Gardens as Solace and Refuge

Stroll garden
Our stroll garden is an inspiring place for a walking meditation.

Most gardeners have an emotional attachment to their gardens. I certainly do. And who of us has not used their garden, during a difficult time, as a place to think-or maybe not think and make all thoughts disappear into weeding, raking or planting?

Rake at the ready
Rake at the ready as more plants get their annual spring chop.

The virus, COVID-19, has coincided with some dire circumstances in my immediate family, but even if it were just the virus, it’s enough for me to focus more time at home and in my garden. I’m lucky I have a garden in which to immerse myself now and a pet who enjoys meandering through it with me. Many of you reading this do, too. 

Oscar, our puppy cat
Oscar, our faithful puppy cat, loves to walk through our garden with me.

Some hospitals have ‘healing gardens’. I have never figured out why they are uniquely healing, as I believe that just about any garden can have that effect. But, on the rare occasion I’m in a hospital, I will visit them to become soothed.

The Chelsea Physic Garden
While the Chelsea Physic Garden, in London, England, is not within the confines of a hospital, it is a treasure to meander through and learn more about healing plants.

People without a garden may want to visit natural spaces, maintaining precautions as needed during this period of ‘social distancing’.

Egret and blue Heron at our local pond
The egret and the heron have not heard of ‘social distancing’ as they are clearly not practicing it. But what a delight to visitors to see them together!

However you connect with Nature, it is there for us during difficult times to make us whole, however that may be defined for each individual.

Pond Turtles
Turtles on a platform getting a good dose of sun while they can in late winter.

If you don’t have a garden, now is a good time to create one. Then you can apply the recent advice of my friend, Naomi Brooks: “Weed when you need to think, no pruning when you’re angry, and edge to recapture a sense of control.” Something tells me I have a lot of edging in my near future.

Neighbor's borrowed view
A borrowed view to our neighbor’s flowering tree is a welcome sight during a pause in edging a border..
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IT’S TIME TO CUT BACK

My cutting back period is typically Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day and this week I chose to cut back lavender, my bird topiary, and a bunch of grasses, so I can prepare for planting.

Before lavender is cut back

Lavender is one of those evergreen woody ‘perennials’ that needs to be cut back hard every year to regenerate the plant-right down to new growth closest to the center of the plant. Otherwise lavender turns into a twisted mess of wood in about 5 years and you have to replace it.

After being cut back-and even then maybe it could be cut back more sharply.

I trimmed the bird topiary lightly and then took a photo to study its shape. Note my red lines which are the guide for its final trim.

Red lines help guide how I’d like to improve its shape.

Even dried grasses have a wintry presence. Wait until late winter to cut back.

Big, bold grasses add structure even during the winter.
Smaller grasses add texture and increase the definition of evergreen shrubs.

When I trim grasses, I do so knowing the trimmings will be chopped and used as mulch, not taken away to become compost elsewhere.

Plenty of grasses mean plenty of mulch for plants that need protection from evaporation during hotter days.
One last thing to remember, there’s a different technique for cutting back herbaceous grasses from evergreen grasses. On the left is Japanese Blood Grass (and prefers moist soil). It turns brown in winter. Cut it back to about 3″. On the right is Sesleria autumnalis (which tolerates drier soil). It is evergreen but has some die-back which makes it unattractive. Cut it back to 6″. Don’t cut it too short or it can die from crown rot.
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Found: Missing Blogger

Found in Scotland at the Outlander Lallybrock site. September 2018.

It has been years since I have written a blog post. I stopped when I was discouraged by my software computer issues and I was too busy with work. So I never quite got back to it. I spent the time I did have on shorter posts on Facebook which has taught me some lessons. One in particular is to limit the focus and keep it short if you want more readers. Recently I decided to hire some help. Enter stage right: Susan Langenes. So expect a more updated look very soon as we work out issues.

