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Posts Tagged ‘Portland gardens’

Saturday, 6 March 2021

I cannot make myself go outside today except to open the greenhouses. My excuses are that, while the sun is out, the wind is cold and strong, with double wind warning flags flying at the port. And I heard a wee sprinkle of rain (but then the sun came out again) and maybe I feel lethargic from the Covid jab and the lingering effects of a powerful “double strength” antibiotic (not to mention I was direly warned to stay out of the sun while taking it). A friend says maybe it’s just age! Maybe it’s good to rest. Yet I get a sensation of panic that spring is slipping away and I have so much to do, most especially sifting compost to fill the two half empty fish totes. I have to remind myself we no longer have the weeding of the beach approach or other Long Beach tasks hanging over us and it is only March 6 and it is not a crime to spend a non-rainy day indoors.

Reading: Fearless Gardening by Loree Bohl

On February 25th, I began to read the new book by the creator of the Danger Garden blog. Work and good (non-reading) weather then intervened, followed by a health scare (almost over now) which had me turn to gardening videos because they shut my doom-laden thoughts off better than reading. I returned to the second half of the excellent book on March 4, surprised that so much time had slipped away.

The book itself was carefully designed with showy, colorful page edges.

Because it was a brand new library copy, I handled it with great care and didn’t have Cats on Lap.

Here are my favorite takeaways. (First, you might want to revisit the garden with me to feast your eyes on Loree’s spiky horticultural style circa 2014.)

The book is sprinkled with well-chosen quotations.

I like that Loree collects quotations and that she quoted Luvvie, whom I admire.

I pondered the words of Michael McCoy in the beginning of a paragraph quoted by Loree: “Given the fact that the most spectacular gardeners are the ones that fail most spectacularly, it’s really critical to get over your fear of failure.” At first, I thought, Well, I had no fear of failure in my three main personal gardens, my grandmother’s garden in which I wrought some changes once it became mine, my shady garden behind the boatyard, or my garden now. I then remembered the constant fear of failure in public gardening, where, as a public gardener said in a lecture that I attended, all your failures are on public view. I also remembered that I feel anxious (fearful?) when big city plantspeople come to my garden, that they will go away and make fun of it among themselves for not being cutting edge enough. Or too twee. Why do I care when it is just as I like it?

When I read this…

….I was reminded of these words, which I think Loree would appreciate.

People go through five stages of gardening. They begin by liking flowers, progress to flowering shrubs, then autumn foliage and berries; next they go for leaves, and then the undersides of leaves. -The Duchess of Devonshire

I must continue to maunder on about how things from the book started trains of thoughts about my past experiences. This, about a neighbor’s reaction when Loree first planted her front garden with small plants…

….reminded me of when I planted a small garden for a tiny restaurant in Seaview. The restaurant owner looked aghast at the small perennials that we planted in April and paid us grimly and did not speak to us when she saw us in the grocery store….until that same July when the garden was gloriously spilling over with the floriferousness she had asked for…and then she became warm and friendly again and said “Now I understand!” ….and asked us to plant up two more areas.

When I read that Loree admired the look of Corten strip edging in gardens, “custom fabricated….with bonded corners” and yet “I wasn’t sure where to get such a thing made and was pretty sure it wasn’t in my budget anyway”, I felt a wash of relief. I always feel stupid when I go on garden tours and see things like Little and Lewis inspired water features (or actual Little and Lewis water features) and gorgeous Corten steel low garden walls and have no idea how one would create or acquire such a thing. (I read somewhere that low metal edging without a smooth top can seriously injure dog paws, so keep that in mind. Maybe cat paws, too.)

I had forgotten about the perfect garden design word, “cramscaping”. And when I read this….

….I was reminded of when I cared for a garden at a local business. I “cramscaped” the two main garden beds full of choice plant divisions from my garden, including plants not seen much around here at the time, and the then-manager and staff loved it and took their lunches near the garden. (Pollinators had lunch there, too.) But a new manager came into power and said he did not want any plants to touch. “I’m not the one for the job,” I said, and wouldn’t try to do it his way when he asked me to just try, but instead passed it on to a friend…who later quit when he was told to remove a perfectly good plant in full bloom because it was too big or maybe dared to touch another plant.

