Friday, February 22, 2019

Touring the Seattle garden of Gillian Matthews

Last August I had the pleasure of touring Gillian Matthews' personal garden. If that name sounds familiar it's because she's the mastermind behind Ravenna Gardens, the fabulous garden shop at Seattle's U-Village.

If you're visiting the Northwest Flower & Garden Festaval this week at the Washington State Convention Center, there's also a Ravenna Gardens booth there, it's always a highlight and hence my scheduling. I thought now would be a great time to pay tribute to this inspiring lady and what she's created.

The occasion of my touring Gillian's garden was same the "NHS Meet the Board" tour that I visited Jason Jorgensen's garden on. I should have taken a photo of the line to get into Gillian's garden, it was substantial. At least we had a great hell-strip garden to admire while we waited...

If you detect an odd color to the light it's because it wasn't just overcast that day, there was a bit of smoke in the sky from various summer wildfires in Canada and around Washington state.

A reminder to myself that I need to grow Verbena bonariensis this year. Lots of it.

While waiting we were also able to take in the small front garden, since the line was up the driveway to enter the back garden.

Now I'm standing in the driveway and looking to my right out across the front garden (taking the last photo ^ I was standing on the public sidewalk).

On the front porch (the kind lady behind me in line was holding my spot)...

Looking back at the front door.

And down at the short path in front of me. I took that gravel jog to the left...

...and ended up here.

But now I'm headed into the back garden at last!

Looking back at where I just came from...

And wow...the back garden opens out in front of me...

I love this corner! Climbing to the top of the steel and gravel steps...

There is a dining area.

And plantings behind.

And to the side...

In fact there's an entire veggie garden up here!

Back down by the dining table I'm torn. Do I admire the plantings right in front of me, or check out the deck?

The plantings won. I mean just look at that carpet of Acaena inermis 'Purpurea'...

Eventually I made my way back down to the ground level and up the stairs onto the deck.

Where I could stare at the Acaena some more...

There were plenty of other fabulous plants, many of them in decorative pots. I gave them all their proper attention.

The angle is completely wrong, this photo was taken from up by the tomatoes in stock tanks, but since I didn't take one of the covered seating area as you approach from the deck, well, this will have to be a stand in. Pretend you're approaching from the right, by the dark-haired lady in the chair...

Oh well never mind, I scared both ladies off with my camera. All the better to photograph the plants though.

To the side of the deck were rusted metal rounds, planted.

It was all lovely.

It was however time to make my way out of the garden, so others waiting in line could come in.

Someone recently asked how I manage to photograph gardens without people in the shots. It's difficult! Of course since gardens are for people (or so I've read) I never worry about getting a few in the pics, but of course it's a balancing act. I want you to see the garden, not the other people visiting...



All material © 2009-2019 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

30 comments:

  1. Gillian's garden looks really interesting. I like her combination of containers -- some are modern, and some are rustic, but still they mix together well. Camille went on this same tour and shared some photos with me last summer, and I was really intrigued with the crossbar metal structure over the table with the orange chairs. It's so bare I've been trying to figure out if it has another purpose. Mainly because I've been trying to figure out whether I should get rid of the copper "Folly" in my front garden, and replace it with a more traditional wrought iron gazebo.

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    1. Yes, Gillian does the mix amazingly well, and I wish I would have bumped into Camille!

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  2. Wow, Loree. So many take away ideas here, and a meticulously groomed amazing space. I love the steps with the gravel and steel containment, the metal rounds, the arbor over the dining table and of course the plants. I think I'll spread my Acaena all over the place having seen it here. Thanks for the sunshine.

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    1. I'm dreaming of being half that successful with Acaena!

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  3. Nothing like visiting the garden of a cool, plant-savvy garden shop owner! And yet it's unified and cohesive by keeping to grey/brown/black for hardscape and pots with punches of orange. Plants really know how to preen against such a backdrop! I bought that acaena from Digging Dog some years ago, much to its regret...I think it prefers life north of Mendocino. Incredible to see it spread out when happy.

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    1. I remember my mouth falling open in disbelief when I saw that Acaena.

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  4. Obviously, magnificent and stylish garden, I'd expect nothing less. I do wonder how the gravel paths stay so pristine. Not a weed or a leaf out of place... freshly done for the open garden perhaps? I'm loving the Bonfire Begonia. What's the trick to overwintering those massive beauties?

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    1. Oh I"m sure there was tour prep done, wouldn't you? And I didn't think to ask Gillian about the begonia when I saw her at the show. I assume they're treated as annuals?

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  5. Masterfully done. Perfect balance of cool plants, great hardscape, and fab objects. Exactly what I'd expect from the mastermind behind Ravenna Gardens.

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    1. Right? It was kind of like shopping a much larger version of the store, except nothing was for sale.

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  6. I love how well curated this garden is. The hell strip alone is impressive - I'd be thrilled to have central garden beds that well pulled together. Right now I'm wondering where I can find rusted metal rings like those in the 5th and 6th photos from the bottom of your post as raccoon defenses.

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    1. I can't imagine how those rings would help against raccoons? You've got me curious...

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    2. Look for fire rings! I buy them at the feed store, but Tractor Supply sells them and I bet you can find them on Amazon.

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  7. Sublime! I wasn't really thinking about garden visits until seeing this. Now I'm rarin' to go.
    rickii

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    1. The first HPSO open must be coming up soon?

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  8. Excellent job getting those people-less photos. I like those steel risers with gravel steps. Best way I have seen that steel used. The abundance of plants and the size of many is just wonderful.

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    1. Thanks! It's all about waiting for just the right moment...

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  9. Kris is right about that hell strip. This is one serious garden. I was hooked at the house color and all that gravel. I think corten steel works with your light and plants better than it would do here.

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    1. Do you ever see Corten, or other rusted metal, around the Madison area?

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  10. I LOVE it. Those metal rounds - man, I have one or two, but I love the way she massed a bunch of them. And the crisp gravel and openness contrasted with mass plantings -- so nice. The vertical elements are great too, over both the elevated dining area and the arbor over the deck. Thanks for the tour!

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  11. Thanks for the inspiration shot-in-the-arm. The steel steps and gabion walls--just what the doctor ordered.

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  12. Thanks for the tour! As one might expect (judging from her shop) there were great contrasts, textures, and counterpoints! In my next garden I want level changes like that - they do wonders for spatial definition and room creation. Wonderful!

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    1. I still remember walking into our back garden and feeling how the lower "patio" level (then just lawn) made a huge difference in the space.

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  13. I've never seen a garden with orange used so perfectly, so few gardeners seem to adore that color as much as I do. The corten steel was a perfect fit, and those circles are just plain brilliant... the gabions just took me over the top. I guess I am all about hardscape these days as I am thinking about our new desert landscape. Her plantings are also extraordinary, and that hellstrip is way beyond my imagination! This post was just what I needed, Loree. Thanks!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it...and good for you for thinking about hardscape and not just plants, as this garden shows it's oh so important.

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  14. HI Loree,

    this is a lovely garden. Wondering if you would allow me to use a couple of the photos for a design class I am teaching?

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    1. Sure! Thanks for asking...please do mention danger garden and Gillian!

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    2. I will. thanks very much for allowing me to use your photos.

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