was so kind to have us for a most delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  These photos were taken at their home, designed and built by Robert.  They call their home and its amazing gardens Windcliff, as it sits on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound.   

Kevin Sharkey in the Hinkley/Jones garden on Puget Sound

Here I am enjoying the autumn foliage in Dan’s garden

Dan mulches his gunnera plants with gunnera leaves.

Cotinus “gloria” , a magnificent smoke bush with giant leaves and vibrant color

Mt. Rainier is SO majestic. Robert and Dan designed the house and garden to take full advantage of the view.

A nest of bald headed eagles on the property

Cyclamen carpet in the garden

Brined, roasted turkey

Family recipe for a casserole of string beans

Here I am with Robert Jones in front of the succulent 22-pound organic turkey

Another Jones family favorite, cranberry Jell-O mold

A vegan salad for the vegetarians

Sweet potato marshmallow casserole - an American favorite

My daughter Alexis and one of the Jones nieces

The warm AGA stove was also the buffet, I kind of miss using my AGA

Beautiful furnishings, warm wood paneling and a spectacular antique glass chandelier make a special dining room

Alexis checking out the buffet

A portrait of the Jones family women, including myself

All shoes are left at the door “Japanese” style.
Beautiful carpets and floors are spared wear and tear - garden dirt and road silt are left at the door.