My blog will continue to focus on garden design and gardening through the lens of a garden designer and long-term gardener. Mind you, I am not a horticulturist, so don’t expect me to know every species and cultivar of Arctostaphylos. But I will write about what’s happening in my garden, particularly with respect to why I’m making changes or creating something new. Don’t gardens deserve to remain fresh and relevant while they still remain true to their sense of place? I will also write about gardens I create for others, gardens I visit, garden shows, and new garden books. And I will keep posts brief so it takes you less than 5 minutes to read them. Like this one.

So stay tuned.

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Opening My Garden

Near the house, our fire-pit area has plenty of seats and a red umbrella for a little shade in the hottest part of the day.
Near the house, our fire-pit area has plenty of seats and a red umbrella for a little shade in the hottest part of the day.

Belonging to a gardening group such as the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon offers an opportunity to share your garden with other members. Each year the HPSO committee creates a booklet containing a list of gardeners willing to open and share their gardens from late spring to early fall for that year. Gardeners must make their decision in January, allowing the committee adequate time to create the booklet.

A swath of blue oat grass surrounds an ornamental pot with some attention getting succulents.
A swath of blue oat grass surrounds an ornamental pot with some attention getting succulents.

This year I decided to open my garden since I hadn’t done so for the HPSO in several years. In January, all things seem possible. The reality is that it always comes down to the wire with doing the best you can manage with whatever Mother Nature and life has dealt you during the intervening period. So plans to remodel and paint both pergola and patio fence, relocate the blueberries to the crop circle to create a bocce court, and sand & paint the decks succumbed to being too busy with garden design clients. Removing two of the three overgrown (and invasive) English laurels left a large space on which to spend the limited resources of time and money. Many garden areas simply needed an infusion of a few plant replacements: either new or relocated. Some areas just needed to be ripped out and re-done. Plants needed to move to new areas to be more successful. I’m not telling gardeners anything they don’t already know. This is the life of a gardener.

 

Attending an open garden often creates expectations that the garden must be in a perfect state. In a small garden, that is more likely the possibility, as the amount of required resources isn’t as demanding. However, in a large garden, such as mine, resources required to do everything one wants to do can leave one in a pauper’s state. And with our numerous mature Douglas firs, the fir debris alone is a constant maintenance issue. I also believe that gardeners should not be intimidated by these expectations because seeing a portion or two of a garden in an unfinished state offers opportunities for learning that might not otherwise be visible. This would not be the case for a show garden or a garden where people are being charged to enter (necessarily), but for a garden club where members share their gardens, this practice should be more common. I have visited some public gardens when only the irrigation system was visible at the end of February. However, I saw volunteers pruning, preparing soil, and was able to analyze the irrigation layout. Very educational!

At our patio, a copper-finished set of steel screens with Japanese family crests keeps the mood Asian in a refreshing way.
At our patio, a copper-finished set of steel screens with Japanese family crests keeps the mood Asian in a refreshing way.

On the adjacent deck are comfortable rattan red-orange chairs with a gurgling pot nearby.
On the adjacent deck are comfortable rattan red-orange chairs with a gurgling pot nearby.

Heleniums were at their peak near our Thai spirit house...where good spirits greet garden visitors.
Heleniums were at their peak near our Thai spirit house…where good spirits greet garden visitors.

The large grass circle in the foreground generated a lot of discussion around sustainable turf grass and what is considered desirable aesthetically.
The large grass circle in the foreground generated a lot of discussion around sustainable turf grass and what is considered desirable aesthetically.

The day my garden was open (several weeks ago on a perfect August day) I had roughly 50 people visit, which kept me on my feet talking with other gardeners for the full 5 hours. Many plant questions were answered, gardening advice was shared, lemonade and gingersnaps were dispensed, and everyone had a delightful time. Enjoy the photos from the day!

No garden is complete without a little sense of humor. A few of my commonly used tools...to protect 'in case of dragons'.
No garden is complete without a little sense of humor. A few of my commonly used tools…to protect ‘in case of dragons’.

