Thursday, October 25, 2012

A gardener moved to the neighborhood…

The house had been vacant for quite awhile, several months at least. I didn't even realize it had been purchased until I noticed a few things moving in, the most important of which were big plant containers and plants. A gardener had moved into the neighborhood! Not knowing who these new neighbors of mine were, I already liked them. Anyone who moves with plants is my kind of person.

Then:

Now:

When the house was empty I had walked up the drive and cut a few of the huge Clematis blooms growing near the garage, figuring someone ought to be enjoying them! I remember thinking how fabulous the short covered breezeway between the garage and the house was. The fact that the new owners grouped a few containers there right away made me so happy. Yes…I know, it’s odd that I paid so much attention to a house that wasn't mine. Dog walking will do that to you.

I don’t remember exactly how much time went by before I finally met the new owners, Bridget and Mary (yes, that Bridget) but we were instantly talking about plants and their plans for the front garden. One of the first things they did when planting the front garden in the spring of 2011 was put in this simple (fabulous) metal edging along the planting borders and pathways...

Such as this one that hugs the front of the house, I love the look!

I remember being afraid these Astelia wouldn't make it though last winter (I'm still suffering the sadness of loosing several established plants of my own). But they did! They all 3 were supposed to be Astelia nervosa 'Westland' but as you can see the one in front has more of a silver cast to it.

You know I’m no fan of the conifer but I am in love with this Cedrus deodora 'Cream Puff.'

It glows, even on the cloudiest grey days.

These little Aloes made it through our easy winter last year; hopefully it will be equally successful this year.

Fall never looked so good!

Bridget called this beauty an Alaska Fern, which may mean (if I trusted the right internet sources) that it’s a Polystichum setiferum. I love it’s slightly Grevillea-esque foliage.

The River Birch (Betula nigra 'Heritage') with its peeling bark is pretty fabulous too.

Okay…one last look at the beautiful Abutilon and let’s go have a look at the back garden!

We walk through the breezeway...

And we're magically transported back in time! No this isn't what the garden looks like now (can you imagine?) Before you see the back garden in it's current state I thought I'd share a couple of shots from 2011, shortly after they moved in.

As you can see there was a lot to remove before they could even think of creating a garden. The large trees along the fence line (Ailanthus altissima, or Tree of Heaven) were removed early last spring. I won't lie, at the time I thought they were crazy. Mature trees, why would anyone remove them? I've since learned a lot about just how horrible those particular trees are. I've seen how they are sending up a million seedlings on the other side of the fence, and throughout this garden.

So that was then...let's look at now! Of course since everything was planted this last summer it's all still quite small. The important thing is that it's all still alive! Can you imagine planting a new garden right before the the 3 driest months in recent memory here in Portland? A lot of work went into keeping these plants alive...

Looking out accros the garden.

Like fire! Beautiful...

Edgeworthia, which will soon charm with it's winter flowers.

Under the covered patio a nice dining area, complete with lighting (I'm jealous)...

This beautiful maple comes from Bridget's grandmother. She has a photo of it in the same container from the 70's and estimates its age at somewhere between 43-45 years old. We won't talk about the careless delivery person who recently broke a branch, we'll just be amazed at it's beauty.

There's a little spiky danger in every garden, here in the form of a Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon"...

Love the transition between the two styles of hardscaping.

Here's my favorite spot in the garden...and a peek at Tupelo as she keeps a watchful eye on just what this crazy stranger with the camera is up to...

The driftwood also has family history attached...it was retrieved from the California coastline by Bridget's father and grandmother (the same one who planted the maple) many years ago...

Euphorbia stygiana, a plant I was happy to hear has been a huge success for Bridget in past gardens. I've fallen quite in love with mine and don't want winter to take it away.

Every great gardener has at least one Agave...

Looking back towards the west, where we first entered the back garden.

Love the rusty patina on the planter...

And the chairs!

Okay, one last picture of this perfect spot to spend an evening sipping and chatting.

As you may have guessed by now Bridget has a lot of experience in garden design and working with plants and flowers. Locals may recognize her from Poppy Box (sadly closed before my time here in Portland) and later the Lake Osewego branch of Ravenna Gardens, a fav Seattle nursery of mine. She's currently working her magic in the floral department at New Seasons.

Can you spot the Loquat on the left? On the right (out of frame) are a couple Magnolias, a much nicer tree than the removed "Tree-of-Heaven" (or hell as many say)...

And another happy healthy Euphorbia...

Along with more sexy driftwood.

The first time I saw this garden (on a warmer, sunnier, drier day) there was an umbrella over that chair creating the coziest little area to curl up with a glass of wine and a good book.

Okay I lied, one last look back at the vintage chairs...

..before we go closer to look at the happy plants grouped on this table.

I am excited to see this garden as it matures and the plants grow up. Bridget's refined plantings (this is a lady who knows what she wants and tracks it down, as opposed to my willy-nilly plant procurement style) will grow together to create an wonderful hide-away in which to relax and forget the world beyond.

