Monday, October 22, 2012

An obsession starts slowly, and builds…

Early last fall I had the opportunity to visit and photograph a gorgeous garden in SW Portland, in fact it was so wonderful it took me two days to share all the photos (you can see them here and here). As I worked my way through that garden I discovered something fabulous around every corner. Spiky Yucca rostrata shared a garden with some of my favorite Agaves as well as big leafed Colocasia, Palms, and even a few Passion Flowers and an amazing Restio. I was never sure what I would discover next. What surprised me most though was this…

I’d never seen anything like it.

At first my thoughts came close to wondering “what were they thinking?” The lines were so strong, I didn't really get it. Plus I was still feeling pretty strong about not putting rocks in the landscape "just because." However the longer I stood there and stared at it the more I liked loved it.

But then I forgot about it.

That is until a recent post by Mark and Gaz at Alternative Eden took me back. They had visited the RHS garden at Wisley and posted several photos of their visit. This one in particular struck a chord with me…

And this one too (photos used with their permission)…

Then just a little over a week later I saw this…

On Prairie Break, the blog of Panayoti Kelaidis (photo used with his permission), he was writing on the topic of Rock Garden Design and included the above photo of Sandy Snyder's crevice garden which he said is now 15+ years old.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Later that same day I got an email from the owner of the original garden (up top) and an invite to come see his garden and take some follow-up pictures. Yes of course I did! (sorry, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see all those photos). However this time I approached the crevice garden expecting it, anticipating it and heck I had a name for it now too!

And it looked amazing, the plants had grown in quite a bit and the lines created by the stone were not quite so harsh. I asked about the inspiration behind this part of the garden and the owner/gardener credited Sean Hogan with the vision, adding that the material is basalt, salvaged from the previous home owner's landscaping.

Hmm, even better that they didn't truck in loads of rock to create this, but rather used what was on hand.

I’m inspired. Ideas are percolating. I’m not sure exactly where this will lead but I’m enjoying thinking about it.

44 comments:

  1. I like that crevice garden, even more so now that the plants have grown significantly since you first saw it. It's a good alternative to the more usual style of raised beds and xeric scaping. Sounds like you have a plan brewing :) exciting times ahead!

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    1. It certainly does give me something to scheme about for the grey wet winter months to come...

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  2. Oh wow! those agaves have grown sooo much! And I can't even put into words my sheer joy and excitement at the idea of percolations about epicness like this.

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    1. Haha, I think you did though! (put it into words)

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  3. Oh, I LOVE this. I can't wait to see what you create!

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    1. It might be an epic failure though...

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  4. Looks great especially since the agaves have grown. Hooray for percolaing ideas! Wonder if you'll be ripping something out soon?

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    1. Well unless we have an unusually dry fall/winter I doubt it. And the first project to be tackled will be the Hydrangea removal. Then...who knows!

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  5. Crevice gardens do seem to grow on you. I didn't like the Wisely one when it was first finished and am still not 100% about it. I thought there was too much rock and not enough plant. I like the way this one has larger plants which making the rock lines more subtle without actually covering them.

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    1. I do agree that the big Wisely one is a little too much in the way of rocks (size and quantity), and those plants don't really look like they are going to get much bigger.

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  6. I like the crevice gardens, especially the small version at Wisley. Good ideas. In a practical matter, walking on those uneven surfaces to maintain the larger gardens might be a problem long term.

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    1. Yes that is a good point Shirley. Luckily the one I saw in person has several other routes available into the other parts of the garden. And if I was to do something like this is would only be in a corner of a bed, still I can see myself not completely thinking through maintenance if I got really carried away so thank you!

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  7. I'm really uncertain about all of these. I think it's because for me a rock in the ground must look either completely natural or completely artificial. Even more so when there are lots of rocks used. To me these all feel somewhere between the two, and it doesn't quite work for me.

    Maybe it's the difference between seeing them in photos and in person though.

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    1. You've got me stumped with that "completely artificial" part. I get the natural part, and for me that's still the golden standard.

      I think what won me over here is the pattern, I do like a graphic pattern. I think maybe too because the rocks are just a material. It isn't someone saying "I need 5 boulders to really "make" my front landscape"...in fact if I do something like this I'd love to use cement fragments...or maybe something else??