Here is another great quotation collected by Loree, who wanted to send Monty Don a thank you note for saying “Half of gardening is just grown-ups going out to play.” I also remember laughing with delight when he said that.

She writes of growing bougainvillea as an annual in her Portland garden. I’m reminded that I grew up with one, in love with its pink papery blooms in my grandmother’s heated greenhouse, back when electricity was cheap. It was a sad day when she had to let it go because the cost of electricity rose so much. I could have sworn I had a photo of it, but the picture is just in my mind.

I loved reading that Robert of Felony Flats Garden got the Sunset Western Garden book from his grandmother. I still have the battered, well-thumbed spiral-bound copy that belonged to my grandmother, as well as all her old garden newspaper and magazine clippings that were inserted in the pages.

I’ve mentally swiped several planter ideas from Loree’s book. I won’t share them here; you’ll need to read her book for that, although later I will give credit if I implement any. Must find a rusty ….thing….and a big old funnel….and some skull beads.

Oh, my gosh, this isn’t even a British book and it mentions grit.

Around these parts, the only grit is turkey grit, small and glaringly white. We certainly can’t get the beautiful small amber-coloured stones that we see on British shows. Nor can we get small washed gravel. Loree, what do you use for grit? (I remember attending a workshop at Joy Creek Nursery, where they use 1/4-10 washed gravel in the garden. I wish I had a cubic yard of it, or more.)

A story about the “Felony Flats” garden being divided between the two gardeners made me smile…

….as I realized that probably most of what I like could be classified as “old lady plants”.

I (probably) couldn’t grow (well) at home most of what Loree grows because my garden has such a high water table and such cool summers, and I can’t grow spiky plants in well-drained public gardens around here because, especially in Long Beach, such plants are forbidden. The original guidelines for the city planters said no plants with thorns (or any poky bits), which didn’t stop volunteers from planting ginormous roses, phormiums and barberries in the planters, probably in an attempt to keep people from sitting in them. I almost planted some hardy cactus in containers for a western theme at The Red Barn until I envisioned a horse or dog’s soft nose making contact.

As you will see in Loree’s book, in more sophisticated city public gardens, spikes are celebrated and people and dogs are, I suppose, expected to behave themselves and stay out of the gardens. Fearless Gardening abounds with gorgeous examples, with most of the photographs taken Loree herself, making it even more of tour de force of creativity. I especially enjoyed the tours of gardens public and private that conclude the book.

One of several pieces of advice from Felony Flats: “Don’t be afraid to let the household chores slide during gardening season; that’s what winter is for.” (Unfortunately for the household chores, my winter is for reading and watching garden videos.)

Of course, I added some plants to my growing (and maddeningly unavailable here) acquisition list, and I’ve already shot my mail order budget for the year. My favorite Loree Bohl quotation:

“The only fear that should exist in gardening is, Is there enough money in my bank account?”

Among my new Plants of Desire: Eryngium proteiflorum, whose photo looks similar to Eryngium giganteum which I am having such a hard time growing; Passiflora ‘Sunburst’, which might prove hardy here; Accra sellowiana (pineapple guava). I want and have tried plants like Trachycarpus fortunei, a palm with gorgeous leaves that might do well in my sheltered garden, and Musa basjoo, the truly hardy banana, and tall echiums, with no success, maybe because we mostly lack summer heat. Loree’s book inspires me to fearlessly try again (if I can get my hands on such plants this or next year).



I was interested to learn that Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ is the true name of ‘Black Lace’ elderberry. Seems Black Lace is one of those trademark names. What a pleasure it was to read a book heavy on plant recommendation and identification after the Julie Moir Messervy design books, which I mostly enjoyed but which tend to recommend what I think are bad plants, and even to misidentify plants, and to only use the sometimes interchangeable common names.