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My Arms Look Like Hoses

Rosa 'Paprika' loves it dry.
Rosa ‘Paprika’ loves it dry.

About this time of the summer, as wave after wave of heat descends on the Pacific Northwest, I find I spend an inordinate amount of time at the end of a hose. So much so that I begin to feel that in lieu of arms, I have hoses. This year has been worse than most because I decided to turn off the irrigation system and water by hand.

Purposely not using the irrigation system may seem foolish, but much of the system needs to be revised and repaired. Rather than waste water shooting in the wrong direction, I’ve opted into the more time consuming method until we can make repairs in early spring.

Feathery flowers of Stipa gigantea
Feathery flowers of Stipa gigantea

Epiblobum (aka Zaushneria) will bloom until Thanksgiving without a hard frost. Hummers LOVE it!
Epiblobum (aka Zaushneria) will bloom until Thanksgiving without a hard frost. Hummers LOVE it!

What I’ve discovered is many plants didn’t need the amount of irrigation I had programmed. Often I was over watering an entire zone for the sake of one plant (i.e. Astilbe or similar thirsty plants). The entire driveway garden has not had any additional water this year other than the two cloud bursts associated with infrequent thunderstorms. The only plant that has suffered so far is a daylily up near the top whose roots mingle with a Douglas fir tree. I’ve decided that I will move that daylily to an area where it is not as dry and allow more Euphorbia characias wulfenii to seed in there, with perhaps some red-orange Kniphofia. These are two plants already in the bed that are doing well. Also included in the mix are Stipa gigantea, Eryngium giganteum (although I’m considering its purge due to its slutty ways…it is also known as ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’), masses of orange lilies, carpet rose ‘Paprika’, purple asters, Blue Star junipers, Coppertina ninebark, Berberis ‘Sunjoy Gold Pillar’, Epilobum (Zauschneria), 3-Yucca ‘Color Guard’ in red-orange pots and a newly planted  Callistemon. The border is about 5’ deep at the top, tapering to 2’ deep about 75’ down the driveway. Then is widens again as it gets beyond the property line row of arborvitae that my husband planted when we first moved here 24 years ago.

So while the rest of my garden gets pampered with additional water, this is one area that gets very little and still thrives.

Yucca 'Color Guard' sits in 3 pots that act like exclamation marks along the border. Note the orange (glass) flower...so unusual for a Yucca...wink, wink.
Yucca ‘Color Guard’ sits in 3 pots that act like exclamation marks along the border. Note the orange (glass) flower…so unusual for a Yucca…wink, wink.

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BEING Outdoors

Outdoor dining at winery and fabulous garden of Chateau do Val Joanis
Outdoor dining at winery and fabulous garden of Chateau do Val Joanis

Whenever I see yet another article on outdoor living, my mind wanders back to the week I spent in Provence during June 2004 with my daughter. We did everything except sleep, shower and pee outdoors. With our window wide open at night, we heard a musical spill of water from a very close canal, so even sleeping felt like we were outdoors. It was magical.

The cottage where we slept, right outside the gravel terrace where we always breakfasted in Eygalières, France.
The cottage where we slept, right outside the gravel terrace where we always breakfasted in Eygalières, France.

This experience taught me the importance of BEING outdoors to the greatest extent possible.  Connecting with nature makes us more sensitive to how we fit in on this planet plus it improves so much about who we are as individual human beings. Do I have scientific proof of this? Can we measure IT? If so, what do we measure? Do we take exit surveys when we leave a garden? How satisfying was our experience on a scale of from one to ten?

Satisfaction at seeing Jardin de l'Alchimiste was very high indeed!
Satisfaction at seeing Jardin de l’Alchimiste was very high indeed!

I have had a few clients (very few) that have aversions to being in some outdoor spaces because they have a fear of bugs, especially spiders. Fear is something to overcome, not used as an excuse to limit our experiences. Nature is a place to engage with life. I feel blessed to have a large garden in which to wander and a wild ravine to observe from inside and outside. During the summer when we can have morning tea, dinner in the evening, or even a brief lunch midday as a work break on our patio, it calms my state of being. It limits the adrenaline rush on those hectic days with a deadline to meet. (Maybe we can measure adrenaline levels?)

