Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Gardener, a film

It was quite sometime ago that I made a note to watch The Gardener, a 2017 film about Frank Cabot—the founder of the Garden Conservancy—and his garden Les Quatre Vents, a twenty-acre English style garden and summer estate in Quebec. I finally made the time.

If you're curious, you can watch the trailer here, and the Garden Conservancy website lists multiple ways that you can watch the film, I watched on Amazon Prime. If you're looking for something to do this winter I recommend watching it yourself.

I do love listening to people talk about gardens and gardening—even if the garden being talked about is very different from those I typically enjoy—and there is a lot of that here. Equally interesting is talk about gardeners. In the film Penelope Hobhouse (British garden writer and designer, among other things) says this about Mr. Cabot..."I don't know what a genius really is, but very often geniuses are a little mad as well, and if he hadn't had a lot of money, you might have said he was."

Frank himself has this to say about visiting gardens: "I see visiting a garden as basically an emotional and sensual experience, as well as something that is filled with surprise." Very true. He also talks about how he prefers people not talk when visiting a garden, you should be focused on taking it all in. I can agree with that sentiment when visiting a public garden. However when visiting a private garden, well then talking with owner and other visitors is half the fun.

The French word "frisson" was thrown around quite a bit in the film, it translates to "thrill." I think it was Frank and Anne Cabot's son, Colin, who said "frisson of delight"... I think that's my new favorite phrase. To be reserved strictly for use when visiting gardens, of course. 

I was hoping there would be a bit about the founding of the Garden Conservancy, and finally at one hour and twelve minutes into the film Anne Cabot mentioned visiting Ruth Bancroft's garden, where the idea of the Conservancy began. They also showed a few photos of Ruth's garden, which were a relief for my eyes, after over an hour viewing clipped hedges and lawns, as lovely as they can be. 

Weather Diary, Dec 2: Hi 54, Low 44/ Precip 0 

All words © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Photos borrowed from The Gardener official website. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wednesday Vignette, circular

I stopped to admire the very defined growth rings on this piece of wood found river-side. It had me thinking of a highly stylized single-burner electric cook top. You know, if one just happened to be sitting along side a river. What do you see?

Weather Diary, Dec 1: Hi 51, Low 31/ Precip 0 

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum. All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Christine and Jim Mitchell's garden, 2020 Version

I received an email from Christine with the tantalizing subject line: Pups to give away. Now I know Christine's a dog-lover, but it just didn't seem in character for her to be giving away puppies. That could mean only one thing...agave pups! Because she's also an agave lover...

As excited as I was to get a few agave pups, I was even more excited to see the current iteration of Christine, and her husbands Jim's, garden. We visited last year, for the HPSO's Study Weekend (here) and then also back in 2015, for the Garden Conservancy's tour (here). It only gets better and better! Christine plants out these Agave americana 'Variegata' in the spring, and then lifts them in the fall, overwintering them undercover.

This elevated area is newly created, well, since my last visit. Christine says the blue chalk sticks will be sacrificed this winter. She's taken cuttings and propagated in previous years but is ready to let it go and start over, or not—we'll see.

As you've probably already figured out, Christine has a love for both agaves AND conifers, and she mixes them well.

Agave ovatitfolia...
Another look, pulled back for a wider shot. She's also pretty impressive with the opuntia...

These agaves become so much more because of the treatment Christine gives them. They're not winter hardy planted out in our climate, and left in containers they can't live up to their full potential. Sunk into the garden during the growing season and allowed to stretch their arms they really do shine.

All of these combinations are in the front garden, visible to people passing by. I wonder what they think? A lot of what's planted is not that unusual here in Portland—although it's all grown so well here it might not be recognizable—then you add in the agaves and POW! Something so different.

A couple more wide-shots...


And then we take a peek at Christine's over-wintering set-up. I love seeing how people care for their non-hardy container plants. 

These are all wheeled into an attached garage. Chris says the temperatures stay above freezing, but not significantly so. Oh and these planters, aren't they wonderful. They look like metal, to me at least, but they're pottery.

If you're wondering about light, what you see is what you get. There's a window, and if the garage door is open—as it is here—then more light, but otherwise these plants are allowed to go fairly dormant.

Just outside the garage were these big guys, waiting to be pulled under cover.

I'm not sure if they all went in, but at least a few did.

Let's take a quick look at the rest of the garden...

That big beauty is an Agave ovatifolia, the straight species not 'Frosty Blue'.

More Agave americana 'Variegata'...


In the front there is a nice big Agave bracteosa.

And of course Agave parryi...

Another pair...

If you're not an agave lover (what's wrong with you?) there's still a lot to appreciate in this garden. Like these tall tetrapanax...

And that sweet big-leaf rhododendron.
The stylish rebar and wood edging is to protect the plants from dogs and grandchildren.

A very large tree was recently taken down, if I remember correctly that's part of it there. I'm sure Christine and Jim have something creative in mind.

I said how much I appreciated the look of the ferns tucked in at the base of this short retaining wall. Christine laughed... I think they were actually planted by mother nature.

Ground covers above the wall...

And now just a few more photos from the front garden as I take my exit...


Oh and yes, in case you were wondering, there were agave pups. Here they are all loaded up and headed home...

Weather Diary, Nov 30: Hi 52, Low 32/ Precip .22" 

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Mail-order plants from Far Reaches Farm, in November!

On November 11th I watched an NHS presentation by Kelly Dodson & Sue Milliken of Far Reaches Farm on a collecting trip they did to Argentina last spring. One week later, on November 18th I was the proud owner of a couple of the plants they talked about that night ...ain't life grand in this internet age?

I ordered three plants, look at them all cozied up in the box.
The first one I pulled out is this treasure...Alstroemeria isabellana.
Readers with amazing memoires might be saying, but don't you already have that plant? Yes, I did. I scored it from these same folks when they came down to give a talk at Joy Creek Nursery back in, oh, 2012 it looks like.

I loved that plant for years, but it eventually disappeared. Too much shade and competition from other plants, I suspect. And it's not just one you can dig up and move, it kinda moves around on it's own. I was never sure where it would come up each year, and if a stem would just be foliage, or if it would be a floral producer (they're on separate stems). I'll be thinking long and hard about where to plant this one out in the spring, and of course dreaming of seeing these flowers again...

My other purchase—two of the same plant—stayed within the Alstroemeriaceae family. 

I got two Bomarea cf. edulis, from seed Kelly and Sue collected on the trip the presentation I watched was based on. 

These are quite healthy looking plants, especially considering my one bomarea here in the garden has already died down for the year.

Mail-ordering plants is something I rarely do, thanks to the wealth of local nurseries here in the Portland area. However, the prospect of scoring a couple more bomarea vines—ones with blooms like these—had me rushing to my computer to place that order.



Photo above and below credited to James Steakley via wikimedia.

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

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Parthenocissus quinquefolia, with spots

The leaves have all fallen now, but before they did I really enjoyed these strange chartreuse polkadots on the colored-up Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) leaves...

I think this may have happened in the past? It seems vaguely familiar.

But then again, maybe not.

I have no idea what's caused the dots.

There's also that interesting shadow (photo paper) sort of thing happening. Very bizarre eh?

Weather Diary, Nov 26: Hi 50, Low 42/ Precip 0 

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.