No matter what your gardening style, I think Fearless Gardening would inspire you, too. It is available right here.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Garden Bloggers Fling, Portland

Allan at Bella Madrona

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photo 3

I couldn’t get down the steep hills into the lower gardens of Bella Madrona.  Since Allan had been there once before, long ago, probably in 2006, he went all over the garden while I happily revisited  only the upper levels.

at the entrance to the service road

at the entrance to the service road

P1100572

the little koi pond

He found the little koi pond

and the brown bottle tree.

and the brown bottle tree.

and the stream under stones

and the stream under stones

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and the chain on the rock.

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P1100580

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P1100583 copy

Eryngium giganteum

Eryngium giganteum

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P1100586

Allan says a lot of bloggers were admiring this tree, which was about 30 feet high.

Allan says a lot of bloggers were admiring this tree, which was about 30 feet high.

He thinks we don't have room for it, but maybe Steve and John do.

He thinks we don’t have room for it, but maybe Steve and John do.

He took this note of the name.  (??)

He took this note of the name. (??)

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lights on the trees

lights on the trees

bears breeches

bears breeches

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P1100598

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P1100606

Allan also found this fellow.

Allan also found this fellow.

After his exploration of the artistically rich gardens between the service road and the central lawn, Allan found the woodland swing.

bus driver Andy on the swing

bus driver Andy on the swing

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Andy helps set Barbara up with the swing.

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Barbara’s blog:  BWise Gardening (Nashville)

and her trailer about the Bloggers Fling

And then he began his descent into the mysterious depths of Bella Madrona.

the wild edge of the hill

the wild edge of the hill

P1100651

 

down into the wilderness

down into the wilderness

P1100653

 

I remember this!

I remember this!

further down and farther in

further down and farther in

There's my favourite bus driver again.

There’s my favourite bus driver again.

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by the bog

by the bog

lower meadow

lower meadow

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the gnome woods

the gnome woods

Andy in the gnome woods

Andy in the gnome woods

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P1100674

 

P1100675

 

fungi

fungi

disturbing!  No wonder gnomes can have a bad name.

disturbing! No wonder gnomes can have a bad name.

Although some appear to be nice.

Although some appear to be nice.

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P7120042

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P1100639

way down the hill in the bog

way down the hill in the bog

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danger tree?

danger tree?

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P7120052

P7120053

 

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Allan did not get totally lost in the strange lower regions of Bella Madrona; eventually he did return to the more civilized upper levels and joined us for dinner and took a walk around the house to see the blue bottle tree.

For a more organized tour of Bella Madrona, see my visit in 2011.

And thus we come to the end of the Garden Bloggers Fling.  Next year, it will be in Toronto.  I very much doubt we will make that one….but maybe you will.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Garden Bloggers Fling, Portland

The itinerary for our bus was different than on the schedule.

The itinerary for our bus was different than on the schedule.

wandering at Bella Madrona

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photo 3

I have visited this wondrous garden twice before, once in 2006 and once in 2011, when I attempted to do a very organized description of how it fits together.

This time, my experience was more random and wandering and my gimpiness kept me to the upper levels. In fact, I am not going to do my usual compulsive organizing and explaining; I’ll post the photos as they were taken so just walk with me while I wander here and there and then sit with me and observe. Allan had his own wanderings and adventures so I’ll divide this post into two parts.

What makes me feel so gently amused and at peace here? The gardens do not feel designed, even though there are plenty of intricate and carefully structured features. It just feels like it grew this way.

We arrive at the back entrance.

We arrive at the back entrance.

entry pillar

entry pillar

the gardens await us

the gardens await us

My first wanderings are all around the south? side of the house and big central lawn.

diving in

diving in

stacked stone wall

shade

a glimpse of the bloggers' farewell gathering

a glimpse of the bloggers’ farewell gathering

steps to the house; I find a level path instead.

steps to the house; I find a level path instead.

I find a little pond that I remember.

I find a little pond that I remember.

grass

little pond, big fish

little pond, big fish

I miss the enormous mossy boulder in my old garden; it was as bigger than a lorry.

I miss the enormous mossy boulder in my old garden; it was as bigger than a lorry.

Several of us were photographing this display of small brown bottles.

Several of us were photographing this display of small brown bottles.

bottles

 

The garden is so large that we drifted apart again.

rock

 

There's water under that rock.