Of course Tupelo isn't waiting...she's already got relaxing down to an art-form...thank you for sharing your beautiful garden Bridget!

63 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Such a gorgeous transformation! I wish gardeners of this magnitude would move into my neighborhood.

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  2. Even if all they had done was put in that gorgeous fence, it would have been such an improvement. All of the planting though -- wow.

    My only question: what are they going to do in the future? With everything planted up already, is there any room for new plants?

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    1. There are a few spots still left to conquer, so they've got another season of planting ahead. With so much to photograph I didn't bother to capture those spots. And as we all know tastes change, plants protest, and Mother Nature intervenes. I imagine there will be a few new plants trickling in over time.

      Oh and I forgot to mention that my Hydrangea will have the honor of residing here next spring, that is if we can successfully remove it and transport it down the block...

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  3. Fabulous. OMG. I so envy people with that kind of vision. What a gorgeous garden.

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    1. She goes about it exactly the opposite way we do! Us = buy plant and find a place to put it...her = devise a plan. Crazy!

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  4. Well-laid-out changes there. Though that deodar cedar looks to be way too close to the house, it is incredible - perfect bones for some assorted potted agaves from someone..... The rock edges on top of grade are stunningly gorgeous - perfect! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I think my photo made the Cedar look closer than it really is. If it were at my house then yes no doubt it would be too close (cause that's how I do things) but I'm pretty sure she probably took the mature size into consideration when she planted it.

      And you're right...I can see a few Agave pups here and there....

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  5. That is an amazing transformation...so jealous of that metal edging!

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    1. You and me both...where would you put it?

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  6. You are so lucky just to have neighbors who garden (as opposed to the ones who just cut their grass), that they know garden design is a big plus! I'd love to see that back garden when it grows up, all those wonderful foliage plants will look great growing together. I love the rusty steel border, but the stone edges are really my favorite. Oh, I'm coveting that driftwood too. I need a little cozy nook like that chair and table somewhere in my garden.

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    1. While I am fortunate to have neighbors like this I do have plenty of the kind that just mow their lawn...and I even have a few who can't be bothered to do even that!

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  7. Ah ha! So many things make sense here. 1. I was a huge fan of Poppybox; 2. I have repeatedly wondered who's behind the fabulous aesthetic of the New Seasons floral department. And as for this garden? So, so lovely and thoughtful. If only I had carefully edged and built beds this way! Love.

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    1. I so wish I could have shopped at Poppybox, but then again I'm pretty happy with Garden Fever too. You know LeAnn you need to have a PDX garden bloggers plant exchange at your garden sometime...I would LOVE to see it!

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  8. What a transformation! And in just a year, you say? I am jealous of the lovely fence replacing the chain-link-with-slats (like our original) they inherited. Bridget has done amazing things with the space and her sure hand with the plantings is beautifully realized. I look forward to more virtual visits as it matures.

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    1. The front garden was done spring summer of 2011 and the back garden just this summer. Amazing huh?

      Since the chain-link most likely belongs to the city they left that in place and built their wooden fence just on the inside of the property line. It worked out really well didn't it? Such a clean line to start a new garden with.

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  9. What a transformation!!...I lile these people...wait until spring!! Yes i find a plnt and find a place , dig up and move..its all evolution to me....

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    1. Me to Sharon. Even when I plan it's still sort of a free-for-all.

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  10. How lucky your are to have Bridget in your neighborhood. If only we could all have true gardeners as neighbors. Her garden is lovely and I look forward to seeing more pictures as it matures. And so nice that she rescued that house and yard - all that potential was just waiting for the right person to come by. As for the Abutilon - I think I'm going to give this plant another try in my garden; I just can't stand being without one and your picture made me insanely jealous.

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    1. Oh yes...what if there were parts of town where the gardeners lived and then "other" parts for the lawn folks! I love it. Then again part of me likes the idea that those of us that garden just might inspire someone near them to take it up. If we kept it to ourselves that could never happen!

      Cistus had several lovely Abutilon in their tough love sale...might still be there...

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  11. Great transformation! Lucky you to have such cool neighbors but people who plan first, then buy plants? That's just crazy talk! Beautiful garden & I love the glass chunks!

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  12. Beautiful garden, and will get even better with maturity. Bridget is very talented!

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    1. Yes she is and word is she's good with the pruning saw too! Guess who's gonna help us whip our sad street trees into shape...yay!

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  13. They've been busy! Your dog-walking, garden gawking has me wishing there was an easy way to do a dog walk exchange where you got to walk other people's dogs in their neighborhood so you could get to see other gardens for a change. I feel like I know my neighborhood like the back of my hand now.

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    1. I love that idea! When shall we start up the doggie swap?

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  14. Beautifully transformed garden, it's so much more fun to walk the neighborhood when there are places like this to see and they worked so quickly.

