Archive for the ‘open garden’ Category

Old Hurlburt School Gardens in Corbett

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Kathleen Shelman

I met Kathleen Shelman when we both worked the HPSO booth at the Yard Garden & Patio Show. She’s warm, fun and funny and knows her plants. I’ve long been meaning to visit this garden. My long-time friend Tim Mackiness is the son of Faith, whose garden this was originally. Faith was instrumental in the formation of HPSO. Tim’s wife Judy Nylin was my first gardening mentor. In other words, the stories and connections go way back, criss-crossing all the way.

big flower and shrub border

I’m kicking myself for not taking more long shots of the garden as a whole. This is the first garden room (showing about a quarter of the border surrounding a large grassy area). There are two more, divided by clipped hedges like the one you see at the back here.


The borders are deep, densely planted and perfectly maintained.

more border

Most of the plants are familiar. The genius of this garden is the masterful juxtapositions and manipulation of color.


Kathleen graciously walked around with me. She said that precious little weeding is needed because of the density of the plantings and the biggest job is staking everything early on. You have to look hard to even see the rusted metal structure holding up the tall plants. Even when you do spot it, it fits in with the scheme of things. Those giant evergreens in the background add a majestic touch.


Plenty was in bloom, but always set of by a background of foliage, as with this Eryngium aglow against a symphony of greens.


other side of the hedge

Looking back toward the house from the other side of that hedge we are in the veggie garden, which I failed to photograph. Here, you just see some of the flowers that surround the garden shed, but believe me: this is a vegetable patch to be reckoned with.

vine covered cottage

If, indeed, you can call a vine-covered cottage like this by so humble a name as “shed”>

shady seating area

Back near the house an inviting shady seating area is decorated with vignettes like this…

towering trees

and surrounded by towering trees.


My photo doesn’t come close to doing justice to this slender shrub, but I hope I got the name right: Cephalotaxus. I’m going to be on the lookout for this one.

crocosmia emerging

I find Crocosmias at their most seductive when they are just emerging.


And as if Kathleen’s personal attention were not enough, her darling duckling ambassadors were there to give me a proper send-off. It’s a bit of a drive to reach this garden, but a beautiful one along the Sandy River, and having just visited Jane’s garden, I was well on my way. This was the last open garden for this year, but next year I urge you to watch for it. You could even use it as a springboard for a drive up the Gorge.

a visit to Longview Ranch

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

good food

Jane, aka The Mulchmaid and Ben, aka the Mulchman invited local bloggers to visit their gardens on Sunday. Here Heather, Laura, Linda and Laura’s Pirate (yes, we finally got to meet him) gather around the yummy treats Jane had laid out for us.

a closer look
I need to zoom in so you can see the cunning centerpiece, a stone-shaped white pot with succulents. That Jane has such good design sense.

Ben & Anna

Here’s Ben telling Anna about his Native Garden. Drawn by the sound of voices, we went directly to the back yard, which is Ben’s bailiwick.

gravel path

He has created such a sense of enclosure that it’s hard to believe you’re in an urban neighborhood. Doesn’t this look like a lakeside trail?

dogwood berm

Gravel paths wind around berms bordered by smooth river rocks, an unusual treatment done exceedingly well.

Acanthus mollis

Jane’s part of the garden is entirely different but no less well thought out. Her background as a master gardener is everywhere in evidence: every plant is in tip top condition, like this magnificent stand of Acanthus mollis.

Melianthus major

Compositions like this one, featuring Melianthus major let you know that placement of every element has been carefully considered.