There’s water under that rock.

rock

chain

chairs

chairs

conifers

rock

pot

pot

 

path

thing

chairs

bottles

I remember all these things almost as if I have been living here in a dream for the last three years.

chairs

shoe

chair

The paths become more formal nearer the lawn.

The paths become more formal nearer the lawn.

I stick to the wilder part.

I stick to the wilder part.

plants

 

fourntain

 

pot

vines

tile

Oh, for some pillars for my bogsy woods!

Oh, for some pillars for my bogsy woods!

thing

pot

While I was not having a physically painful day, I found it hard to do the gentlest steps, so I wandered the paths that I remembered would help me avoid steps, even the easy ones by the water feature below. The garden had stayed in my memory well, probably from blogging about it. I have more detailed photos of this cool waterfall stream in my 2011 post.

at the top of the waterfall stairs

at the top of the waterfall stairs

I take another route

I take another route; this path must lead to the central lawn.

I don't want to stop wandering yet.

I don’t want to stop wandering yet.

not yet...

not yet…

back to the wilder spots

back to the wilder spots

cornus

I have come round to the bottom of the waterfall steps.

I have come round to the bottom of the waterfall steps.

coolest water feature ever

coolest water feature ever

level path below

level path below

path

path

wall

where the land begins to slope downhill

where the land begins to slope downhill

stream

back past the waterfall steps

back past the waterfall steps

seat

I look at the path going downhill, but am pretty sure what used to be grass is now gravel, so I turn back to the level path below the central lawn. (Gravel can be slippy to walk on downhill. Later Allan tells me the service road took him down to the lower garden, but that was a route I did not know.)

the arches below the guest house

the arches below the guest house

or the stairs to the lawn

or the stairs to the lawn

this is the top of one of the paths from below

this is the top of one of the paths from below

I couldn't get down those steps today.

I couldn’t get down those steps today.

path

arches

path to the guest house

path to the guest house

coming up from below

coming up from below

line

There's the water closet.

There’s the water closet.

paint

I made it up the stairs!

I made it up the stairs!

a peek out onto the lawn

a peek out onto the lawn

blogger

stuff

all kinds of ingredients

all kinds of ingredients

lawn

porch

at the edge of the lawn

at the edge of the lawn

guest house

guest house

Itea ilicifolia: must have

Itea ilicifolia: must have

diners above the lawn

diners above the lawn

food

What a spread of food!

What a spread of food!

on the table, more swag: free CDs by Pink Martini.  (upside down, sorry)

on the table, more swag: free CDs by Pink Martini. (upside down, sorry)

Pink Martini loves to perform in this garden, and the CD we are given has a song set here: In the Garden of Sampson and Beasley.

I found this beautiful article about the Sampson-Beasley wedding in the garden.

Two large dogs and two pug dogs have joined us on the lawn.

Two large dogs and two pug dogs have joined us on the lawn.

A pug named Olive gets some love.

A pug named Olive gets some love.

diners

more pug lovin'

more pug lovin’

pug

 

lawn

 

With a plate of delicious food, I find a place to sit just above the lawn.

my view

my view

lawn

Then I decide I had better take an amble around the house gardens.

walk

gate to the parking lot

gate to the parking lot

chairs

ducks

I turn aside after taking a photo of these pretty ducks.

My good friend Sheila pointed something out to me when we were here in 2011.

My good friend Sheila pointed something out to me when we were here in 2011.

a window clipped in the hedge

a window clipped in the hedge

window

court

turning 180 degrees

looking back

looking back

hedge

chairs

 

I tell another blogger about the hedge window.

I tell another blogger about the hedge window.

persicaria

The ducks have gone to sleep.

The ducks have gone to sleep.

the greenhouse near the house

the greenhouse near the house

urn

yellow

the deck behind the house

the deck behind the house

patio

patio

patio

deck

by the main house

by the main house

house

 

beside the house

beside the house

around to the front

around to the front

the front porch

the front porch

porch

I remember seeing on telly (maybe Mike Darcy’s In The Garden) how Sampson and Beasley decided that since they did not enter from the front gate, they would just rip out the front sidewalk to the porch and fill it with plants.

around the other side of the house

around the other side of the house

the memorable blue bottle tree

the memorable blue bottle tree

I instagrammed it.

