Thursday, July 5, 2018

Touring Thornhurst

New blogger and all around great guy, Dale Hickey (blog here), recently invited us Portland GB'ers to tour Thornhurst, the garden of Phil and Barb Thornburg and the de facto display garden for Winterbloom, a landscape design and installation company (for whom Dale works). That lovely speciman is Lagerstroemeria ‘Tuskeegee’...

Phil immediately apologized that I would find no "dangerous plants" in the garden, but right behind him was this Agave bracteosa. Granted it's spineless, but still, points for having an Agave!

And I'd count the garden swallowing Romneya coulteri as dangerous too, anything that can bury the rest of your garden in a season or two definitely qualifies.

Dwarf Alstroemeria, who knew? Evidently the "princess series" are all bred to be short.

Looking back towards the front door...

Before walking through this fantastic gate, ino the back garden.

Details, details, details!

Now I'm standing in the center patch of lawn and looking up at the deck. Phil mentioned he'd wanted to build a tree-house, but realizing how impractical they are, he instead planted a tree (Claradendrum trichototum) to surround the deck.
Kniphofia thompsonii var ‘Snowdenii’ and Hedychium.

The border opposite the deck.

Looks like a big bouquet, but actually a plant! (Lilium 'Conca D'Or' — I think)

Initially I only spotted a pair of pink flamingos, and they were separated by some distance. Thankfully as I worked my way around the garden I discovered there were more. We can't have lonely flamingos.

This creative thing made the most amazing music. At first we all just stood there looking at it. Finally I decided it must do something, so I pulled out one of the sticks in the center and hit one of the raised pieces. It was like that xylophone you had as a kid, only better.

Nearby was this container of balls. I couldn't help but think that was taking "garden art" to a questionable low. Later I learned there are grand-kids who regularly visit this garden, and as kids do, they liked to through rocks. The balls were put in place as a gentler object to throw, plus I'd imagine they're easy to find in the landscape (genius).

Another flamingo!
And another (two)!

Around noon we were all invited up to the deck where Barb had prepared some amazing lunch-time treats. I wish I had taken a photo, not only were they tasty but they were beautiful too. As we chatted, Phil mentioned he grew up in Africa and I later found this snippet on the Winterbloom website: "Phil Thornburg grew up in the densely populated country of Burundi, Africa where there were few places one could go to be alone. There were some small hiding places, however, along the hills and valleys where he could gain some solace. By arranging rocks, bushes, vines and pieces of wood, he would create a simple sanctuary… a retreat where he could observe the beauty and drama of creation without being noticed. He found that his friends also enjoyed these places." Isn't that wonderful?

After walking through the dense plantings near the stream, Trachycarpus and Magnolia — at the edge of the lawn — you emerge into a sunny vegetable garden.

Creative re-use of cut palm fronds!

Trachycarpus petioles as garden stakes. I am stealing this idea...

If you'd told me, prior to this visit, that I would condone the use of old tires in the garden I would have laughed. But here they look good (as good as can be expected) and must provide a nice dose of heat to get those tomatoes going in our (sometimes) cool springs.

The red supports are a great shape too, thin to allow for maximum use of space (no matter how many times I tried I could not take this shot without getting myself in the photo!).

Bees, bees, bees — they were all over the Hypericum hookeranium.

I forgot to ask Phil if they get fruit on their Acca sellowiana.

You probably saw the greenhouse in the tomato-tire shot, above. Well behind the greenhouse is a shade house. Oh the luxury!

Finally, I was terribly enchanted with this Clematis, allowed to drape over the parked wheelbarrows.

I think it's C. ‘Snow Queen’. Thanks Phil, Barb and Dale for a wonderful afternoon in your garden...

Weather Diary, July 4: Hi 85, Low 59/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Was Dale the young guy at the Plant Swap that I didn't recognize? There was quite a crowd this year and I didn't introduce myself. What a cool garden, love that Clematis. That huge Lily clump is gorgeous too. It looks a lot like one I have called Saltarello.

    1. No, Dale just started his blog and wasn't invited to the spring swap. You've got me really curious about who the young guy was though. You know Evan, and Lance isn't young (sorry Lance). Oh! Derek, I bet it was Derek.

  2. Thanks for taking us along, a lovely garden well planted and great use of space. Clever idea to build a deck then plant a tree adjacent to it, you kind of eventually get a tree house look.

    1. It did feel very tree-house like, sitting up there.

  3. What a beautiful garden, especially the scale and proportion of the plantings. And that lily clump functions so well because of the size of its neighbors - something I need to work on.

    1. I just wish my lilies would multiply, instead of shrinking.

  4. I love this garden (even with the noticeably limited agave collection)! I must find one of those music makers.

    1. You know I'm not a fan of "garden art"...but it really was quite cool.

  5. Dale's childhood story is so cool; he was a gardener even then! How nice of him to invite bloggers to see this special garden full of great ideas.

    1. That was Phil, but yes, very nice of both of them!

  6. What a great garden - it feels very 'real' - not simply a showpiece, but a lived in space.

  7. What a wonderful Post and thank you for coming to the event.
    May I post a link to this blog on the Winterbloom site?

    1. Yes of course! And thanks again for putting it together.

  8. Fantastic gate, great garden. 'Snow Queen' is a beauty.

  9. It was so enjoyable to have all you Garden Bloggers here to share food with us and some time discussing the beauty of textures, colors, genus/species of plants and so on. I really appreciated experiencing ThornHurst through your eyes in this Blog. Thank you for your kindness!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!