a vignette and the garden that produced it


Isn’t this just the most inviting place to sit a spell? On the weekend, I availed myself of the HPSO open garden program to visit this garden on Sauvie Island. On this virtual tour, you will see many photos that could just as easily have been selected to join Anna’s (Flutter and Hum) Wednesday Vignette (a day late…sorry).


The circle garden at the front contains a few clues into things you will find scattered throughout this large (1.3 acres) garden: wood, rocks, metalwork and plants… and more plants.


Let’s step a little closer to that stump at the center of the circle of grass surrounded by shade lovers. See the rock enclosed by the metal sphere? This same artist, Ray Huston, was discovered at one of the Hortlandia sales and has since been commisioned by the owners to create several works around the property.


Generous grass paths entice visitors into various nooks and crannies.


You may have noticed, in that last photo, the tall blue pots flanking the beginning of the grass path. They deserve a close-up so you can see the use of a begonia with Dorotheanus ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ spilling nearly to the ground.


A large metal pear nestles into the foliage as if it had dropped there from a great pear tree on high.


The whole front garden is sheltered by towering trees, leading to mysterious little getaways like this stone bench.


Say you love rocks, and your personal sculptor is only too happy to work them into the design of a bench.


Several themes tie this large garden together. One of them is color echoes.



…with touches of humor.


The back opens out into a sunny area with several berms and beds, each with a different character.


How’s this for an inventive edging for a veggie patch?


As beautiful as it is productive, it must also be a wonder at night, with electric lights strung around its perimeter. I asked about those towering Amaranth. They have self seeded every year since the beginning, eleven years ago.


Apparently, they make for yummy salads early in the year, before shooting up to 12′ or so.


Get a load of those Zinnias! This place is definitely blessed by the fertility gods. My seven little Zinnias are still working on producing their first bloom.


Even further back (right about where that first photo was taken) the mood shifts to prairie, with swaths of grass allowed to grow at will. You can see a structure containing the tomato crop and fruit trees, laden with fruit, dot the mowed area.


There were two of these, but the vines on the other one had grown to obscure the cute curly tops of their metal supports.


Heading back to that middle area where we saw the vegetable garden, you can see a more subdued, foliage-based bed.




Next to that, as we near the back of the house, is another colorful bed divided into quadrants.



Allium seedheads gathered into sheafs are quite decorative, with Echinops behind echoing the shapes.



And we emerge into the back patio…


Where we finally get to meet our host, Linda Wisner: the creative genius behind all that we have just seen and drooled over. She also bakes a mean brownie.

Lest we forget that this all started out as a Wednesday vignette, don’t forget to click on (Flutter and Hum) to see what Anna has in store this week.

open garden season is here

I expected the garden of Bob Hyland and Andrew Beckman to be fabulous, but it was better than that. It was (insert superlative of choice, as long as it isn’t “awesome”…not that the garden isn’t, but, well, you know…)


Art is used sparingly, but makes a big impact. This sphere of logs is one of the first things up as you walk down the driveway.


The eye is drawn to the long view,emphasized by rows of hedges in the foreground, leading to the river, the industrial district, the foothills, and, on a clearer day, the mountains in the far distance.


I was fortunate to run into Norm and Scott, seen here with Bob, our gracious host, and proprietor of Contained Exuberance in SE Portland..


His shop sells elegant containers, some that he has already planted up in his inimitable style. I’m going to show you some of the ones strategically placed around his property (without comments, so I can squeeze in more eye candy):









Hover dishes take things aerial. I could go on…and on…but you can see from this sampling how deftly Bob matches style of pot to planting material.


So let’s move on to the garden proper, where the hillside setting lends itself to layered planting…


within which many noteworthy vignettes may be found.




Verbena hastata

Verbena hastata

Some plants went on my wish list, like the above Verbena hastata


and Gladiolus papilii, flanking the stone stairs up the hill, with Scott clicking away in the background.


Just thought you might like a closer look at that flower form.


A chocolate mimosa frames a view up the back hill, with a veggie garden in the middle distance. The cone shapes that echo the color of the mimosa are lettuces that have been allowed to bolt. I’ve pulled out bolting lettuce for the last time.


See how the floating airiness of Gaura lindenhamerii is emphasized against the dark background?