I instagrammed it.

bottle

a new repair

a new repair

on the way back to the lawn again

on the way back to the lawn again

lion

birdbath

lawn

the guest house (or studio?)

the guest house (or studio?)

I go on more wanderings (hobbling rather slowly) because the light is so pretty.

Hydrangea aspera

Hydrangea aspera

aspera

back to the top of the waterfall stairs

back to the top of the waterfall stairs

I wanted to see this fellow again.

I wanted to see this fellow again.

axis

pavers

on the lawn again

on the lawn again

lawn

patio

the pug lovin' still going on

the pug lovin’ still going on

pug

lawn

Andy!

Andy!

The tall guy in glasses is my favourite bus driver, Andy. A bit earlier I had found him wandering the garden. He said he had found a really great swing and suggested I try it; I declined, but later I found Allan had got some fun pictures of Andy trying out the swing. (Next post.)

more wandering

more wandering

path

these things again

these things again

chairs

the most beautiful, perfectly warm evening imaginable

the most beautiful, perfectly warm evening imaginable

the bottles again

the bottles again

balls

The cord shows that these must light up at night.

Finally, I return to my seat above the lawn. The party is going on well past 6 PM as no one can bear to leave.

Andy and Mr. Beasley

Andy and Mr. Beasley

lawn

We do eventually all depart on the buses and after getting back to the hotel, Allan and I made the two and a half hour drive home. But before I come to the end of the fling, next comes Allan’s adventures at Bella Madrona.

For Loree’s take on Bella Madrona, see her excellent post on Danger Garden (with a book recommendation that I must read). She resisted posting 100 photos, but I didn’t.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Garden Bloggers Fling, Portland

Floramagoria, part 2: the back garden

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photo 5

We’ve visited the front garden; now let’s go around the shady side of the house to the back.

side

lovely clematis

lovely clematis

This is one of those gardens where it is so hard to explain how all the wonderful parts fit together.  I will try to make you feel like you have been there with us.

just inside the back garden

just inside the back garden gate

inside

pitcher plant raised display

pitcher plant raised display

pitchers

 

look closely

look closely

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

godzilla

 

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

to the left

turning to the left

and as I turn, this is in a little shed to my left against the back wall of the house

and as I turn, this is in greenhouse to my left against the back wall of the house

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

shed

 

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

The view of the garden has me absolutely gobsmacked, so I walk along the back wall of the house first.

gravel

against the house

wall with cactus display

to my right: a low wall with cactus display

cacti

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

straight ahead, a covered deck

straight ahead, a covered deck

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

deck2

flowers

to my right: just beyond the green wall that borders the house patio

Oh!

Straight ahead:  Oh!

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

wall

Let’s focus on the details right behind the house before become overwhelmed by the garden.

deck

shelf or seating

shelf or seating

gnome

 

 

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Allan's photo

Allan’s photo, garden host, center courtyard outside house

love the way the house opens onto the garden

love the way the house opens onto the garden

our host and his dog

our host and his dog

inside

inside (Allan’s photo)

what a beauty (Å)

what a beauty (Allan’s photo)

 

corner

house

 

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Looking from the house out into the garden

Looking from the house out into the garden (Allan’s photo)

out

 

on a corner of the low green wall (from previous photo)

on a corner of the low green wall (from previous photo)

 

one of these on each side of the low green wall

one of these is on each side of the center patio.  Note the inlaid carpet, lower right

like this

The pillars are placed like this.

