Friday, January 6, 2017

Garden Visit! Greg Shepard of Xera Plants, at home...

Waaayyyy back in September Greg Shepard, co-owner of Xera Plants, invited a group over for a tour of his 4-yr old garden and an informal talk on low-water gardening. In his words: "This restricted urban space is designed to be a diverse, densely-planted ecosystem, with minimal summer irrigation. It also serves as one of the Xera test gardens, where our plants are evaluated for performance thru the long rainy season, as well as our bone-dry summers."

As I arrived people were already gathering in the back, so I snapped a few quick photos of the front garden before joining them.

I'd previously visited in 2014, things have really filled in! Arctostaphylos, Hebe, Euphorbia and Agave...oh my!

That's Greg there, in the brown hoodie and baseball cap. We've all moved out to the drive (no worries, I'll share photos of the back garden in a bit) and are admiring the huge Caesalpinia gilliesii (Yellow Bird Of Paradise) against the house.

Greg was extremely generous with his knowledge and it was a great exchange of ideas between all who attended. I recall coming home afterwards and feeling like my garden was so empty (I know!). Greg does an amazing job of layering plants and completely covering the ground.

That mat-forming creeping cactus above is Maihuenia poeppigii. It's joined by several Euphorbia rigida and Agave bracteosa. Below center is Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam'.

I hope mine will grow up to look like this someday.

Greg gave us all plant lists, and had I posted sooner after the visit I just might have remembered which Arctostaphylos this is. There are 9 different ones listed, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess this is Arctostaphylos silvicola 'Ghostly'... (Greg confirmed, it is)...

Guessing again, I believe the grass in front is Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'.

And the tiny Agave is A. toumeyana.

The third image of, basically, the same scene. Because it's just that beautiful! Greg certainly understands the importance of a limited color palette.

He mentioned "following the rules" (even if they were only self-imposed rules) and his desire to avoid a "garden where you plant everything you like and it becomes crazy in four years" (funny, he managed to say that without casting a knowing glance my way).

Juniperus communis 'Hoodview'

Yucca harrimaniae x nana

Maybe Arctostaphylos manzanita 'St. Helena'? Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths'

House, what house?

Grevillea australis 'Prostrata' (???) Callistemon pityoides 'Mt. Kosciusko' (thanks Greg)

Muehlenbeckia ephedroides

And this, the hellstrip. The most heavenly hellstrip EVER!

Yucca linearifolia

**sigh**

I wish I lived across from Greg and his partner Christian, can you imagine getting to see this everyday? (plus they're super nice guys too)...

Okay, heading back around for a look at the back garden.

But first! Hakea epiglottis on the left, with Opuntia ellisiana.

Back garden!

I'm even less sure of the plant ID out here. I believe the tall silvery guy with the brown bits is Ozothamnus 'Sussex Silver'.

Against the house I believe that's a pair of Mahonia eurybracteata silver on the left, Pittosporum illicioides in the middle, and a short Mahonia fortunei to its right.

Melianthus major

Pachystegia insignis, mine is still in a container. Maybe I'll be brave enough to finally put it in the ground this spring.

Figs! (Ficus carica 'Petite Nigra')

Along the back fence...Azara microphylla on the far right.

Arctostaphylos silvicola 'Ghostly' (again)...

And this one. I've believe it's Pittosporum tobira...

I thought this was a genius way to add a trellis without attaching to the existing fence. Add your own (rustic) boards in front and attach to them.

I must also include a couple of links where you can see more of Greg's garden. First of all my friend Kate Bryant wrote an excellent story which appears in this month's Portland Monthly magazine, that's here. And my friend Anna, who was there with me that morning, put together a drool worthy blog post here.

Thank you Greg for an amazing morning in your garden! Now when does the Xera shop open for the season??? (word is Thursday, February 9th — assuming this insane winter lets go of us before then)

Weather Diary, January 5: Hi 35, Low 17 / Precip 0

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

33 comments:

  1. What a fantastic garden! And unlike some PNW gardens, there are MANY plants I could grow as well.

    I'd love to have the discipline to limit my color palette, but my interests are just so wide-spread that I'm not able to pull it off (yet).

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    1. Did you visit Xera when you were in Portland either for the Fling or with the family? If not you've got to the next time you're here. Spring plant sale is Sat Apr 15 and Sun Apr 16:
      http://www.hardyplantsociety.org/hortlandia

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  2. What a lovely garden! These should work in Phoenix mostly right?

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    1. Hmm...I'm not sure! I wish I could say for sure...your weather is so different from ours.