Agastache in border

Crocosmia and Eucalyptus


cala lily & Eryngium


Rounding the corner before entering the Northwest Garden in back, there’s a last delicious taste of Jane’s finesse. Thank you so much, Jane and Ben, for your generous hospitality. It was a Sunday to remember.

floramagoria (Quirk & Neill open garden)

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

dead duck

Where would we be without second chances? This dead duck could sure use one. Well, if you missed out on the ANLD tour does HPSO have a deal for you! Monday evening, 4-9pm, this outstanding garden will be open to members and their guests (if you’re not a member, this would be a fine reason to join). For you poor, deprived souls who live too far away, I’ll do my expanded coverage now.

front garden

The front garden is relaxed Northwest style, incorporating large boulders and lots of evergreens (nary a blossom in sight).

rocks nestled in greenery

See how the rocks nestle into the greenery as if placed there by Mom Nature herself.

texture & color

Playing with texture and the many shades of green keeps things interesting.

hen & chicks

Moving along the narrow pathway from front to back, we begin to sense that something different is in store. This hen with her chicks is a hint, the duck I led with is a “dead” giveaway: these guys have a sense of humor.

bolted lettuce

Almost as stunning as an Echium, why fight it? Allow that lettuce to bolt.

cute display of burro’s tails

Cute way to display burro’s tails, don’t you think?

first peek into back

The first peek into the back garden announces that the subdued palette will be left behind.

grating material

The rusted grating used for this table/shelf was repeated underfoot, a brilliant maneuver to keep gravel from straying from paths.

garden view

Color is used liberally, but tastefully, with dense layering.

painted bamboo

Flowers are only part of the story.


Grasses planted in the middle of a paved area reminded me of a big, friendly shaggy dog.

Asian influences

Asian influences appear in the design of the pavilion and the stone lanterns guarding it. As some have noticed, that is Scott of Rhone Street Gardens, who did his own post on the tour here, as did Loree of Danger Garden fame and that girl with the hammer, Heather. Each person saw the tour through a different prism, so it’s fun to compare.

stone lantern

Another angle reveals the plantings surrounding one of those stone lanterns.

mosaic carpet

Whimsical touches just keep coming. Peter, The Outlaw Gardener, did a post that included several mosaics by Clare Dohna. This looks like her work.

fountain and fire pit

It was when I came upon this scene that I began to have the niggling feeling that I had been here before. Working with designer Laura Crockett, the owners had totally transformed their gardens while keeping some of the elements of the earlier version. Indeed, I had written a post in 2009 raving about that incarnation.

caterpillar on driftwood globe

A globe formed of driftwood hosts a fused glass caterpillar. It was hard to tell where the designer left off and the owners took over.

plant geeks

But these guys are plant geeks, and that is everywhere in evidence.

light fixture by Gina Nash

On this tour, each garden featured the work of an artist. Here, in the pavilion, you see the work of Gina Nash, who works with recycled steel.

colorful bar stools

Even the bar stools have a tropical feel.

whimsical weather vane

The stunning design provides the backdrop for a garden that is all about plants. I’ll shut up now and just show you some of them.










Most of us garden on a humbler scale, designing as we go. For us this garden is a treasure trove of ideas. On the other hand, it is an example of what works when you seek out the right designer. You can have a showplace where your own personality shines through. These owners were absent the day of the pre-tour, but others sang the praises of their designers as good listeners, sensitive to the special needs of their clients and the site.

ANLD garden tour coming up

Saturday, May 18th, 2013


Mark your calendars: Saturday, June 22, from 10am to 4pm, you can tour seven professionally designed gardens on Portland’s west side. The tour is organized by the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers. Tickets are $20, with all proceeds going to scholarships for design students. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the results of professionals in action, with ideas ranging over a variety of styles and all incorporating unique works of art. Looking for a designer to work with you? You may find the perfect fit here. Looking for inspiration? It’s a sure bet you will find some here.

The above photo was taken on a previous tour, which I featured here. You can find further information about this year’s tour on the ANLD Facebook page.

mom’s day delight

Monday, May 13th, 2013

the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden

After phone conversations with both chillen and a lazy breakfast, my idea of the perfect way to spend the day was a drive through the country to visit the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden in St Paul. Richard is a big fan of Rhododendrons, the stars of this garden. My main interest was to see how they had been used and the companion plants chosen. In the above photo, the orange dangling blossoms are an unusual form, R. ‘Lady Chamberlin’.


Paths criscross the long slope of the garden, making it easy to get a close-up view of the many well-labeled specimens.

towering firs

Towering firs provide dappled shade. We heard grumbling from those who bemoaned having missed the peak bloom time. I found sparser bloom more to my liking than the gaudy collision of color that can result from too many Rhodys blooming at once.

