Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Portland Garden of Ketzel Levine

If you're a fellow Garden Blogger think back to when you hit *publish* on that first blog post. Did anyone read it? Anyone besides your mom and your best friend that is? When did you get your first "real" comment? Can you remember? I do. It was on my 8th blog post, where I outed myself as a Flax Addict. Portland had just experienced it's first PKW (Phormium Killing Winter) — there would be more — and I'd just bought replacement plants and was very excited about it. Ketzel Levine commented: "Takes a lot of guts to come out in favor of flax after just about EVERY FLAX IN PORTLAND bit the dust this winter! I admire your tenacity since I'm still recovering from the loss and wondering whether to revisit that heartbreaker again."

One of the first garden blogs I read was her's. Memory says she kept on blogging after being laid off from NPR. Of course I can't find that blog now, it's off in the internet archives somewhere. I also remember seeing a few online tours of her garden, like this one from Garden Rant and this one from Sunset. You'd think with all the open gardens I've toured here in Portland I would have visited hers by now, right? Nope. Not until a week ago when my friend Ann was house/dog sitting and invited me over. Just like Susan from Garden Rant (link above) I toured Ketzel's garden without Ketzel...

No worries, I did check with her (via email) to make sure I could share photos. She generously said yes.

Oh look, it's that Monarda macrantha I lost last winter. I wonder if her's wintered over in the container? I'm guessing no, since that succulent in the center isn't hardy here in Portland.

Here's the generously sized gate from which you enter the front garden.

And this area is just to the north (on the left as you enter). We previously saw the home's front porch which is directly ahead of the gate.

I absolutely love the mixed material hardscape.

Love it.

And the fact the colors are very consistent throughout her garden.

Looking back on Keeyla Meadows garden in San Francisco — which you'd think would have sent me running, but didn't — it's that consistency of color palette that let's my brain take it all in without seeing lots of big bright exclamation points. Does that make sense?

Ah...a Daphniphyllum!

Big leaves, blue sky.

I really should know what this small tree is. I've admired it's bumpy bark (and Azara-like leaves) before. Anyone?

The purply-pink flowers in the background (above) do not belong to the tree, but rather a Clematis.

We've stepped though another gate and are now in the side garden. The fact garden tools are being hung out in the open, yet decoratively, hints at how small this space is.

Then there's this. Yep, Magnolia figo. Ann posting about this tree set off a chain reaction of events that had me at Cistus Nursery (after the fern-table class at Joy Creek) eyeing one to possibly buy for my very own. I passed it up. It was VERY difficult but the right choice. I've got no space for a large plant that is fairly unremarkable until it blooms. But when it blooms....oh my but I wish you could smell this flower. It's insane....

As is this wall. It's the backside of a next door business (or maybe their parking?) but Ketzel is using so darn well...

Subtle stripes that pick up the color of the bark...(maybe a Stewartia? or perhaps a Franklinia?)...

And this (!)...

The only regret I have about my visit is that the lighting (bright afternoon sunshine) made getting good photos of the fountain wall nearly impossible.

It really is spectacular.

Seeing this sculpture brought back memories of my visit to Marcia Donahue's garden (also when she wasn't at home)...

Don't worry, I'm almost ready to point my camera elsewhere...

Almost...

On to the narrow space at the back of the house, and it's Itea ilicifolia.

And a great collection of old bird houses, this one with other animals too...

Okay, this magical visit is coming to an end...

Back out on the street I finally noticed the Eucalyptus. How did I miss it when I was on the inside of the fence?

Weather Diary, July 12: Hi 82, Low 55/ Precip 0

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

40 comments:

  1. Is that a Gunnera in the pond? It looks beautiful! I want it!

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    1. It is! So lush and tropical in appearance.

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  2. That is one fabulous garden. I like all her pots and ornaments which I am really picky about. I think it is as you said, consistency and nothing too bright.

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    1. I feel lucky to have been able to see it, and share it with you all!

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  3. I LOVE that water feature, both of us are cooing over it. Really lovely garden as well, very inspiring. And isn't it so nice to have that connection, harking back to when you just got into blogging? :)

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  4. The whole post could have been pictures of the fountain, and it would still be awesome. The subtle stripe wall also awesome. Paint job on the house, as well.

    Most excellent garden!

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    1. I'd go so far as to say the whole post could have been a single photo of the fountain and it would still be awesome. :)

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    2. Glad you enjoyed Hoov, and just if it was the right photo Alan. I wish I could have gotten that "right" photo.

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  5. Fabulous water feature with the Marcia Donahue bamboo art. I love it all, in fact. Thanks for taking us along on the visit.

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  6. I do love that fountain! I get what you're saying about color consistency too. I'm struggling with that issue in my own garden at the moment - the color clashes are more evident (annoying) in summer.