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  3. That skinny Yucca in the hellstrip is just gorgeous. Looking at his garden you realize how effective it is to limit the color palette.

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    1. Limit and also repeat. There is so little "just green"...it's magic!

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  4. A terrific garden! "a garden where you plant everything you like and it becomes crazy in four years" Oops. Not dragging home every plant that catches one's eye is a good skill to have. Wish I had it. My garden is full but you can bet your boots that I'll be at the HPSO sale in April. Crazy. Greg is truly a wonderful guy and it's reflected in his garden.

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    1. You wouldn't be you if you stuck to a refined palette. Don't go changing.

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  5. Having a place like this is like heaven! Absolutely beautiful. I couldn't get enough of looking through the pictures. Thank you so much!

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  6. The men behind Xera are fabulous gardeners themselves. Thanks for this peek behind the scenes.

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    1. I'm dreaming of a new gardening season ahead, as the flakes start to fall...(snow that is)...

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  7. Oh, those three Yucca linearifolia! I planted one this fall and now I'm wondering if one was enough. That creeping cactus is cool. I forget the name of that fern in your last pic. I have one little one in a tiny pot, but it has yet to bulk up like that. Maybe I just need to plant four of them together in a bigger pot. I saw Greg's garden in person a couple of years ago on the Albertina Kerr tour, I think. So wonderful.

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    1. You need at least 3 Alison! ;) Patricia has the creeping cactus too, and it looks great. Mine are just ever so slightly larger than when I planted them, several years ago.

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  8. I am hoping to get up to Portland this summer, and Xera will be a plant shopping must, for there is always plant shopping while in Portland.

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    1. Always! Hope you let me know you're coming so we can get together.

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  9. Thanks for posting your photos of this garden! Loved just about everything about the plant pallette: the low water look, the juxtaposed foliage, the spiky wild look. Loved it. Must....steal....all...these ideas!

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    1. Too bad you aren't closer Dave and you could shop Xera for those plants.

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  10. Great garden. I like the sense of fullness. Interesting to see him using Little Bluestem, which I don't think of as a PNW plant.

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  11. Beautiful with lots to learn -- my favorite kind of garden. I need to get my Yucca linearifolia in the ground, somewhere, somehow, and that fence/trellis hack is the perfect solution to harness a passiflora. Shrubby and spiky, just how I like my gardens!

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  12. I wish I had that kind of discipline. I'm slowly and only semi-successfully moving out of my "love it, now where do I put it?" mode.

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  13. Yucca linearifolia... WANT! ;-) What a lot of beautiful plants, beautifully combined. Thanks for giving us the mini tour!

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  14. Man, thank you thank you Loree..I needed that! Greg and Christian's garden is what I look back to more than any other to model my own after. Love it all.

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  15. Oh my gosh, I love that place! I would love to see it in person--lucky you! And that trellis idea--I may need to borrow it! Genius!

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  16. I love the effect of almost everything, but the front yard (at least in a view that excludes those fabulous Yucca linearifolias) is a little too shapeess-scrubby-dry-plant-reaching-upward for me. If that big shaggy grey shrubby mass left of the steps were replaced with something broad-leafed or architectural...

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    1. I think that's a short-coming of my photos. If you could take it all in "in real life" I think you'd feel different.

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  17. The colors of the foliage are so beautiful it makes the paint color on the house look quite blah--but perhaps it was the cloudy day? Ah, love the silvery Arctostaphylos, and a bit of a painful reminder my gorgeous Y. linearifolia went and died on me. Have not seen another for sale.

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    1. I've meant to ask Greg if the house color was a choice, or if he just hasn't gotten around to painting. Thanks for the reminder!

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  18. Thanks also for the pointers to the other photos and discussions of this absorbing garden.

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  19. Wait. I thought the rule was just "a garden where you plant everything you like and it becomes crazy in four years" - or less.
    Gorgeous garden and thanks for sharing another visit. I loved it the first time and more now. As most have commented, the Y. linearifolia steal the show. Mine is showing a little burn on the youngest leaves, but they should grow out quickly come summer. I saw one at the Plant Delights gardens in Raleigh that was about four feet tall, maybe more. Crazy and wonderful.

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    1. That's certainly the rule I've been gardening by, although the crazy is definitely getting knocked back by our winter. The only Y. linearifolia that I've ever grown up and died almost immediately. I am determined to try again, if I could ever actually find a couple for sale.

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  20. Greg has a great garden. Paul B said I would have really enjoyed it while I was there. Its interesting seeing some of the same plants growing there and here in Denver, they are a bit tighter and more gray.

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