Mahonia bealei

Several understory trees keep things interesting. Mahonia bealei rises from a bed of false Solomon’s Seal and liriope.

Acer griseum

Acer griseum’s peeling bark adds to the interest at eye level, while its leafy upper reaches cast lovely shadows.

sapling trunks

Beyond the maple, smaller trees congregate.

Honey Locust

Looking up, the light shining through the leaves of a honey locust is the perfect foil for the tracery of limbs and branches.


Care to sit a spell and soak up the atmosphere? Plenty of atmosphere provided by the rough bark of ancient trees and the forest smells surrounding a stone bench.

light and shadow

Light and shadow are major players on this stage. I love the way this tall Rhody is silhouetted against the play of light in the background.

R. occidentale

A fragrant Pacific Coast native, R. occidentale cleverly greeted us right at nose level.

R. uvarifolium

Amusing topknots of new growth were forming on R. uvarifolium.

R. yakushimanum

The new growth on R. yakushimanum gave it a multi-hued appearance, plus, its indumentum was showing. This, to me, was far more interesting than any flower.

R. ‘Snow Queen’

Which is not to say the flowers we did see failed to charm. R. ‘Snow queen’ is a case in point.

native ground cover

But what of those ground covers and companion plants I was interested in? In some areas they were all natives; plants that I recognized from our forest floor.

maidenhair fern

Pillows of maidenhair fern lined one path.

unknown ferns

These urn-shaped, flat-faced ferns covered large patches of ground and caught the light. They look like some that are in our woods, too, but I don’t know their name…maybe a juvenile form of the sword fern?


A small patch of primroses added a splash of color and textural variety to this vignette. The trees and specimen Rhododendrons were all clearly labeled, but not so the ground cover plants. A few that I recognized were trilliums, hellebores, bergenia, dicentra formosa, vancouveria, violets, pulmonaria, calas and fringecups.

scene 1

Let me leave you with a few scenes from this amazing garden:

scene 2

yep, that’s me

And yep, that’s me. R couldn’t resist sneaking a shot when I asked him to hold the camera while I scribbled notes. I hope your Mother’s Day was a grand one.


bloggers meet up

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Linda’s house

Driving around her neighborhood, it wasn’t hard to spot Linda’s house, set back from the street and surrounded by horticultural wonders. We Portland area bloggers have taken to getting together in the spring and fall to swap plants and tall tales and, in this case, partake of some lovely home baked cakes.

the Washington crowd

Some of us are into the second year of doing this. Once the word got out, others joined in. In fact, Alison and Peter (in the middle of the above photo) even came all the way from the Tacoma area. Jenni, shown on the far right, did a fine post with links to the blogs of everyone who participated, so I will just give you a little tour of Linda’s garden.

outside the fence

Outside the fence, there’s plenty of “curb appeal” to tip you off that something wonderful is going on inside.

lawn and border

The large front yard is dominated by a patch of lawn surrounded by borders filled by interesting plants


a sweeping drive surrounded by more of the same (plants, plants and more plants)

corner bed

A large corner bed

dramatic front entry with Euphorbia wulfenii

and a dramatic front entry flanked by Euphorbia wulfenii in all its glory.

Eryngium agavifolium

I couldn’t resist pointing my camera at a few of the plants. This one is, I think, Eryngium agavifolium (Linda has a way with Eryngiums that leaves me green with you-know-what)/

Alchemilla mollis

Alchemilla mollis was earning its keep by capturing water droplets.


Love the color of this Primula

mystery plant

I’m hoping Linda will enlighten me as to the identity of this plant with the interesting foliage. (Linda came through…it’s celadine poppy from Joy Creek).


Ditto this one (some sort of Artemesia?) Yes, A. ‘Valerie Finnis’…thanks, Scott!

back yard pond

Moving around to the back garden, the first area offers seating around a small pond.