Taking leave would be terribly sad, were it not for the cheerful border along the way out.






I can’t imagine a more perfect placement of Sempervivums nestled among rocks and gravel. If you see plants in this post that you simply must have (and how could you not) a good place to begin your search would be Xera Plants. After all, it adjoins Bob’s shop and is known for its forward-looking inventory of plants.

ANLD tour coming up


A meandering stream made of bricks cuts through concrete steps and walkways,


and meanders and eddies around rocks,


pooling into a virtual lake defining a conversation area.


Around back, raised beds overflow with not only fab produce, but bright red poppies.


When the well-kept part of the garden gives way to a fabulous meadow, a few of the red poppies dot the grasses here and there.


A path mown through the meadow was irresistible, and the many photos I took may have even convinced R that we need to go back to having a meadow at our place. I’m holding back, speaking of my many photos, but believe me: no amount of photos would spoil the delightful surprises you will find on this tour.


The alleyways between houses can turn into dead space, but in the hands of these designers they are transformed. I overheard several comments singling them out as their favorite features.


Plant choices can be brilliant, always in service of the overall design.


In this garden, an upper deck looks out over a greenspace, where Mother Nature is the gardener.


Another garden had us salivating over the stonework…so well placed that it seemed to have come with the site.


Another of those brilliant alleyways is lit up by the goatsbeard fluff.


In back, there is a deck overlooking a refreshing woodland garden with paths for strolling, making discoveries along the way. Each of these gardens, regardless of size, easily absorbed our rather large group.


It’s not often that we see smooth river rocks used as edging, and now I’m wondering why.


This alleyway feels like a streambed in deep woods.


Groupings of potted plants crowd the corners of the back patio.


Each vignette has its own personality.


Salad bowl, anyone?


Coming up on the smallest of the gardens on tour, we know it will be a doozy by the bold placement of these cor-ten planters right out front.


In back, different levels and a mix of modern materials keep the eye roving,


And everywhere, plants, glorious plants…like this Fatsia japonica ‘Camouflage’.


By using stunning small trees, the designer teases our eyes upward, to take advantage of the borrowed landscape of towering trees nearby.


A recurring theme was the relationship between designers and owners. In this garden, the owner did the rock work, while the designer created the soothing woodland garden that is raised above a circle of lawn.


Sunny and colorful, this garden even had the playful touch of a big pot of plastic balls for the grandkids to play with in the stream and pond.


More balls: could this be a theme?


The use of orange was definitely a theme, often paired with hot pink.


Much talk centered around this gate, and I am only showing you a tiny part of it.


Looking back through the giant leaves of a Tetrapanax


The last garden was designed to allow the owner to age in place. Thinking ahead, she wants to be able to garden here indefinitely.


No stooping or crawling required to maintain much of what we saw here. The nearly black lily in the pot was dramatic, and the first I’ve seen blooming this year.


Raised beds are classier than most, made of juniper and designed to fit together like a puzzle.


A huge Dawn Redwood shades one corner of the back yard, where we gathered to sip tarragon-infused lemonade and say farewell. It was painful to cut down to this number of photos, but I just wanted to give you a taste of the treasures to be found on this tour. Remember, you can pick up tickets tomorrow at Garden Fever if you fail to score a pair in my drawing at the Garden Bloggers’ Bazaar. What?! You can’t make it? Oh well, tickets will be available through the ANLD website, or at Al’s in Sherwood, Cornell Farm, Gardener’s Choice or Portland Nursery (both locations). There are eight gardens on the tour, which takes place on the west side on Saturday, June 20th.

open garden season is here

Jenna Baker

Meet Jenna Baker, garden designer extraordinaire, HPSO member and all-around gracious host. What a way for me to kick off Open Garden season. Mothers’ Day was the last scheduled open day, but you could make an appointment or check out Jenna’s Garden Boot Camp.


This is a large property, as you can see looking up the long walkway to the house.


After two sets of stairs have led you past long borders, we reach the last stretch of walkway, flanked by clipped boxwoods and large clumps of perennials.


The surprise of magnificent Cardoons used as border plants…


Roses are worked into the borders to show off to their very best advantage. I realized that my general antipathy for roses comes from “rose gardens”, where they are all crammed together in more of a “rose ghetto”.