All I can say is use whatever space you have available to embrace nature. Create spaces to sit, lie down, dine, play, workout, and even take a shower in your yard. Create a garden that entices you to be outside…even in the winter…to investigate what’s new and pique your curiosity. It can take you back to one magical outdoor experience and also create new ones.

Our typical breakfast still brings back vivid memories. C'est magnifique!
Our typical breakfast still brings back vivid memories. C’est magnifique!

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Serendipitous Spring

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  While I can’t wait for my garden to wake up in spring, I find myself wishing that it would slow down so I can keep up with the work out there. So much happening!

After a hard winter  I am browsing the garden for dead plants. What I’ve discovered after many years though, is that looking for dead plants in March is much too soon. I usually give plants at least through May to recover. Here we are in the first half of April and this is what I am discovering.

One of the plants I’ve been keeping a close eye on (because I planted quite a few of them) is Disporum ‘Green Giant’. They were all knocked back to the ground this winter, despite their ‘evergreen’ claim. It is also supposed to be a zone 7 plant, so I have faith that I will see little nubs sometime soon, especially because the nights have warmed to a minimum of above 40 degrees. The plant is supposed to be 6 feet tall, so if they don’t come back I’ll have to get replacements. I use them to disguise fencing and create a visual barrier from one garden area to another.

A slim reminder of the dormant plant that lies underground.
A slim reminder of the dormant plant that lies underground.

 Another great plant that could be used in a similar fashion is Eucryphia milliganii. I planted this about 10 years ago, so it’s had plenty of time to get its roots established. I read that it is a zone 8 plant, so I protected it this winter. I’ve since found out from reliable resource, Paul Bonine (one of the owners of Xera Plants, Inc.), that it is a zone 7 plant. There are little green smidgeons of new growth on it so I know it has survived successfully. This is supposed to be a dwarf Eucryphia growing to about 4-5 ft. So far it has stayed within those bounds, but I thought it might also have something to do with having been in too much shade (not true for this year now that the huge English laurels have been removed) or at the feet of several 100’ Douglas fir trees.

Burned leaves-yes. Dead-no. Little buds remind me that it will be back for another year.
Burned leaves-yes. Dead-no. Little buds remind me that it will be back for another year.

 A few more surprises waved hello as I wandered through the garden. Edgeworthia dropped most of its blossoms but now has new leaves popping out. Carpenteria californica and one other mystery plant have lots of burned leaves but are coming around with new growth. The mystery plant takes a lot of shade as well as full sun I sort of recall being called “mosquito” plant, but it doesn’t look anything like that when I search for the plant on the internet. I hope one of my fellow ‘hort heads’ can identify it.

Carpenteria californica is an evergreen plant for us with gorgeous white flowers in late spring.
Carpenteria californica is an evergreen plant for us with gorgeous white flowers in late spring.

An unknown plant because I lost the tag years ago. Identify anyone?
An unknown plant because I lost the tag years ago. Identify anyone?

Another good garden plant for structure is Euonymus ‘Green Spire’. Not as hardy as the fortunei species, this plant took a bit of a hit this winter, too. A species rhododendron (unknown because it is from a friend’s garden who passed away a number of years ago) looks like it sailed through without any damage. But it’s blooming, so I have to throw you a bone after looking at dead leaves and bare stems.

Dead tips on several branches of this Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire' will need to be pruned away ASAP.
Dead tips on several branches of this Euonymus japonicus ‘Green Spire’ will need to be pruned away ASAP.

Only one flower this year demonstrates that even this hardy Rhododendron didn't like this cold winter.
Only one flower demonstrates that even this hardy Rhododendron didn’t like our cold winter.