Acacia provissima

In the middle of the back garden, dividing it into two separate rooms, is this magnificent Acacia provissima, an inspiration to all of us who have tried, and failed, to bring one to maturity.

Cordyline centerpiece

On the other side of the Acacia, another zone-pusher holds court.

bamboo along fence

With bamboo growing along the fence line, a feeling of complete privacy is achieved, while still borrowing from towering trees in the surrounding neighborhood.

tub with tulips

Little vignettes are around every turn.

blue pot

And I’ll leave you with that parting shot, and thanks to Linda for hosting another great get-together. Thanks, too, to all who came, bearing interesting plants, entertaining stories and the good humor we gardeners are making famous. I loved seeing friends and making new ones. It’s amazing how quickly bonds form in this little sub-culture. Next time, I’ll show you what came home with me.

Scott’s Garden

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Pretty cheeky of me to presume to show you my pictures of Scott Weber’s garden when his own shots are so stellar, but here goes…

billowing borders

If I were forced to come up with a word to describe the style of this garden, it would be “billowing”. This is a guy who obviously loves plants and is always willing to shoehorn one more into these voluptuous borders.

steep bank

Crowded, maybe, but never out of control. The steep bank between house and sidewalk offers a great staging area to showcase the mind-boggling plant collection. Scott had us in stitches with his stories of the embarrassing mishaps that befall a gardener trying to dig on a steep embankment.

hell strip

On the other side of the sidewalk, slightly raised beds continue the extravaganza.

more hell strip & neighboring trees

See all that deep green in the background? Scott’s garden is tucked into a hidden and very private neighborhood surrounded by mature trees.

feathery grasses

A fondness for grasses is everywhere in evidence. Seldom have I seen them incorporated so skillfully into a planting scheme.

tall grass

really big grass
bunny grass

Astrantia seed heads

I admire the way he has left seed heads standing as architectural elements after the flowers have faded.

Allium seed heads


Several handsome varieties of sedums show up in the hell strip.

tiger eye sumac

I’ve had my eye on a ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac. This clinches the deal…must have one.

crocosmia and actea

It doesn’t hurt that the bright orange Crocosmias and the dark foliage of Actea set the stage so beautifully.

Eutrochium, nee Eupatorium

Scott stays right up to date with the vagaries of plant nomenclature. Eutrochium used to bear the name Eupatorium. I think I’ll just call it Joe Pye Weed and be done with it.

Selinum wallicianum

Several plants were new to me, like this Selinum Wallicianum.

copper arch

Around the side of the house, this copper archway leads into a back garden choked with many varieties of Agastache and the hummingbirds that have appropriated them.

Scott and Loree

And here is our host, conferring with Loree of Danger Garden fame. Their styles of gardening could not be more different, but the love of gardening binds their friendship. Let’s hear it for diversity!

dare to visit the danger garden

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Saturday was a scorcher. How fitting, then, to be invited into the danger garden, where Loree has long proclaimed her love of hot summer days and the plants that thrive in them.

in-ground Agave with Ceanothus

Leave it to my procrastinating self to arrive at mid-day, the worst possible time to get good photos. I have discarded most of the ones I took, but a few that are passable will give you an idea of Loree’s style…a very definite style with a point of view, a limited palette and a partiality for spiky plants. The entire front garden is mulched with gravel, a perfect setting and environment for the chosen plants. Here are an Agave and a Ceanothus.


mix of textures

Texture plays a big role here.

Rosa pteracantha

Look at the wicked thorns on that Rosa pteracantha. When the light is just right, they glow like they’ve been possessed by the Devil himself, gaining them passage into the Danger Garden, the only rose you will find here.

Black mondo grass & Eucomis

A row of Black Mondo Grass lines the front walk, backed by a row of Eucomis before giving way to a less formal arrangement. A hallmark of this garden is restrained exuberance.

staged pots with Phormium

With her prodigious collection of pots, she is able to stage vignettes like this whenever there is an opening. When I say that she uses a limited palette, I certainly don’t mean boring. The pots run to silvers and grays, with punches of chartreuse, orange and red. The house is painted a deep, chocolate brown, a color that shows it all off to the very best advantage.

alley to back yard

Even the VW bug sitting in the driveway seems to fit into the scheme of things, as we head past the potted veggies toward the back of the house.

