Thursday, September 26, 2019

Christine and Jim Mitchell's garden, a stop on the HPSO Study Weekend

This was my second visit to Christine and Jim Mitchell's garden, the first was on a very smoky day in 2015 when a few of us garden bloggers visited on preview for the HPSO/Garden Conservancy tour.

The reason for this latest visit was the HPSO Study Weekend, held the last weekend in June. The garden was even better than I remembered it. And it's not just because there were agaves...

The photographer with the lily where his head should be (to the right) was an accidental capture. I couldn't have done that on purpose no matter how heard I tried.

This 1/3 acre garden sites on a corner lot, from our handout: "plants in this garden are selected for foliage—color, shape, texture and multi-season impact" wonder I feel at home here! Abies concolor I believe...

Robinia pseudoacacia 'Twisty Baby', a tree I really wish I had room for.

Chris does lift the many Agave americana 'Variegata' planted throughout the garden, they simply will not make it through our winters. She over winters them in her garage and since they're dormant there's no need for strong lights or water, just a little heat to keep them from freezing.

Late June is lily season, so many of the gardens we toured during Study Weekend smelled wonderful.

Rhododendron basilicum

Rhododendron 'I Wish I Knew" (do you?) *update* Chris says this one is Teddy Bear Yakushimanum Rhododendron...

Now we've stepped into the back garden, the gunnera are kept happy in a stock tank.

More from the handout: "in the backyard garden, there are two brick patios for entertaining, multiple trellises covered with clematis and hops (used by the resident home brewer), and stone paths created for exploration by grandchildren and an energetic border collie."

I thought the wood and rebar "fence" was genus for keeping the grandchildren and border collie out of the various plantings.

So minimal as to not distract from the plants...

But significant enough to stop two or four legged creatures.

Dryopteris sieboldii, on the far left.

Mahonia confusa 'Narihira', a Dan Hinkley/Monrovia introduction

Rhododendron 'Everred' (or 'Ever Red', depending on who you go pay attention to).

Chris has put together quite a collection of succulents. Many of them potted...

And some of them in the ground.

The dried packing material—we called that excelsior back in my retail days, or maybe it's actually Spanish moss?—hides the nursery pot the agave is planted in. Just dropping it in the glazed container makes moving it, when the weather turns, much easier.

I believe these all stay in place.

Agave parryi and A. bracteosa.

But that tall guy on the right is lifted and taken indoors.

That's a very happy opuntia, with all that new growth (the bright green pads).

Blooms too!

A few more shots looking around the "desert corner"...

Acanthus senni

The collection really has grown since I was here last!

Which maybe why Chris had filled this wagon with agaves for visitors to take as they left the garden. Wasn't that nice?

Weather Diary, Sept 18: Hi 73, Low 55/ Precip 0

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


  1. So, did you take an Agave? What a wonderful garden, right up your alley. I wish I knew what that Rhodie was too. I saw some great powder-covered Rhodies this year on NPA garden tours, and it's given me a bug to get some planted in my own garden. If I can just find the right ones, or figure out what they are. Great use of excelsior too.

    1. Yes, a darling Agave lophantha splendida, plus Chris had a dyckia set aside she no longer wanted and sent home with me. Oh and she emailed yesterday with the name of the Rhododendron too: Teddy Bear Yakushimanum Rhododendron

  2. Nice layout with some unusual specimens; I love the rosy, big-leaved Kalanchoe (?) especially.

  3. "Smokeless" was the first good thing about this visit (compared with the last).
    I was happy to spot a fine looking Hebe James Sterling in the front garden, but of course its the shady garden in the back where I start to swoon. The small "Evered" Rhododendron caught my attention: lovely chocolate color. Added to the list of plants that I need to research.

    1. There are so many choice plants in this garden, all grown so well.

  4. How can you end the post like that without saying whether you took an agave with you?! There were a lot of great plants there, although I can't imagine moving all those succulents for the winter even though I've seen the steps you take to do just that. I have to look into that Mahonia.

    1. See my reply to Alison above, I took an agave and was also given a dyckia!

  5. can you tell me what the yellow spiked flowering plant is in the 2nd picture please?

    1. I have an email into the garden owner asking. I'll post the name here if she sends it.

    2. Possibly Lysimachia 'Alexander'

    3. Chris says it's variegated Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia punctate)

  6. Went back to look at this all over again today. So many wonderful plants. Alas those Rhodies won't grow here, though I do have one R. yak.

    1. My mom up in Spokane has a similar issue. I remember her lusting after the Rhododendrons we saw on the west side of the state, but they wouldn't grow on the east side.


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