The point is that if you rush right out and tear out a plant that looks dead, you might regret that you didn’t wait longer to see if the plant would come around on its own. Patience, fellow gardeners, patience.

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 4

The Philadelphia Flower Show (grand Poobah of American flower shows) is the first show I’ve attended where floral exhibition was integrated into the landscape rather than segregated as a separate area. This year’s theme, ‘ARTiculture’, found designs inspired by a selected piece of art, a range of paintings by a particular artist, or even a specific exhibit at a museum. 

An imaginative, enormous flight of floral imagination greeted us as we (with fellow APLD members) entered the show. Nearby was a large ‘wild’ garden that focused on native plants. We saw gardens inspired by painters, Mondrian, Matisse, Wyeth, and more, as well as one inspired by a Korean exhibit. Smaller student gardens emphasized sustainability. Here are the gardens or details that captured my attention: 

Lobby outside the entry: Spectacular paper flower creations such as this that made up a chandelier.
Lobby outside the entry: Spectacular paper flower creations such as this that made up a chandelier.

Also outside in the lobby was this sculpture that consisted of paper cut letters.
Also outside in the lobby was this sculpture that consisted of paper cut letters.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: A spectacular use of large-scale flowered mobiles and topiary made up the centerpiece for this over-the-top entry garden. Alexander Calder was their artistic muse.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: A spectacular use of large-scale flowered mobiles and topiary made up the centerpiece for this over-the-top entry garden. Alexander Calder was their artistic muse.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: An immediate dose of hyacinth fragrance hit my nose the minute we entered and saw all of the color provided a multi-sensory experience.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: An immediate dose of hyacinth fragrance hit my nose the minute we entered and saw all of the color provided a multi-sensory experience.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: Large balls shaped with chicken wire were covered in dried vine and twig, and then ornamented with flowers.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society/ARTiculture Entry Garden: Large balls shaped with chicken wire were covered in dried vine and twig, and then ornamented with flowers.

American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) + Philadelphia Museum of Art Painted bamboo created the structure for these floral + bamboo creations mimicking palm trees.
American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) + Philadelphia Museum of Art
Painted bamboo created the structure for these floral + bamboo creations mimicking palm trees.

American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) + Philadelphia Museum of Art An amazing chandelier made of plastic utensils and topped with plants.
American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) + Philadelphia Museum of Art
An amazing chandelier made of plastic spoons and topped with plants.

Stoney Bank Nurseries + Brandywine River Museum: This was a stunning garden of natives and not all in their green state. Intermingled were rusted signs of abandoned farm equipment. Inspired by the art of Andrew Wyeth.
Stoney Bank Nurseries + Brandywine River Museum: This was a stunning garden of natives and not all in their green state. Intermingled were rusted signs of abandoned farm equipment. Inspired by the art of Andrew Wyeth.

Stoney Bank Nurseries + Brandywine River Museum: Dried teasels create a dramatic accent among all of the spring green plants.
Stoney Bank Nurseries + Brandywine River Museum: Dried teasels create a dramatic accent among all of the spring green plants.

James Basson of Scape Design + Collection of the Prince’s Palace Monaco A shockingly different sort of garden than one usually finds at a garden show. Within the cob wall was a seat treated with shou sugi-ban, a Japanese form of flamed preservation. A large bowl offered a liquid contrast to all of the dry elements.
James Basson of Scape Design + Collection of the Prince’s Palace Monaco
A shockingly different sort of garden than one usually finds at a garden show. Within the cob wall was a seat treated with shou sugi-ban, a Japanese form of flamed wood preservation. A large bowl offered a liquid contrast to all of the dry elements.

James Basson of Scape Design + Collection of the Prince’s Palace Monaco Using all dried plants set against an arc cob wall created a strong textural contrast and celebrated the forms left for winter.
James Basson of Scape Design + Collection of the Prince’s Palace Monaco
Using all dried plants set against an arc cob wall created a strong textural contrast and celebrated the forms left for winter.