Acacia provissima

The house color takes on different tones in different light, as here it provides the background for Acacia provissima

pot grouping with orange accents

See what I mean about the pots, and the bright accents?

wavy cement pots

more pots

square pots

wild looking agave in pot

lush tapestry of plants

A lush tapestry of plants surrounds the area…


and segues nicely into the sunken patio…

table top goodies & plants

where our hostess served up colorful and delicious refreshment in the style to which we had quickly become accustomed. We lingered and chatted and soaked up the ambiance…hellish temperatures be damned. If you have yet to discover the Danger Garden, a treat is in store for you, and it’s only a click away.

Lucy Hardiman’s garden

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

corner view with bench

Anyone who has been gardening in Portland for any time at all knows about Lucy Hardiman and her garden. The bench in the foreground of this shot (taken from the sidewalk, looking up at the house through madcap plantings) is emblematic of her generosity of spirit. She put it there so that passers-by would have a spot to rest their bones and take in the surrounding bounty.
corner of hell strip

One need not even enter the inner sanctum to experience a garden worth making a special trip to see.

Aesclepsia and phlomus

A big fan of Phlomus russeliana, I never lusted after the pink one, but these are more of a dusty mauve, and are going on my wish list, as is the Aesclepsia front and center.

Hakanachloa macra

Yes, the parking strips are brimming with interest, but on the other side of the walk the fun really begins, like this Hakanachloa macra catching the light as it spills over the retaining wall.

Allium seedheads

Part of Lucy’s genius is knowing when to cut back and when to let well enough alone. Allium seedheads are sculptural elements long after the colors fade.

mosaic carpet

Pathways to the street are paved with pebble mosaics.

Phlomus with barberry

Here’s more of that Phlomus, this time paired with the deep bronze tones of barberry.



pots of succulents and carnivores

OK, so as a member of HPSO, I actually have been invited to enter Lucy’s realm…

play of light and shade

where the play of light and shade is dramatic, and must render the garden a changing experience all through the day.


A calm expanse of lawn anchors the space.

sky blue newel

The four corners of the lawn are defined by sky blue newel caps.

gravel square

At one end, a gravel path leads to another square.

large pot with metal swirls

In the center of the gravel square sits a large terra cotta pot with a bouquet of brightly colored metal swirls.

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’

The formal elements give way to an explosion of exuberance in the surrounding borders, as with these spires of Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’.


shade plants


glass totems

shiny balls in tree

One corner of the garden is dominated by a large tree hung with colorful shiny balls.

chimney pot and Rhody

A chimney pot echoes the color of the fuzzy undersides of a Rhododendron’s leaves.
There is a name for that, but I can never remember what it is.


Despite the liberal use of garden art, this garden is all about the plants. I’m guessing the height of this Mahonia to be 10-12′.


I would have expected a huge Brugmansia to be featured in a starring role, but this one is tucked away to be discovered…expect the unexpected.

colorful seating area

A seating area is as colorful as the garden in full bloom, and as is Lucy herself. I can’t believe that I have been a member of HPSO for many years without ever before having visited this treasure…but there you have it: always something waiting to be explored. A brand new member shows you her take on this same garde4n at Bell and Star
parting shot from across the street

And here’s one final, parting shot from across the street, as I prepare to get in my car and bid this inspirational garden a reluctant farewell.

the good, the bad & the “oops!”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I will start with the very, very good:

Stewartia rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium, Linaria purpurea & ??? with open gardens book

That would be HPSO (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon). Last week I received the Open Gardens book, 132 pages filled with descriptions and directions for members’ gardens and a schedule of dates when they will be thrown open for us to visit. Lots of new gardens this time, and several must-revisits. All gardens evolve, so going back to favorites is always a new experience. Then, on Sunday, the annual meeting featured Marietta O’Bryne showing slides and talking about the fabulous gardens she and Ernie have developed in Eugene OR. I found myself scribbling furiously in the dark, but the main attraction was Marietta herself, whose infectious personality and love for her subject, “The Vocation is the Garden: Our Life in Our Garden” put us all on a “just friends” basis. We have hosted many famous gardeners (the likes of Christopher Lloyd), but none would outshine the O’Brynes.