Tucked in here and there, surrounded by greenery, their distinctive form and fragrance can be appreciated.


Not to mention the way companion plantings cloak the often unattractive form of the rose bush’s nether regions.


Another surprising element that I loved was this serpentine boxwood hedge. Its sinuous beauty made me wonder why straight lines and rounds are the norm.


The occasional closely clipped round can add an interesting element to a mixed border


Echoed by looser rounds nearby.


Drifts of ground covers, like this geranium, tie everything together.


Some magnificent ancient trees came with the property, like this gigantic cedar.


If you know cedars, you know that not many things will grow in their purview. A petticoat of lacy ferns is the perfect coup.


Never have I seen a Beech tree of these proportions.


A view from the driveway gives you some idea of how it dwarfs normal sized trees.


Here we’re looking out at the orchard through the scrim formed by the tricolor birch tree. It’s canopy creates an opportunity for shade plantings. I had to eliminate some photos to keep this from turning into a gardener’s version of ‘War and Peace’ but tust me, they’re wonderful.


Not easy to make a garden of this size feel intimate, but this one does. This is just one of several seating areas that invite you to stop a while (and even bring your own picnic lunch).


Long borders flank a bocce court.


Flowers, like these perfect delphiniums, are used discreetly, always surrounded by enough greenery to give them their due.




In some gardens, it’s all about new and exciting plant material getting added to the wish list. Here, the plants are familiar but used so masterfully that they seem new and exciting. As I drew near to study the Clematis, I was engulfed by a heavenly scent. Sniffing my way around the whole area, I failed to identify its source. Jenna knew just what I was talking about and now Azalea ‘Northern Lights’ has made it onto my wish list.


A dry border edges the parking area.


Lack of water does not mean lack of beauty. A Cistus spills around a rusty piece of art, placed as discreetly as other elements.


Just beyond the parking is a small sales area, where I found this ‘Black Sprite’ Centauria.


And ‘Flamenco Mix’ Kniphofia, which starts out orange and fades towards yellow as it ages.


Tucking my new purchases into the plantmobile, I reluctantly leave Rosemound Farm behind. Farmington Gardens is on my way home, so we’ll stop there next.

garden bloggers’ spring swap

Ask most gardeners and they will say that they are shy introverts. You wouldn’t know it if you dropped in to one of our get-togethers, where the groupings are lively and newcomers are quickly assimilated into happy-making plant talk.


It doesn’t hurt to have a host like Patricia (Plant Lust), seen here flanked on the left by Heather (Just a Girl With a Hammer) and on the right by Loree (Danger Garden). Tricia provided mimosas and all sorts of delectable tidbits to power our gathering, which grows larger as everyone wants to get in on the fun.


A big paqrt of that fun was getting to wander around Tricia’s garden. Hard to believe that it has been only a year in the making…so far.


Here’s Linda (Whatsitgarden) with her sidekick, Rosie, admiring one of the borders.


Pardon me, Jenni, far right, for showing your pretty face all scrunched up in concentration as you describe something important to Laura (Gravy Lessons) and her pirate, Charlie. Also, Jenn, I haven’t linked to you, because when I do, I get an ad for domain names. Can you set me straight?


There are still some blank spaces. That’s a good thing, because we plantaholics love nothing so much as a plant sale or swap. Darn, I failed to get a shot of all the plants that showed up here. Trust me on this: there were lots and they were good! I had to leave early, but I’m sure they all found new homes and a few will be filling in some of those blank spaces.


Now let’s take a look at some of the things that nearly wound up in the swap. It’s easy to think you’re not big on Peonies until you actually experience them. How tragic would it be to dig out this fabulous white one?


Or this magenta magnificence.


A magnificent old apple tree nearly got the axe, until judicious pruning saved the day. This is a garden to keep an eye on, as Patricia continues to work her magic.


I was on a tight leash, heading for the next thing, but who could resist a handmade sign saying “Dahlias” leading down a side street? Not me. It led me to this guy with a lineup of bulbs (tubers?) for $2.50 each. He helped me pick out the best ones, with some growth showing. I came away with a couple of small ones to be put in pots: ‘Jitterbug’ and ‘Velda Inez’ and two larger ones to test out the new herb protection theory: ‘Black Satin’ and ‘Majestic Kerkrade’. I hope to show you results come August. All in all, it was a memorable day.

