Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Garden of Jeffrey Bale

It was with anticipation and curiosity that I visited the garden of Jeffrey Bale here in Portland. I've seen several photos and imagined it to be a densely planted, colorful oasis. But truth be told, I was also a little apprehensive.

This garden was on tour last summer and I heard from many people who were disappointed. I was not, disappointed.

I visited on a rainy afternoon in May, which I think might just be the perfect time. The foliage was lush and dripping, the rocks extra colorful. Last summer's tour was in August after a long, hot, dry summer.

This metal arch frames the entry.

Rusted metal acts as a screen from the neighbors yard as well as a nice backdrop.

Arachniodes simplicior ‘Variegata’ looks great against the rust, and in the rain.

On the opposite side of the entry...

Jeffrey owns two houses next door to each other, so the gardens kind of run together.

Fabulous hell-strip Yucca!

This is the path leading around to the back garden, unfortunately I cut off part of the snakes head!

I guess I should have explained that Mr. Bale is a mosaic artist, as well as a garden designer. He recently gave a talk for our local Hardy Plant Society. Since I've read his blog for awhile now I thought the talk would be a good one and it was. The images he shared were absolutely gorgeous, I could have sat there and listened to him talk of his travels and garden-making for hours. This blog post of his talks a little about his garden and some of the others he's worked on.

I honestly didn't think I would like this wall as much as I did.

I captured just an edge of the tub, on the far right. There is hot water available for cool weather bathing and a cover is placed over it to convert to a bed when the need arises. The gravel is covered with rugs when it's not raining.

There is so much to see...

Here in this garden, as when I visited the gardens of Shirley WattsKeeyla Meadows and Marcia Donahue, the extreme ornamentation doesn't detract from the garden...it is the garden. My negative feelings about "garden art" don't apply when what's on display is the work of the garden's creator.

I'm afraid that sounds horribly nonsensical and a little snobbish but there you have it.

I was lucky enough to see inside both houses too – and while there was a lot that I'd love to share – I'll limit it to just the creative tile work in this bathroom.

Pretty fabulous no?

Back out on the front porch it's time to bid farewell, and I must admit the layers of objects and strong colors had me worried my house and garden was going to feel mighty boring by comparison...

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

40 comments:

  1. Intricate, tidy and trippy.

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures of his garden while it was looking so lush and luxurious and moist (and not full of people). I think those are the conditions it is meant for, that show it off at its peak. After a hot, dry summer, and a long day of hot, crowded garden touring, not so much.

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    1. I believe he travels for most the summer too, so I imagine the garden was pretty much left to its own devices leading up to the tour.

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  3. So lucky to have seen it!! His garden and work is popular here too.

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  4. Fabulous, yes! What a special opportunity to tour this garden and share. Just seeing his work online, I know I'd love to see it in person too. I agree about garden art, it needs to reflect garden and gardener.

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    1. I was a little bummed that the rain kept our little party from being outdoors but in the end it all turned out perfectly.

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  5. Simple fabulous!!!! Much appreciation for the photos.

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  6. I'm so in love with this incredible and intimate garden and have been since first seeing pictures in the book "A Man's Garden." Jeffrey's incredible mosaic work is an inspiration. That wall...OMG, serious lust! It's a dream to someday see his garden and a fantasy to have Mr. Bale create something in my garden. Thanks for sharing this special place that you were lucky enough to see in person!

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    1. Oh Peter I hope you'll be able to see it in person too, I'll keep my ears to the ground and let you know if I hear anything.

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    2. I could always just call him and beg. A fan gushing about one's work is usually fairly flattering.

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  7. That's pretty much what I expect from PNW gardens: packed with so much you can't go wrong! I know moss grows quickly there, but it makes the garden feel ancient (in a good way).

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    1. I agree about the moss. Although when it dried up in the summer it can look ugly.

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  8. >>My negative feelings about "garden art" don't apply when what's on display is the work of the garden's creator.<<

    That sounds neither non-sensical nor snobbish. I know exactly what you mean.

    This is not a garden, it's a fantasy in a garden setting. I felt transported to a faraway land. What an experience! Thank you sharing it with us.

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    1. Yay! It sounds like my photos managed to convey the magic.

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  9. I like it. It's a one-of-a-kind, an artist's garden.

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  10. AnonymousMay 26, 2016

    And people were disappointed with this garden? Really? I think it's awesome, and I think I'd still be impressed even if I saw it on a hot August day. Laura

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    1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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  11. I knew I recognized the name when I saw the title of your post and those first mosaics confirmed it. The plants were wonderful and how I would love to have a mosaic path snaking its way through my own garden. thanks for the tour, Loree!

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  12. Jeffrey must be a fascinating fellow to meet. His mosaics are amazing and the moss indeed makes them look like they have been in place for centuries. I definitely wouldn't call this garden art, he has created another world!

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    1. Indeed, I felt very lucky to be there!

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  13. Wonderful...I've been curious about his garden for a while, thanks for the tour! And yours boring? Never. Just never.

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  14. I so totally wish I had come up with "intricate, tidy and trippy"! How about groovy? I have loved his stone mosaic paths forever, and have seen maybe a few photos of his garden, so this was really a treat to share in your tour. Oh, to have all of that rusty stuff in the garden. That entry way structure is amazing. And don't even get me started on that perfect bathroom mosaic. Wow.

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    1. I do wish our wooden fences were rusty metal walls, how amazing that would be.

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  15. I love a garden with a strong personality. This one certainly qualifies, but so does yours...so, no worries about being boring by comparison. Thanks for the inspirational tour!

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    1. Thanks Ricki, and you're right...a strong personality makes for an interesting garden...every time. Whether it's my personal style or not.

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  16. I couldn't live there but I'd love to visit. The tile and stonework is as impressive as it is creative.

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    1. Great way to put it. Indeed I've loved many a garden that I personally could not enjoy on a daily basis.

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  17. A wonderful garden and enticing garden.

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    1. Enticing...yes, it certainly is!

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  18. A garden that shows well in the rain is a well designed garden. I can imagine that a hot summer would have played havoc with the mosses which make it so enticing on a rainy day. I am always fascinated by artwork in a garden and the alcove wall reminds me of what fascinates me about visits to Asia. I can appreciate the talent for creating such a masterpiece. The pathways are delightful. It is all a feast for the eyes although maybe too much for some. I look on this kind of garden as a wonder to enjoy in the moment, and thank you for taking us there.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by (as always), glad you enjoyed it!

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  19. For some reason I have a soft spot for the combo of buddha + moss. Can't help but liking it. I also think that the great success here is that the plants meld so well together they are completely understated, it's just a perfect green oasis.

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    1. The plants do remain understated, even though there are a few stars there they aren't screaming too loudly.

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  20. Way cool! I love Jeffrey's pictures that he posts on FB, and it's always cool to see another perspective.

    And I don't care if it's snobbish, but I completely agree with you on the topic of garden art!

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