See those little glassine packets next to the book? Those represent another great feature of any HPSO event: 50 cent packets of seed gathered from members’ gardens. I picked up Stewartia rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium, Linaria purpurea and a mystery package whose label got lost along the way.

seed starting trays

I even picked up some seed-starting set-ups to give them a fighting chance. My success rate with seeds has been spotty, but it is a thrill to add something new to the garden this way.

pots on windowsill

My usual method is to use little clay pots set on gravel in these long, narrow trays that just fit on the windowsill in my studio. This works just fine for easy starters like zinnias and sunflowers. This year I’m trying out some Love Lies Bleeding and some Bells of Ireland this way. Many of these things are said to do well sown directly in the ground, but I think the birds get them or something, cuz you couldn’t prove it by me. I’ll probably mix up the leftovers (that windowsill fills up fast) and strew them around just to see what happens.

sunflower seed sprouting

Inside the Botanical Interest packets, it says that a sunny window will not be adequate to get things going, but the zinnias and sunflowers that I started a week ago are beginning to put in an appearance even though sunshine has been in short supply around here.

Aeonium ‘Voodoo’

Now here’s another good thing. We succulent lovers have long bemoaned the paucity of labeling. Most sellers will offer a collection of varied plants referred to en masse merely as “succulents”. The above tiny pot came from Home Depot, fully identified as Aeonium ‘Voodoo’ A.undulatum x arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ followed by instructions for its care. I went to the provider’s web site and found all sorts of info in a clean, attractive, easy to navigate format.

fallen bird’s nest

A fallen bird’s nest with smooth pebbles to simulate eggs makes a nice centerpiece for our outdoor table.


I did everything I could to give this Agave neomexicana a home to its liking: raised berm, lots of grit in the soil mix, gravel mulch, planted high, sunniest spot (Loree…did I forget something critical?). Can’t blame the poor thing, with the kind of weather we’ve been having. It looks like there may be some life left in the central, upright part. Should I cut away all those distressed leaves and see if summer will cure what ails it?

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies

See those dried up flower scapes on my Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’? Those were plump and promising before the snow and plunging temps hit. The rest of the plant is in prime condition, but I do have bouts of envy when I see photos of the glorious blooms others have experienced. This seems to happen every year. Maybe I should put a sock over the buds next time?

the deer’s Italian cypress

When it isn’t the weather, it’s the wildlife. On the bright side, the deer seem to have singled out this one Italian cypress to nuzzle when they feel the need. They like ‘em young and supple, so I guess if it lives long enough they will leave it alone. When the deer turn their liquid gaze on you, it is hard to deny them anything.

rhododendron sinogrande

Our Rhododendron sinogrande emerged from winter wraps (perhaps prematurely) looking a lot better than it did last year. I’m still waiting for evidence that we have gained a zone.

good rhody leaf

We have many Rhodys (R’s passion), some of which are looking glorious,

rhody with thrips

while others have that rusty look that comes with thrip attacks. I will use a dormant oil spray as directed to see if that fixes this particular problem.

nibbled rhody

Still others seem to have been nibbled by something bigger than a thrip. Maybe that spray will make them less appetizing.

new bed? oops!

This one qualifies as an “oops!”, meaning I brought it on myself. I wanted to extend an existing bed, but because of all the gopher activity, I wanted to excavate and line the bottom with wire mesh. I got about halfway there when the rain set in, turning everything into a loblolly. R’s sister and her husband were visiting for the holidays. Kath noted that water was gushing in that area. Sure enough, a water pipe had sprung a leak. What a way to entertain guests: R and John were up to their shoulders digging a trench and repairing the leak. I won’t be able to set this eyesore to rights until the muck dries out. Would you believe that no one laid a guilt trip on me for this misadventure? Guess they knew I could do that all by myself.