Friday, August 18, 2023

An agave blooms, in the Kuzma/Halme garden

Last weekend Andrew and I attended a summer celebration in the Kuzma/Halme garden. Longtime readers will recognize a few of these iconic shots, if not the name. After all I've been chronicling my visits to this garden for 12 years now. We start in the front garden...

Agave americana 'Yellow Ribbons' and an A. ovatifolia, standing tall above are a couple of arctostaphylos that I cannot ID.

Yucca rostrata

Doesn't this look like a family portrait?

We're in the back garden now, and appreciating just how big—and fantastic—the eucalyptus are.

Passiflora 'Fata Confetto'

Leucadendron argenteum, definitely not hardy here in Portland, but where there is a will, there is a way.

Of course I gave away the surprise in the title of this post, but look at that! A fifteen-year old Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' is doing it's end-of-life bloom.

The flowers were buzzing with activity and a hummingbird zipped in for a sip right after I took this shot.

A little orange flower-power that works well with the large pot in the distance.

Erythrostemon gilliesii, which I will always think of as Caesalpinia gilliesii.

Agave ovatifolia showing a little damage, but still commanding all the attention in this part of the garden.

There is new metal edging going in around the pathways and I think it looks fabulous. 

Of course it's hard to notice the edging with Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Theta’ pooling at the base of the trachycarpus and climbing their hairy trunks (I finally got around to borrowing this idea earlier this year, but it's going to be for ever before mine looks anything like this).

The fountain's cannas were blooming...

And the flowers were drawing the attention of the little ones in attendance. In all my years of visiting this garden this is the first time I've seen kids running through the plantings. 

On one hand it terrified me (the plants!), on the other hand how lucky are they to get to spend time in this botanic wonderland when they visit their grands! When one of the little ones misplaced his water, and was asking for another, he explained it this way: "I lost it in the forest!"

When I interviewed Sean Hogan (the garden's designer) for my book, Fearless Gardening, he referred to the large unplanted gravel rectangles in the front and back gardens as “enforced negative space” and pointed out they’re designed at a scale that relates to the house, "a sort of living room carpet just outside the front and back doors." 

I hope my fellow garden-party guests will forgive me for sharing this photo, but I loved seeing the "living room carpet" alive with people enjoying the garden on a summer evening.
I'll wrap with a shot of Andrew's wine glass, we all labeled our glasses to prevent a mix-up...

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  1. Is that Agave Ovatofolia behind the big red vase getting ready to bloom? The leaves in the crown look funny????

    1. That's the damage I mentioned in the photo caption. It showed up last year and the plant is still kinda struggling.

  2. Still one of my favorite private gardens. I've only been there three times, but many of the plants look familiar. It's wonderful for a garden (any garden) to have these anchor plants.

    Erythrostemon is impossible for me to remember (and hard to pronounce).

    1. Once I learned how to pronounce Caesalpinia that felt like a victory!

    2. LOL, I could never figure out how to pronounce "gilliesii"

  3. Jeanne DeBenedetti KeyesAugust 18, 2023

    So many cool plants. I love that "jungle" like feeling. It does seem like that "living room carpet" looks too big but then when you have all the people in there, it is just the right size.

    1. I've always appreciated the negative space, but it was nice to see it filled up with people.

  4. It's a marvelous garden setting for a summer celebration - and I love the thought of little minds being embedded with memories that may create future gardeners too. The blooming Agave ovatifolia looks elegant, although the thought of losing that plant is sad. The malformed whale's tongue looks a little like other agaves I've seen cored - it it too much to hope it'll produce viable offspring from that damaged spot?

    I've only just learned to spell Caesalpinia so I'm going to refuse to acknowledge its new name for now ;)

    1. Interesting comparison to cored agaves, I suppose it could produce offspring, that would be fun. What a job to separate them!

  5. What a treat to experience this garden so intimately during a social event. Gardens are for sharing so what better way to spend an evening with good friends, good conversation and of course, Mr Danger.

    1. Many of those gathered weren't plant people so it was especially fun to listen to their take on it all as they wandered thru the garden.

  6. For me, it's photos of the front garden the spark memories of this garden, specifically the empty pot... how wonderfully restrained.
    Was this the first time Andrew visited the Kuzma/Halme garden? What was Mr. Danger (hilarious!) impression of it?

    1. Oh no, Andrew has been there many times over the years. He's always enjoyed visiting and watching the plants grow and mature.

  7. The Rostratas look like an 80's "big hair" metal band--MÖtly CrÜe, Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi.

    So interesting to see this garden grow over time. The "negative space" concept is interesting. Even more effective as the garden grows and becomes quite the forest. My most annoying useless space by the pond, I'm going to start calling it "negative space"--maybe it will look better that way.

    Awesome to see a healthy L. argentea, they are tricky even in their native climate.

    What a lovely party that must have been.


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