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    2. By "artificial" I didn't mean rocks really, but rock-like materials: concrete, cut stone, bricks, clay pipe, tiles. I'd like to see a design like this done with cheap cement pavers set on edge. I've got ideas now...

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  8. I've had rocks on the brain too and started planting up a single course with succulents for winter. It is a great habitat but tricky to pull off -- it can look chaotic pretty quick. I like the looks of this crevice garden Sean has planted here. Full of possibilities!

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    1. Yikes I bet your right, and I certainly don't need more chaos!

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  9. Looks great with more growth, and wonderful, creative recycling of stone.

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    1. Yes! I loved that part too...instead of being hauled away it was put to work.

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  10. At first I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. But by the time I got to the end of your post, I was in positive territory. Still not sure whether I *love* it but it's visually intriguing for sure. And that counts for a lot.

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  11. Thank you, I've never seen anything like this. This isn't at all the type of landscaping done here in NY. I love it. To me it reminds me of sculptures made in the gardens of modern art museums. Except this is my type of modern art.

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    1. Great take on it Melody, it does have a modern art twist. And if someone wanted to play up that angle even more I bet the outcome would be pretty fantastic!

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  12. I think it really depends on the perspective, for me. Looking at it straight-on, it's feels very forced and artificial...but looking at it length-wise, it's very effective. Perhaps in planning your own, you'll be able to limit the angle from which it's viewed...just a thought.

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    1. And it's a good thought...I agree!

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  13. I really like it! Believe it or not it can actually occur in nature like that. So why not! Can't wait to see what you do!

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    1. Thanks Candice, it will be a few months but I'll have fun playing around with ideas.

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  14. I love it. I bet it'd look awesome on a hillside too. Hmmm...}:P

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    1. And does that mean you've got a hillside to play with?

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  15. I think from a design standpoint if it's used as an accent and not in harmony with the rest of the garden design it doesn't work. However, if it's part of the rhythm of the design, as using the same rock elements elsewhere in the garden it works. In others words using the pattern as a motif.

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    1. Which is kind of why I was thinking cement instead of rocks for me. If it goes in the back garden (which is where I'm currently thinking) then I've got the cement pavers and edging that create a precedent.

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  16. http://kallima.sk/eg.php?menuID=skg_bzabrno&page=egalery.php&dbID=bzabrno
    shows the crevice gardens, possibly the world's coolest, in the botanic garden in Brno.
    There are also things going on in the Utrecht Botanic Garden utilizing recycled materials, concrete, etc., to make rock gardens and crevice gardens.
    Skalky a jejich stavba (rock gardens and their construction)by Holubec and Vlasak, in Czech, out of print, has tons of pictures of crevice gardens.
    Crevice Gardens and their Plants, by Zdenek Zvolanek, in English, has detailed advice on how to build such things.

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    1. Thank you Bob, I am going to have a lot of fun looking up those names and links! Have you been to the garden in Brno?

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  17. I'm glad to have a name for it too. I saw one of these at Denver Botanic Garden this summer. There's a picture in my post: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=16932

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    1. Thanks for the link Pam, When I asked Panayoti permission to use his photo he mentioned the crevice garden at the Botanical Garden. I'm going to add your photo to my inspiration file.

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  18. A seriously amazing garden. Not sure how it ties into the rest of the garden or even the house style but I think it is an amazing idea with use the slate on end. I could see using this with a very modern house. I think a trough garden may be on the cards for my garden.

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    1. It actually ties into the house style quite nicely. A low long ranch with lots of hardscaping. Can't wait to see your take on the trough garden!

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  19. I like it. Very artistic. I especially like the one from Prairie Break, perhaps because it has more plantings and more color.

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    1. True, the color really does take it in another direction doesn't it?

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  20. Oooh, I can see something like that on the left (house) side of your front walk close to where the level changes. This could be a great way to transition down to the driveway. In fact it could work well alongside any paved space. Go, Loree!

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    1. Uhm...you're right, it would look great there! Not where I was thinking but it's good to explore all the possibilities!

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