Monday, August 11, 2014

The Portland Garden Conservancy Tour 2014, The Melody Garden

Walking up to this, the The Melody Garden, I couldn't help but fantasize about that tangerine house as the back-drop to my garden rather than the hideous split wall of taupe and burnt-brick that I have to look at. Oh how wonderful that would be...

The official scoop on the garden from it's owner: "My garden was born eight years ago, when Michael Schuster of Orient Drive Landscaping transformed a bleak weed-scape into a place of year-round interest with contouring and naturalistic planting and rockwork. The front now provides screening from the street. In back there are flower beds and a fish pond, set off by the lawn. I have fun modifying and adding to my yard with on-going experiments. It is now my own little world which I enjoy sharing with other garden geeks."

There were two features of this garden which really stood out to me.

The first was this island in the middle of the front garden. After you climbed the steps from street level the pathway split and you were forced to go left or right around the island bed. I liked that, of course just because I liked it doesn't mean I got a great photo of it.

The plantings were dense (a good thing) and while a few plants jumped out at me as interesting there were many that my eyes just glossed over. The Mahonia eurybracteata is particularly handsome and I wish I would have paid more attention to that gorgeous tree (Arbutus?) in the background.

If your wondering about the wet look to the garden this tour was on June 28th and a little rain did fall that afternoon.

I resisted the urge to snack on the pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) flower, seems like that would be bad form...

Another striking Mahonia, M. gracilipes...

Okay another style question for you. How do you feel about labels on plants in private gardens? Obviously these are a step above leaving the plastic nursery tag visible but still I find them very distracting and have me feeling a bit like I'm shopping rather than appreciating a garden.

A pond VERY close to the house. I can just hear my husband saying "that seems like a bad idea"...

The second feature that stood out to me in this garden was the fact there were gardens on both sides of the home. So often one side is given over to the driveway and garage, but this lot was sandwiched between two streets allowing for the garage entrance to be at the back of the property, kind of like an alley but not creepy like one.

And just like that here we are back in the front garden and looking at that center island I mentioned (as well as the fabulous house next door)...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

25 comments:

  1. I like densely planted gardens but this one was almost too dense for me - or maybe it's just that there wasn't enough variation in the foliage colors to make the plants stand out from one another. If the gardeners used the black and white photo technique touted by Rebecca Sweet, they might find they have too many dark tones. I liked the pond, though, even if it was right up against the house.

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    1. True that the variation wasn't there, which probably made it feel denser. You've got me wanting to turn some of my photos black and white to see what it looks like!

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  2. You know how I feel about plant tags. No way, baby. You're supposed to interact with your host! Asking about plants is a great way to do that.

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    1. I'm with you on that. I want to see a beautiful garden and I'll ask when I desperately want to know what about a plant name.

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  3. I actually love this garden. the dense plantings with all that stone is beautiful. I don't mind plant tags but prefer them to be unobtrusive. I usually tuck the nursery tags at the base of the plants when I put things in. I can grab them to check on plant names but they don't show up to the causal observer.

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    1. That's a good compromise Deanne.

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  4. In this particular garden what I appreciated about the plant tags is that she had written the date she had planted them. I found this to take things to another level for me - since I am in the middle of re-landscaping our property.

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    1. Ah, good to know. So you were on the tour? I wonder if we crossed paths?

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  5. I bought a bunch of (expensive) tall stainless plant tags when I started planting my devil garden, mainly because the names are often the reason particular plants were included (eg, lucifer, horridus, malevolence, foetidissima, etc). I wanted to make it easier to remember their names and have the klanging in my own head echo for others. But now I'm rethinking that strategy (and clearly haven't gotten around to putting them in yet). Hmm...

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    1. Oh but I think this is a great idea, since as you say, the names are the whole reason they're there. I wonder, do you know anyone crafty who could make you custom tags that support the theme/look of your garden?

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  6. I love the beautiful stone paths and the layers of plants. The bright green sedum filling in the edges is a nice contrast to the stone. I don't care for tags as much as it is great to know the name instantly. It is too artificial for me! I like the idea of taking a black and white photo a garden to see about contrast.

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    1. You should check out Rebecca Sweet's book "Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form," she's got some great tips. Then again you've already got a great designers eye.

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  7. It's a very coniferous garden IMO and it does work well together, but it won't figure in my top 10 Loree Bohl gardens.

    I wonder what it looks like in winter? Probably not that much different!

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    1. True, probably not much changes through the seasons. Makes me wonder what is on your top ten LB garden list...

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  8. I like the center island bed, it forces you to make a decision which side to turn giving the visitor a sense of journey even if the space is relatively small.

    As for plant labels in private gardens, whenever we visit a private garden and find plant labels we can always if the label was meant to remind the owner or if the label is meant to inform a visitor, like in a botanical garden. The former is absolutely fine, the latter I find patronising and even pretentious. But again it all depends on the garden. I've seen a couple of gardens that are more of a showcase of extensive collections (alpine and succulent) and the plants are neatly arranged and of course labelled and in those situations the labelling even looked appropriate. But can you actually call those sort a 'garden'? Hmm...

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    1. The center bed got me thinking about what I'll do if I ever get rid of my last bit of lawn.

      All your points about labeling are great, and the debate continues...

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  9. Looks really relaxed and appropriate to the climate, if not pushing the envelope on plant selection. Not everyone wants to push the envelope. I like all the stone here and there. I like the pond--it depends on the pond and the homes foundation as to whether it works or not. I have labels everywhere, but you have to look under the plants to see them. Visitors find them helpful rather than patronizing, I suppose because garden visitors here are less knowledgeable (generally) than in the UK.

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    1. "not everyone wants to push the envelope"...so true, just the crazy ones.

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  10. I like the layout of this garden and love dense plantings but think that some more big leaved plants would contrast nicely with the many fine leaved plants. As for labels in private gardens, I'm not a fan but have started burying the plastic labels just beneath the soil surface so that if I forget the name of something, I can refresh my feeble memory.

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    1. How do you know where exactly it is? I think someone who lived here did the same thing because I sometimes uncover an old label when I'm digging.

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  11. Whenever there are boulders, I am enthralled. The island raised bed with boulders reminds me of the conifer garden at the Oregon Garden. How well do you know your neighbors with the two-tone backside? They never see it, so I can't imagine why they would object to you painting it a color that enhances your space.

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    1. One of the 2 homes behind us just sold, once the new neighbors are in and settled I plan on inquiring. I've already asked the guy who owns the brick red half and he seemed like it might be a possibility.

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  12. If I had a fantastic memory I would prefer no labels from an aesthetic perspective, but alas, this is not the case. I left some nursery labels on to remember the names, and only when I went to photograph them did I realise how bad it looked. So I have been considering purchasing something more discreet that I can write on and stick in to the ground/pot. I think it all depends on the type of label. I’m also going to test out the black and white photo thing!

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    1. I think you're on to something there, about photographing them showing their bad side. I know once I started blogging about other people's gardens that's when they really started jumping out at me.

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