Waldor Orchids + Tyler School of Art While this display was abundantly decorated with a myriad of orchids, my eye went directly to this intriguing sculpture created with straight green twigs attached to a curvilinear form.
Waldor Orchids + Tyler School of Art
While this display was abundantly decorated with a myriad of orchids, my eye went directly to this intriguing sculpture created with straight green twigs attached to a curvilinear form.

Andy Sturgeon Landscape and Garden Design A quiet contemporary garden in Sturgeon’s typical restrained, but elegant, style.
Andy Sturgeon Landscape and Garden Design
A quiet contemporary garden in Sturgeon’s typical restrained, but elegant, style.

Andy Sturgeon Landscape and Garden Design Modern orange chairs added a color element to this otherwise naturalistically colored garden.
Andy Sturgeon Landscape and Garden Design
Modern orange chairs added a color element to this otherwise naturalistically colored garden.

Ever wondered what to do with that dead tree that has great form? Here ya go! Painted in Pantone’s color of the year: Radiant Orchid.
Ever wondered what to do with that dead tree that has great form? Here ya go! Painted in Pantone’s color of the year: Radiant Orchid.

Hunter Hayes Landscape Design + Penn Museum Adding blue glass to gabions filled with stone adds a little sparkle.
Hunter Hayes Landscape Design + Penn Museum
Adding blue glass to gabions filled with stone adds a little sparkle.

Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens + Barnes Foundation Inspired by Matisse, large colorfully painted shapes provide the art set against thousands of bulbs and spring blooming shrubs.
Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens + Barnes Foundation
Inspired by Matisse, large colorfully painted shapes provide the art set against thousands of bulbs and spring blooming shrubs.

Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens + Barnes Foundation Fragrant orange hyacinth were stiff competition for the colorful art forms.
Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens + Barnes Foundation
Fragrant orange hyacinth were stiff competition for the colorful art forms.

Schaffer Designs + Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum This was a very quirky floral display but I was fascinated by how the designer mingled all of these colorful forms. Inspired by the art of Wassily Kandinsky.
Schaffer Designs + Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
This was a very quirky floral display but I was fascinated by how the designer mingled all of these colorful forms. Inspired by the art of Wassily Kandinsky.

Robertson’s Flowers & Events + Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Inspired by “Dancing the Dream” this floral display was hard to miss with its rectilinear forms and bright colors.
Robertson’s Flowers & Events + Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Inspired by “Dancing the Dream” this floral display was hard to miss with its rectilinear forms and bright colors.

J. Downsend Landscaping Inc. + Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Inspired by Mondrian, an art student’s garden interpretation.
J. Downsend Landscaping Inc. + Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Inspired by Mondrian, an art student’s garden interpretation.

J. Downsend Landscaping Inc. + Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts A students interpreted version of Cristo’s Central Park display.
J. Downsend Landscaping Inc. + Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
A students interpreted version of Cristo’s Central Park display.

Temple University, Ambler School of Environmental Design An interesting intersection of round forms in the logs, inside the gabion, and inset into the path.
Temple University, Ambler School of Environmental Design
An interesting intersection of round forms in the logs, inside the gabion, and inset into the path.

Temple University, Ambler School of Environmental Design This should have been better developed as art, but I appreciated the noble attempt at creating art using recycled pipes.
Temple University, Ambler School of Environmental Design
This should have been better developed as art, but I appreciated the noble attempt at creating art using recycled pipes.

Mark Cook Landscape Contracting LLC + North Carolina Museum of Art There were some beautiful elements of this design, but I found the intermingled forms to be too much at the same scale and without a solid relationship to one another.
Mark Cook Landscape Contracting LLC + North Carolina Museum of Art
There were some beautiful elements of this design, but I found the intermingled forms to be too much at the same scale and without a solid relationship to one another.

Mark Cook Landscape Contracting LLC + North Carolina Museum of Art The back side of the first photo is lovely but has little relationship to the front.
Mark Cook Landscape Contracting LLC + North Carolina Museum of Art
The back side of the first photo is lovely but has little relationship to the front.