Just beyond the little head pillars, one step down,  is the carpet inlay:

carpet

 

carpet

 

brugmansia

brugmansia

looking back to the house

looking back to the house

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

 

 

fire2

 

gunnera leaf

gunnera leaf

 

frog

behind the fire area

wall

 

leaves

 

bamboo behind the wall

bamboo behind the wall

a good place to warm up after rain

a good place to warm up after rain

 

looking back to the house

looking back to the house

To our right as we face the fire is a big bamboo-roofed dining pavilion (thanks to the Garden Bloggers Fling website for helping me know what to call it!).   In researching what the structure might be properly called, I found out that the glorious Laura Crockett was instrumental in designing this garden.  Of course!  Her own garden was one of my favourites that I have ever toured.

one of the several little tiles throughout the garden

one of the several little tiles throughout the garden

the dining pavilion

the dining pavilion

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

in the pavilion, bloggers still dressed for rain

in the pavilion, bloggers still dressed for rain

cookies!

cookies!

inside the pavilion

inside the pavilion

inside the pavilion

inside the pavilion looking toward the house

view of the fire from inside the pavilion

view of the fire from inside the pavilion

from inside the pavilion, looking to the shade garden corner

from inside the pavilion, looking to the shade garden corner

a candle pillar by the shade garden

a candle pillar by the shade garden

Beyond the pavilion, in the back corner of the garden, a huge sequoia provides shelter in a shady corner.

the giant sequoia

the giant sequoia

with a bubble machine

with a bubble machine

at the base of the tree

at the base of the tree

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

the wall dividining shade garden from sun

the wall dividining shade garden from sun

shady corner

shady corner

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

perfect for a hot day

perfect for a hot day

from the shade garden

looking from the shade garden to the pavilion

looking back into the pavilion

looking back into the pavilion

Now on into the sunny gardens.  To our  right as we face the fire seating area are flower beds (out from the part of the house that has the greenhouse).  Here’s a little head pillar to orient yourself by:

beside the center patio

beside the center patio

a haze of pink

a haze of pink

sanguisorba, one of the my favourite plants

sanguisorba, one of the my favourite plants

sanguisorba and pink poppies

sanguisorba and pink poppies

ruffles and feathers

ruffles and feathers

pink

more pink on pink

more pink on pink

looking toward the pavilion at the back of the garden

looking toward the pavilion at the back of the garden

conifer cluster

conifer cluster

a path from sun into the shady Sequoia corner

a path from sun into the shady Sequoia corner

vane

blue

looking toward the house and the low green wall with cacti pots

Nigella (love in a mist)

Nigella (love in a mist)

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

The other side of this blue wall is the green wall of the shade garden.

The other side of this blue wall is the green wall of the shade garden.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

agave

 

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Melianthus major in a pot

Melianthus major in a pot

glass

looking across the center of the garden

glass

looking toward the house

looking toward the house

the cross view from one side of the garden to the other

the cross view from one side of the garden to the other

across

We’re going now to the other side (straight ahead in the above photo.  It would be to our left as we face the fire seating area.) The next part of the garden is below the covered deck with the memorable pool boy.

deck

head

 

just beyond previous photo

just beyond previous photo

flower

You can orient yourself by the little pillar heads; four closeups from above tableau follow:

looking toward the fire

looking toward the fire

pitcher plants at the base of the pillar

pitcher plants at the base of the pillar

looking toward the pavilion

looking toward the pavilion

close up from previous photo of glass flowers with Allium albopilosum

close up of glass flowers with Allium albopilosum

stepping into the side garden

stepping into the side garden

bamboo

looking out

looking out from the center patio

into a gold and orange themed garden area

into a gold and orange themed garden area

gold daylily and yarrow

gold daylily and yarrow

with bloggers galore

with bloggers galore

dahlias

 

path

the path to enter the gold and orange garden

bambooflowers

bambooSome painted bamboo is going to make its way into my garden.  I say that every year but this time I really mean that I am going to get around to it.  Really!

painted bamboo adding so much pizzazz and verticality

painted bamboo adding so much pizzazz and verticality

looking back toward the center of the garden

looking back toward the center of the garden

poles

and toward the back fence

and toward the back fence

flowers

flowers

shrubs toward the back fence

shrubs toward the back fence

looking toward the covered deck

looking toward the house

ruffled daylilies

ruffled daylilies

flowers

I hope you’ve enjoyed the many details of this back garden and have some idea of how it is arranged.

The path beside the deck leads to a side garden.

The path beside the deck leads to a side garden.

Next, we’ll go around the corner of the deck for part three of our Floramagoria tour, what our host called “our farm area”.  You’ll get a buzz out of it.

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