Monday, August 12, 2019

The garden of Richard Hartlage

One year (to the day) after I visited this garden, I'm finally sharing photos with you. This garden was one of four Seattle gardens I visited as part of the Northwest Horticultural Society meet the board tour last August.

The tour was very well organized, there were docents stationed at the crunch points in each garden. It was one of those docents who stated any photos taken in this garden were for personal use only, no social media! What? To make it worse nobody actually told me, I just heard her telling someone else, while I was taking a photo!

I was temped to do it anyway, but decided against it, being a good girl and all. However...

Fast forward to this year and the APLD (Assoc of Professional Landscape Designers) had their 2019 Design Conference in Seattle and the designers toured this garden during the event. Photos were all over social media...

I emailed the garden's owner, Richard Hartlage, and asked for the okay to share, pointing out they were already out there anyway. He said yes, so...these photos are officially approved for social media. Let's do it!

I loved this driftwood bowl filled with sempervivum on the front steps.

How do you feel about the house color? I love it, but really wish the window trim was painted the same dark color as the porch and steps. Or really any contrasting color, I find unnerving to have it all bleed together.

This simple, solid, metal fence lined the driveway and was repeated on all three sides of the back garden.

The back steps and deck...

Since shiny metal is my outdoor finish of choice I love it.

There were so many metal containers in this garden, I lost count.

Nice ground cover between the pavers...

Grace had just been taking photos of the inside of the chicken coup, I didn't venture over that way because there were a million people in the garden and I could barely move. I know it hasn't looked that way, yet (I'm good at avoiding people in my garden photos) but you just wait.

More fabulous containers, the owner is quite the collector...

Getting to the far corner to inspect those hanging orbs was no small achievement.

But I was rewarded by seeing these tall metal containers up close too, so it was worth it.

I would have liked the hanging orbs more without the labels...

The hanging pizza spatula plantings were interesting, I'm not sure I like them, I wish I would have gotten a close up.

Hahaha, yep, those are my feet, again. I think I was trying to show how closely we were packed (you can see two other people's feet), without actually aiming my camera at their faces.

Here's a better shot for showing that. It was single file as we worked our way along beside the water feature/pond.

It was a good looking pond though.

But that bit of rust, just beyond...

Those are what I couldn't wait to get over and see...

It's a crevice garden explosion!

Totally crazy, bizarre and cool.

There were two of them, with rocks arranged at different angles.

Crevice garden aficionados would point out all the reasons why these aren't real crevice gardens.

But I love the fact the rocks are up close and in your face—outlandish, eccentric peculiar—all the fun words work.

I wanted to linger longer at the crevice garden boxes but the line behind me was backing up and people were contemplating violence, so I had to move on...

Acer palmatum 'Peve Starfish', if I ever had to have an acer...

I wonder how old this patch is? Can't be too old, unless he pulls out bits to keep it contained, these guys love to spread (and I love them for that).

Working our way back out to the front garden now, and I'm amazed by the restraint! Why isn't there a vine growing on that fence?

I like the dramatic terracotta pots as an oddity, but I think I would quickly tire of them.

Senecio 'Angel Wings'

Excellent, unexpected, mash-up.

Front porch...

And back down the front steps...

Pausing to admire more lush sempervivum plantings on the way...

Weather Diary, Aug 11: Hi 76, Low 62/ Precip 0

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


  1. I'm so glad you finally got to share these photos. Taste-wise, it looks right up your alley. I just bought some new Sempervivums over the weekend, I was going to put them in the ground, but now I'm wondering if I should hold one kind back and put it in a container. Your mention of the people and your pictures of how squished together you were going around single-file gave me flashbacks to the Portland Study weekend four years ago and my experience at Floramagoria. I think I would have been very frustrated at not being able to walk all around that crevice garden-in-a-can.

    1. Yes! It was like Study Weekend at Floramagoria last time, for sure. Haha, "crevice garden-in-a-can" perfect, the only better descriptor is Eliza'a below.

  2. That is a phenomenal garden. Please thank Richard Hartlage for allowing you to share it. Yes, I do like the house color. It's daring, provocative, and unique, BUT I agree that the window trim should be painted a different color. I do like the pizza paddles. The entire garden is mouth-watering.