Suburu This exhibit almost looked as though it had been picked up out of Seattle and placed in Philadelphia. I loved the use of dried grasses and the round metal forms containing logs.
Suburu
This exhibit almost looked as though it had been picked up out of Seattle and placed in Philadelphia. I loved the use of dried grasses and the round metal forms containing logs.

I am not positive who should be credited with this design. I think it is the Delaware Valley College. If so, the garden focused on Nature Deficit Disorder. Considerable use of signage encourage visitors to experience some aspect of the garden. While the signs were helpful, this could have been a very elegant way to organize the entire garden, which felt a bit disorganized with too many different materials and design ideas.
I am not positive who should be credited with this design. I think it is the Delaware Valley College. If so, the garden focused on Nature Deficit Disorder. Considerable use of signage encourage visitors to experience some aspect of the garden. While the signs were helpful, this could have been a very elegant way to organize the entire garden, which felt a bit disorganized with too many different materials and design ideas.

Delaware Valley College? The use of bamboo at the exterior to mount various self-portraits was fun. I wondered to myself if there was a more water-proof way to incorporate something like this into a garden.
Delaware Valley College? The use of bamboo at the exterior to mount various self-portraits was fun. I wondered to myself if there was a more water-proof way to incorporate something like this into a garden.

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 3

Because I will be in Philadelphia during the course of Portland’s Yard, Garden, & Patio Show this year, I asked to come to the show the day before its opening. Yes, it’s a LOT hectic that day, with so much construction still going on. So I’m focusing this designer’s eye on what was in place during my visit and definitely before all gardens were complete and ready to face the public. Favorite components of these Designers’ Challenge Showcase Gardens were:

Come Alive Outside, Design and construction by Dennis’ 7 Dees
There were several features that I particularly liked in this garden: the constructed garden room with dining within, the use of metal watering troughs as raised planters, the funky water feature, and the decking pattern. The galvanized steel roof of the structure worked well with the galvanized planters.
1-7D

2-7D

3-7D

4-7D

Inside Out, A Family Portrait: Design by Elida Rivera/All Oregon Landscaping
A garden created for a family that likes to cook outdoors, as well as a fire place where they can gather are the components that define the layout of this garden. Beautiful outdoor kitchen counters and a table with colorful stools are exceptional details.5-Rivera

6-Rivera

7-Rivera

A Bountiful Feast, Design by Jenna Bauer with Showscapes
Although there was a LOT of activity within the center of this garden, components that were pretty evident are a water feature to welcome visitors, raised edible beds, a chicken coop, Belgian espaliered orchard/screen, entertainment bar, and sustainable greenhouse. When completed, this garden will also include a compost transfer station and a water collections system. I really liked the entire concept of having these all relate to one another.
8-Bayer

Abstract Reflections, Design by Matt Hammack, Autumn Leaf Landscaping
Goal to make small space look larger, elevation changes, angles, saturated soil/low spot area, reflective pond with fire elements, art backed by water screens with dripping water, covered patio structure which can double as a greenhouse; woven metal fence (from metal flashing).9-Hammack

10-Hammack

Small Lot, Big Entertainment, Design by Linda Meier with JP Stone Landscape Contractor
There were several clever highlights in this garden and they all involve circles: The repurposed metal disc used as a hanging lamp; the exceptional cut metal screens by artist, Patrick Gracewood; another round metal disc is used as a water fall. A partial circular pergola that supported the light fixture also supported hanging metal screens which could diffuse a view beyond in a real garden.11-Meier

12-Meier

13-Meier-Gracewood

The Art of Tranquility, Design by Treeline Designz with JSI Landscapes
A structural wall that encloses and divides this garden into two distinct areas defines the garden’s layout. Prayer wheels to be installed later in the day will welcome visitors into the space. While I was there they were working on the water feature area and paving. I loved the angular shade structure and guessed that the colored tubes might be what was going to go overhead to create shade or act as lighting. I’m also a sucker for those gorgeous ceramic prayer wheels which you can see in the “Learning from Garden Shows, Part 1”.14-JSI

Ifti (left) and Jeff (right) in the middle of the team near the water feature.
Ifti (left) and Jeff (right) in the middle of the team near the water feature.

