Thursday, November 30, 2017

North to Anderson School! (part one)

Yes, you've probably figured out I am a huge fan of McMenamins restaurants and hotels for the outstanding gardens around their properties. Instead of lawn and foundation plantings they spend money on beautiful and unusual plants, and hire knowledgeable and skilled people to care for them. One of those people, my friend Riz Reyes, is the master of the garden domain at McMenamins Anderson School, in Bothell, WA.

Anderson School (re)opened as a McMenamins in 2015 (it had previously been a Jr. High) and I've been dying to get up there and see it for myself. That finally happened on November 3rd. I'd timed my leaving Portland so I could trek the additional distance north from Seattle, little did I know a freak snowfall would slow my travels at Olympia, WA and again through Tacoma. I pulled into the parking lot late, but with two goals: see the "desert garden" and meet up with Riz. The fist one happened immediately.

And I was instantly smitten. When Peter (the Outlaw) visited in July this Agave Ovatifolia (Whale's Tongue Agave) was caged under the wine barrel rings, it's since been freed. Grown too big I'm guessing.

Can you even?

This means you Bozo!

Creative reuse is a theme at McMenamins and the wine barrel rings are definitely a successful decorative touch, I think. Spot the trio of 4" pots waiting to be planted?

A bit of Portland (Xera Plants) 200 miles north.

Notice the rain turning to sleet, verging on snow? I was not dressed for this kind of weather and was not entertained. Still I pushed on. Must see the garden!...

The Colletia was a highlight.

The thorns are normally the draw, for me at least. But the flowers were just so numerous you couldn't help but be transfixed.

Eryngium leavenworthii, gotta be painted that color right?

Nope, that's natural.

I should apologize for the fact these photos aren't really progressing through the desert garden in any sort of logical way.

I had a sort of frantic energy as I walked about and the snow/sleet/ice became heavier.

I wanted to see it all, but a freak winter storm can quickly turn a normal commute into complete gridlock in Western Washington/Oregon.

Part of me kept saying "but it's only early November, that can't possibly happen" and part of me kept thinking "you don't want to be stranded in Bothell when you're due back down in Seattle!"...

I kept snapping pictures...

I finally broke away from this bit of loveliness and toured the rest of the campus (more tomorrow), while simultaneously texting to meet up with Riz. Finally, when my fingers and toes were frozen, I gave up and met him inside the "North Shore Lagoon" — for a glass of wine (I had a glass of wine, Riz abstained) and a chat about what he'd created.

A little over an hour later we emerged to find the sleet/snow mixture had stopped, but many of the plants had a thin coat of ice on them.

Very dramatic...

If this was all there was to see here at Anderson School I would be impressed, but there's so much more to see, come back tomorrow for a look at the other gardens. Oh and I got back to Seattle just fine, no nightmare commute.

Weather Diary, Nov 29: Hi 52, Low 37/ Precip 0

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Leroy Setziol — stop, appreciate

I'm pretty sure I've walked by this huge installation wall, at the Schoolhouse Electric Showroom here in Portland, multiple times, yet I've never actually stopped to appreciate it. A slow tour with family — my husband, Andrew, is the Director of Operations at SHEC — over the holiday weekend had me finally doing so.

One could spent hours lost in the shapes and textures.

Staring at them, tracing them with you fingers (allowed since it's not hanging in a museum!).

Read more about Leroy Setzoil here and here.

If you're a local then plan a visit to see it in person before it's packed up and shipped off to Pittsburgh — you won't regret it.

Weather Diary, Nov 28: Hi 47 Low 44/ Precip .44"

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum. All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

All I want for Christmas is a trip to California, aka reviewing The California Garden Tour, by Donald Olson

I had written a glowing, if rather dry, review of Donald Olson's new book The California Garden Tour and scheduled it to post today. Then late yesterday afternoon I learned of Ruth Bancroft's passing on Sunday — at the amazing age of 109. I scrapped what I had written in favor of something rambling, but straight from the heart. I hope Mr. Olson won't mind.
photo borrowed from the Ruth Bancroft Garden Facebook page
I've had the pleasure of visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden three times, the most recent visit — in 2016 — was to attend a celebration of The Bold Dry Garden, a book on Ruth, and her garden, written by Johanna Silver (and also published by Timber Press). Ruth Bancroft herself was at the party and for a brief moment I was able to stand in front of her and thank her for her legacy.

I shared the garden's announcement of Ruth's passing on my Facebook page and thanked my friend Gerhard Bock for the part he played in my attending that event (finding my bargain airfare, picking me up at the airport, putting me up for the night and hauling me to the garden the next day). His reply "I'm so glad we went. A vivid reminder to make full use of the opportunities we're given" stands as a gentle nudge to us all, do it, just do it. Make the time to visit that garden you've been thinking about visiting, you never know what inspiration and life-altering magic you might find.