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    1. I'm sure your bright summer sun helps to amp up the colors too. I remember finding the perfect shade of green on a building in Phoenix. I'd been hunting for quiet awhile for just the right color to paint my house in Spokane. I took a sample home and was shocked at how different the color appeared in my more northern light.

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  7. The best thing about small garden spaces: they usually have great walls to work with (or at least normal walls that could be made great). Love this garden!

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    1. I've got small space wall envy...

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  8. Great garden and I totally get the color thing. Are those Little and Lewis columns and pots? Lots of great plants and art & like everyone else, I love the fountain!

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    1. They very well could be, I should have asked her when I emailed.

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  9. There are just so many fabulous personal gardens in Portland, sigh. I loved Ketzel's stories on NPR. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. City of gardens...that's what one friend things Portland's city motto should be.

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  10. I still have Ketzel's book somewhere on my shelves. Nice to see her garden. That Eucalyptus must be really tough given that I can't see any winter damage on it. Nice tour. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Good point about the Eucalyptus, I did see a few around town that never recovered from their winter damage.

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  11. Intensely fabulous! That fountain ! The house paint ! I listened to Ketzels show on NPR religiously every week . I had completely forgotten about her long lost blog.It seems like I recall her going off to South America or some such after she left NPR.

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    1. Yes, I believe she was off working with stray dogs, trying to find them homes. Her love of plants seems to only be eclipsed by her love of animals.

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  12. That garden has personality! I really like the mixed paths and hardscaping--that's a personal goal for me in my next garden: to add paths and more non-lawn areas. I think you got great photos of the fountains--especially from the side. Lovely!

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    1. Thanks Beth, it's hard when your eyes see something so much better than your camera can capture.

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  13. Azara-like shrub is likely an Ulmus parvifolia cultivar. I love her Lomatia. I hope my baby one looks that good some day, I peek at from the sidewalk every time I walk by!

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    1. Thanks for the Ulmus parvifolia ID, and yes! That Lomatia!! I could not for the life of me think of what that was, even though it was so familiar. Thank you!

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  14. Very interesting history you have here with this garden and this gardener, as a long-time admirer from afar. The shoe's usually on the other foot: nearly every blawgging plant person I hold in esteem has been influenced by the Danger Garden, even if they've never seen it up close. Nice to see how you've developed your own style -- as a gardener, collector, and a blogger -- in light of being introduced to one of your early inspirations. Thanks for this, Loree.

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    1. What a lovely comment Saurs, thank you.

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  15. Ketzel, Have been wondering how your stack has been holding up, and if still even visible in your landscape. Recent Sunset reprint has turned up a few people interested, alas, a lot less time in the studio these days.
    Happy July and give your sister a hug for me next time you see her.
    Cynthia Spencer

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    1. Hope Ketzel sees this, cause ya know this isn't her blog...right?

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  16. What a trifecta, the house-sitting Ann, you, and Ketzel, making possible this post on a wonderful garden. Thank you!

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  17. Wow, what a fabulous garden. I love her containers. I remember Ketzel Levine from her NPR days. How exciting it must have been to find her commenting on one of your first posts. I felt the same when I got a comment from the garden writer Allen Lacy (remember him?).

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    1. How fun! (your comment memory)

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  18. Loree, I'm so glad you finally had a chance to visit that beautiful garden in your city full of them; and thanks very much for sharing it here. [Especially because the photos in the Garden Rant post are currently un-visible.]

    I can imagine how encouraging it was as a new blogger to find a well-known gardener was among your readers. My one online interaction with KL has stayed with me for a long time as well. Her dismissive, belittling response to a politely offered correction made me a permanent non-fan. But her garden is lovely.

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    1. If you're really curious about the Garden Rant photos click on each one separately, they open that way.

      As for your interaction that's unfortunate. I hope I've not come across that way to anyone with my online interactions. I fear it's inevitable though. So much of the subtlety of human interaction is completely lost when it's only the typed word.

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    2. Thanks for the tip on the GR photos. From the Sunset link, since a couple of commenters have mentioned the house colors: "Ketzel hired her friend Nani Waddoups to consult on the colors." The Sunset link also gives a good sense of the 'bones' of the entrance, and KL's brilliance with paving and space division.

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  19. Glad I remembered to read this in my weekend blog reads...really stunning use of textures and paint colors. Then there's that plinth / large bowl and the plantings all in it...wow! My guess on the white flowers on the climbing plant - Trachelospermum jasminoides...seems that would grow there?

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  20. Fun tour of a garden of so much interest to you (and us). Great plants, I especially noticed those pathways. Inspiration. Clearly I've been doing the pebble thing all wrong by trying to put them in narrow spaces between the pathway stones. It wasn't working and now I know why.

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