    The non-gardening neighbors next door finally planted their driveway island with lovely ornamental grasses and perennials today after nearly 30 years of just planting a couple of sad petunias in the mailbox planter each year. Why? Because they are selling the house.

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    1. Oh that drives me CRAZY when people finally fix up a house only to leave. Why not enjoy it while you're living there!?! Maybe you'll get a real gardener next door...(fingers crossed)

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  15. Wow, what a beautiful yard! It looks so peaceful. I loved the moss on the wood it was a nice touch.

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    1. That moss is picture perfect isn't it?

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  16. Wow, that's absolutely gorgeous and quite the makeover!

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    1. Looks like lots of folks agree with you!

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  17. Bridget 's momOctober 25, 2012

    All these compliments! They make a mother proud. I got the tour along with some of my other talented kiddos when I visited in Sept. We sat around the firepit after a gourmet lunch, basking in the amazing beauty of the gardens. Bridget and Mary are also very gracious hostesses.

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    1. I bet they are great hostesses! If only the rains hadn't returned so drastically here in Portland I would be angling for an invite to set around the fire bowl some evening soon...

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  18. What an amazing/rapid transformation!

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    1. Especially when you consider they haven't exactly been slackers indoor either...

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  19. She has a lovely front and back garden with choice planting. You can tell her panache in garden design with the creation of her own outdoor space :)

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  20. This is amazing, high gardening culture and a lot of knowledge in one!If I'll ever made it to Portland, I'd love to see this garden alive. But it's a far way from Berlin ...

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    1. Yes it is...but thanks to the internet you can virtually visit!

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  21. I'm green with envy! Wouldn't I just love to have a neighbor who was in to gardening... Just wonderful transformation.

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  22. First, how nice to have a gardening neighbor! Secondly, Wow! That is one beautiful garden. and Thirdly, I loved the little stories behind the driftwood and the maple. I just love it when plants have a history. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. I do to, makes a place so much more meaningful to have things around you with a little history attached.

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  23. Absolutely lovely!! How exciting to see such a transformation. It is well planned and executed with exciting plant combinations...FANTASTIC! I hope to see it in person some day soon!

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    1. Uhmm...sounds like perhaps you're thinking this would be a great stop on a garden tour...

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  24. Wow! What a transformation. It's beautiful.

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    1. I'm so glad I was able to capture it in way everyone could enjoy.

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  25. What fun for you to have a kindred spirit in your neighborhood. Now you can drop by any time for a cup of...(gravel, with a wine chaser).

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  26. Virginia KleinOctober 26, 2012

    Fabulous! Wonderful! I feel like I just strolled through a park. What a transformation. I admit to being envious of the tranquil and beautiful ambience Bridget has created. I'm looking at my backyard with a much different eye!

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    1. It's inspiring to see what others do with their space isn't it? That's one of my favorite things about blog/magazine reading.

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  27. How ....INCREDIBLE! Everything about this transformation is amazing. I mean, the impact just the addition of that dark blue or grey on the window trim makes blows my mind. I especially like the addition of the paths from the main path to each side of the house to the back yard. I think this definition of the front beds and functionality is wicked. Cool people live there no doubt - with a whole lot of vision AND talent!

    Thanks for sharing Danger!

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    1. Good eye to spot that window trim color, it really does take the house styling up a notch. And what I like best about the paths that they put in the front garden are that the really lead somewhere. So many times paths just seem to be a "must do" with no real purpose.

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  28. Nice post, with lots of onteresting plant vignettes, and also some new plants I've never seen here in the SF Bay Area, like that Cedrus deodara 'Cream Puff'. After doing a bit of internet sleuthing, size estimates range from 10 foot tall to 40 foot tall,( which size sounds much more likely). It looks like it could be a reslly cute accent, but unlikely to stay small. This shows PDX is no slouch in the garden design and plant geek territory, and is up there with designs here in the Bay Area. My only quibble would be with that raised rock edging, it looks a bit static and formal, but I suppose it will contrast nicely with the plantings as they mature. Thanks for posting this...

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    1. I may be a bit partial but yes I do believe that Portland is on par with garden designs in the Bay Area...

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  29. OK, that's a stunning garden already, and it hasn't even filled in yet. Yes, they clearly know a thing or two about good design. Thanks for sharing this with us in such detail. And how nice to have new gardening friends in the 'hood!

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    1. One can never have too many gardening friends, especially in the 'hood!

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  30. I hope you'll revisit next year and update for us....
    So nice to have people who enjoy their gardens!

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    1. I will Marie (assuming that is I am invited too, no back garden stalking for me).

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  31. Did you give her something sharp and pointy as a garden warming present?

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    1. Unfortunately I missed their garden/house warming party. Luckily the husband went, but instead of sharp and pointy he went with tasty and boozy...

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  32. I love how simultaneously restrained and exuberant it all is. When it fills in it's going be perfect. And that driftwood! Swoon.

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