Mr Olson's book includes information on the 50 "best gardens" to see in the Golden State — since I've only seen 16 of them I still have a lot of work to do. His entry on the Ruth Bancroft Garden runs 6 pages long... "She'd always been interested in plants, but now had some earth to play with — the greatest joy for any gardener. She immediately set about creating a large English-style garden around the main farmhouse. Her plant palette at that time was a fairly traditional mix of roses, perennials, herbs, and bearded iris. And then in the 1950's she bought a potted aeonium. If you're a plant collector, you'll understand how buying an aeonium can change your life. Ruth Bancroft fell in love with succulents and started to collect and grow them in one-gallon pots in her lath house."

My initial post reviewing this book included links to what I'd written about the featured gardens I've visited, and a few of my photos, however I've chose to forgo listing them here (you can access the links in the California section of this page) and instead focus on Ruth Bancroft and share a bit of what Mr Olson wrote about another of my female California-garden-maker heros, Ganna Walska and her Lotusland: "...when it comes to garden as theater, garden as glamour, garden as diva, Lotusland stands alone. It's expensive to get in, and you need to reserve well in advance (only 13,500 visitors are allowed per year), but it's worth it because visiting Lotusland is a truly unforgettable experience."

He also goes on to detail Ms. Walska's six marriages and her over the top style. Money and the self professed "enemy of average" creating a garden, almost the polar opposite of Ruth Bancroft's style of planting 4" and 1-gallon containers so she could watch the plant grow. Still both woman were avid collectors and believed in fearless planting. I tried to track down any mention of Ruth and Ganna meeting, or visiting each other's gardens. I came up empty. I wonder if they would have appreciated each other's creations?

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Back to The California Garden Tour, I am delighted the good people of Timber Press sent me a copy of the book to review. While I have no current plans to visit California, I'm sure life will find me there again soon. And now I have detailed information on new (to me) gardens to visit, right at my fingertips. If you're interested in the book but would like to read a more traditional review please visit my friend Gerhard's blog Succulents and More, he reviewed the book just last Saturday and did a great job of capturing its strengths.

Weather Diary, Nov 26: Hi 50, Low 41/ Precip trace

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Back to the Garden Bloggers Fling and our stop at the garden of Peg Bier

Let's go back to last June's Garden Bloggers Fling shall we? Today we'll visit Peg Bier's garden in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

From our Fling itinerary: "Peg is a local gardening legend. In her words: “It is not the wow factor but the smile when some small discovery is made.  Tucked behind this roadside garden and somewhat secluded are a small waterfall, miniature plants and Fairy gardens where discovery and imagination are stimulated!

As you walk down the gravel driveway where all things love to seed, you are greeted by an overabundance of container gardens, pass through a weedy lawn (no chemicals) and beyond to the wooded area and pathways that lead to further discoveries.  Regardless of the time of year there is always something of interest that draws you on.

The garden has evolved according to the needs of the family, four children, their spouses and twelve grandchildren. It is a place to be, to reflect and a place to gather.  It was never intended to be a showplace or a display garden but a refuge for family, friends and visitors.”

There was definitely a sense of discovery as you walked through the garden.

Around every corner there was a stylish vignette or special plant.

I'm sure there were plenty of flowers, but it was also a foliage lover's paradise.

Such luscious Hosta leaves...

Autumn fern and ???...

Every inch planted.

There is a house too, which blended right into the garden.

I don't think I would have been able to resist the temptation to plant up the pockets in the driftwood. They're just too perfect.

This shrub captured my attention for quite awhile. I love green flowers and even though I was pretty sure these were the "after-flowers" I was still intrigued.

I asked everyone who passed by for ID, even hunted down Peg herself, I got nothing! Once home I took to the magic of Facebook and the PlantIdents group, had the answer almost immediately: Abelia mosanensis.

I eventually managed to move on, couldn't let a shrub mystery keep me from seeing the rest of the garden...

What great center-point. In my mind the entire garden radiated out from here. Of course that might only be true in my mind.

Surely Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata' (Variegated Shell Ginger) isn't hardy here? Yet a few tucked in the ground.

A fenced section of the garden, deer must be a problem?

I don't think I ever heard the actual size of this garden, obviously it's on the large side.

Somehow I managed to not take a photo of the sunken patio off the back of the house. You can just make out the steps on the left-side of this photo.

And a little more here.

That's a wrap on my coverage of Peg's fabulous garden. I still have a few Fling stops left to write about, and if you're thinking this "Fling" thing sounds like fun — it is! If you've write for an active blog there are a few spots left in Austin, TX, in May of 2018...

Weather Diary, Nov 29: Hi 55, Low 45/ Precip .56"

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