16-JSI

Prayer Wheel artist, Chris Moench, busy getting the area ready for the prayer wheels.
Prayer Wheel artist, Chris Moench, busy getting the area ready for the prayer wheels.

Not part of the show gardens, but still a nice feature is an edible garden where designers have planted edibles that not only taste good, but look great together!18-EdibleGarden

The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon always has a spectacular display of winter-interest cuttings along with one of Linda Beutler’s amazing floral arrangements. This year is no different.20-HPSO

Now, off to packing for Philadelphia and the last garden show of this 4-part series.

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Learning from Garden Shows, Part 2

The same family-owned company that owns the Northwest Flower & Garden Show owns Portland’s Home & Garden Show. This year the gardens were the first visible parts of the show as we walked in, making it more evident that the owners want to refocus this show into something that will eventually look more like the Seattle show.

While the gardens are considerably smaller and overall less sophisticated than their Seattle counterparts I found some interesting elements. The backdrop of market stalls once again undermined getting any decent, overall shots of any garden. So I focused on details, which is really where the ‘rubber’ of any good design ‘meets the road’.

Attached to a wonderful metal gazebo, designed and fabricated by Dana Doken, were draperies which could render the interior private, as desired. The fabric may not have been an outdoor fabric but, if not, Sunbrella has new sheer fabrics ready for outdoor use. The gazebo would have been even better with a grand finial at the very top.
Attached to a wonderful metal gazebo, designed and fabricated by Dana Doken, were draperies which could render the interior private, as desired. The fabric may not have been an outdoor fabric but, if not, Sunbrella has new sheer fabrics ready for outdoor use. The gazebo would have been even better with a grand finial at the very top.

This little shower nook with its old-fashioned tub and Victorian style glass screen was charming. I would like to have seen a nod from the contemporary fence to these other two elements, though, to improve design cohesiveness. Garden design by Debbie Brooks Snyder
This little shower nook with its old-fashioned tub and Victorian style glass screen was charming. I would like to have seen a nod from the contemporary fence to these other two elements, though, to improve design cohesiveness. Garden design by Debbie Brooks Snyder

This was my favorite garden due in no small part to its design consistency. It had a very zen quality to it and was believable as the beach garden it was described as being. The detail of the stone steps to the DG paving above was a nice touch. Garden design by Marina Wynton
This was my favorite garden due in no small part to its design consistency. It had a very zen quality to it and was believable as the beach garden it was described as being. The detail of the stone steps to the DG paving above was a nice touch. Garden design by Marina Wynton

A quirky steel screen like this wouldn’t cut it in just any garden. This makes a statement so other details in the garden would have to work, as well. Garden design by Carolyn Gregg and Christine Ellis.
A quirky steel screen like this wouldn’t cut it in just any garden. This makes a statement so other details in the garden would have to work, as well. Garden design by Carolyn Gregg and Christine Ellis.

Two details from the show: note that the steel adjacent to the stone (on the left) is a straight edge next to a curved edge. This detail would have been more refined had the steel been cut to work with the stone in the same manner as the bricks adjacent to the pot in the detail on the right.
Two details from the show: note that the steel adjacent to the stone (on the left) is a straight edge next to a curved edge. This detail would have been more refined had the steel been cut to work with the stone in the same manner as the bricks adjacent to the pot in the detail on the right.

The work of a local metal fabricator, this addition to what is normally an ugly downspout would add a touch of whimsy to just the right garden.
The work of a local metal fabricator, this addition to what is normally an ugly downspout would add a touch of whimsy to just the right garden.

I’ll be visiting Portland’s Yard, Garden, and Patio Show next. I’m anxious to see what those designers have cooked up!

 

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