ANLD highlights


As promised yesterday, I’m going to show you some of the highlights of this Saturday’s ANLD tour from my point of view. One theme that ran through several gardens was the use of cor-10 steel edging to define paths. I especially loved the sinuous one above.


Fine attention to detail is one of the hallmarks of these installations, as here, where several elements come together and dovetail perfectly.


This was another path treatment that appealed to me.


I’m lifting lots of ideas for plant combinations from this tour…loved the purple poppies with the Kniphofia ‘Timothy’.


Dynamite color combinations needn’t rely on flowers.


Seating areas offer another opportunity to play with color. I love the way these chairs add a zesty zing to the chartreuse tones of the foliage.


Taking advantage of a small porch pulls the garden right into this seating area. I failed to photograph another seating area where I sat a while (but Danger Garden captured it perfectly). It took advantage of a driveway with large planter boxes that were on wheels so they could be moved aside when access to the garage was needed: one of many examples of the problem-solving approach taken by these designers.


Use of materials is another interesting feature of the tour. Here, the material was poured, then carved to resemble stone.


Nearby, in the same garden, the same material was used simply, as poured, to form raised planter boxes (personally, I preferred this approach).


Here’s another approach to raised beds.


A close relative of the raised beds is this formal retaining wall of cast concrete.


We were served lunch at Garden Fever!, where service is served up with a sweet smile and you can find many of the things you’ve been falling for on the tour.


Case in point: This charming wall pocket and most of the plants it contains.


Each Designer is paired with an artist. In this case resulting in a large slumped glass luxury bird bath.


Everyone fell hard for this garden gate. Other bloggers (links in yesterday’s post) featured close-ups, so I will give you more of a long view of its placement in the garden. This artist also created a new twist on a bottle tree that must be seen to be believed.


I failed to ascertain if this was the work of an artist or the garden designer. Which goes to show the fine line between the two. At any rate, the carefully placed stones are part of a fountain.


Many times the placement of ordinary elements like this large, empty pot, could pass as garden art.






Several of the gardens had structures. This one had an eco-roof.


The large deck off the back of the house is the result of close collaboration between the designer and the owners. They wanted several large areas for seating and/or staging groupings of potted plants. Most of the owners made a point of the problems that were creatively solved by the designers.


I was especially taken with the planters designed by owner David P. Best. I love the assymetrical shape, which was not an easy thing to convey to the fabricator. This one, near the basement door, is painted a light color and planted with Rosemary. Another, on the front porch, is equally handsome in a darker color and planted with some sort of rush.


A longer version.


Notice how the foliage of the maple exactly matches the color of the door? If this were to happen in my garden, it would surely be a happy accident. I have no doubt it was intentional in this case.


So…have I managed to pique your interest in spending your Saturday strolling through six enchanting gardens, engaging in stimulating conversation with artists, designers and owners and filing away your own set of inspirations for future projects? You might win two tickets by backtracking to yesterday’s post and leaving a comment. Barring that, you can purchase tickets at Portland Nursery, Cornell Farms, Dennis’ Seven Dees, Garden Fever!, Xera Plants or online at www.anld.com.

ANLD in a vase…and free tickets


I’m taking a different approach to Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme this week. The six gardens in the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers (ANLD) were all dressed up for the pre-tour, and most sported flower arrangements. Like the gardens themselves, each had a unique personality.


These gardens are chock full of ideas: plant combos, hardscaping, garden art and structures. The designers, artists and owners will be on hand to answer questions and expound on their concepts and their experiences working together.


The tour happens Saturday, June 28 10am – 4pm and I have a pair of tickets to give away to some lucky local who leaves a comment here. I will need contact information so that I can get these in the mail to you by Thursday morning.


Tomorrow, I will share some of the highlights as I saw them. In the meantime, The Mulchmaid did a comprehensive post and The Girl With A Hammer is also giving away tickets. You can purchase tickets at Portland Nursery, Cornell Farms, Dennis’ Seven Dees, Garden Fever!, Xera Plants or online at www.anld.com.

Old Hurlburt School Gardens in Corbett

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

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)

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.