  3. So many interesting ideas, like that fence you want to see with vines -- I'd love to replace our wooden front fence with something similar. Looks like cattle panel welded to a metal frame? The creative energy here reminds me a lot of the Souza garden. Glad you got permission to share!

    1. You're right! There's definitely a common style thread between this garden and JJ's.

  4. I love that funky crevice garden but I have to say I hate the house color. Contrasting trim would have made it better but, much as I like a brightly colored wall here or there, I still couldn't live with a tomato-colored house, or a huge terracotta pot - both detract from the plants and the garden as a whole in my view. That new-or-me Acer is interesting and the 'Angel Wings' make beautiful accents.

    1. Thanks for sharing your opinions Kris, it's definitely NOT a house color for everyone. I remember how disgusted my parents were by a neighbor who painted their house purple. As a kid I loved it.

  5. Hmmm... this quirky crevice garden idea might finally be my chance to actually have a piece of one. I thought seriously about installing one in my Denver garden, but the deservedly high price made me realize I wouldn't be there long enough to truly enjoy the beauty. Now that I am ready to tackle my space in Tucson it might be worth another try. I've been planning on a rectangular corten steel container since I've always wanted one anyway... it's now or never. The big challenge will be to find plants that won't fry during our long, hot summers. Thanks Loree, this idea might be the fun I've been imagining!

    1. Have you seen Kenton Seth's photos of a crevice garden in a stock tank? I love that too, but if you can get yourself a corten steel one that would be amazing. I hope you get a chance to explore this idea further!

  6. I would have gone a bit claustrophobic if I was there, I think. I often wonder how owners feel about crowds passing through their private space. The most I've hosted is a dozen in my large yard and that was enough! ;)
    A very unique garden and I agree the house, a nice Chinese lacquer red, could benefit from a contrasting trim. But maybe that is just what we are used to. The crevice garden looked to me like a filled dumpster ready to be picked up, sorry! There were a lot of unusual things going on in that garden!

    1. Ya there's no way a few plants weren't trampled, there were so many low-growers and not everyone was careful moving about.

      "a filled dumpster ready to be picked up" quite literally had me laughing out loud with that one. It's true, they do!

  7. Wow, so much to process here ! That crevice garden volcano is very unique -I would have wanted to take so many photos-frustrating to be thwarted by the crowds. The diamond stamped steel steps ( and deck?) looks cool but all I could think of is how hot it would be to walk on barefoot in summer. And who doesn't need a Haws watering can to match ones house ?

    1. Good to know you're a fellow bare-footer...I wonder if the owners have ever made that error on a sunny day?

  8. Wow, wow, wow! The containers are awesome, and then the container crevice gardens--that's really special. I mean, that's just the start of what's noteworthy about this. The pond...amazing! Looks like Seattle is a great gardening destination. ;-)

    1. Yes it is, Seattle has so many great gardens!

  9. So many unusual things in this garden. I like the red, but I wouldn't dare apply it to my own home; maybe just the red watering can from the front porch... On one hand, I'd prefer the crevice garden to be on ground level, on the other hand, it must be great to pull weeds without kneeling or bending! The sempervivum in the driftwood is fantastic, totally drool worth.

    1. The elevated crevice gardens did have me thinking of the adaptive design we're seeing more of, for aging gardeners. Although I couldn't have reached many parts of the structure without a ladder!

  10. I love his house treatment; our trim is almost indistinguishable from our house body paint so I understand his thinking. Love his plants but find them overpowered by all his containers. But the Chihuly glass in his water garden is stunning. I was hoping that Senecio was a Hosta. Should have known better!

  11. I was struck by the many hostas in containers. Maybe that's a help where slugs are a big problem? I'm sure they're also special ones.

    It doesn't take many people to bring things to a standstill when a garden is so packed with interest, but I couldn't help wondering if NWHS board meetings are also unwieldy...

  12. So glad we finally got to see this gem of a garden. Crevice gardens in a box - just add water. Fun. I agree about the house. Windows are the eyes of the house; slap some eye liner on those peepers.


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