Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, August 2, 2013

End-of-the-Month View of the Gravel Garden -- Warts and All

I've been debating with myself for a couple of days now whether I wanted to do an end-of-the-month view of my garden. I originally thought I might do the entire garden, but quickly came to the conclusion that it would be too overwhelming, for both me and my readers. I also tried, somewhat half-heartedly, to cut back and deadhead stuff so that it would look at its best, but also quickly realized that would take me forever, and I would never get around to actually posting any pictures. Which explains why this end-of-the-month view is actually a beginning-of-the-month view.

The gravel garden was installed last year in late winter. Work began right after the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. When we first moved into this house four years ago, the area that now contains the gravel garden was just a gravel-covered parking area next to the driveway, meant for extra cars, a boat, or a camper/trailer. We have none of those (we're a one-car family). What we do have in this house is one garden- and plant-crazed woman, and one very indulgent husband. If you're interested in reading about the evolution of the gravel garden, you can read posts here, here and here.

When you drive up to the house, the first thing you see is the gravel garden on the left, right beside the driveway.

It might look like there are only three gabions, but there are actually 5. Two sets of two, and one set of one in the center. And two culvert planters.

Each set of culvert plus gabions is surrounded by pots. That first shrub there on the left is an Arbutus unedo compacta.

I've been warned that the Arbutus sheds leaves, and it does.

Near it are two Eryngium agavifolium. I love the foliage, but I'm undecided about the flowers.

Behind the Arbutus is a pair of artichokes, now flowering in this eye-popping electric blue-purple.

The bees love them.

As the artichoke flowers fade, they get a bit of a mohawk.

The hummers love these Agastaches in the gravel garden, next to the artichokes.

I've left dried flowers from Alliums in the culvert planters. It would tidy the garden up some if I just pulled them out, but I like them.

This Ceanothus has gotten huge since I planted it, just completely overtaking everything planted under and around it.

You can now barely see the gabion globes that I made last year when the gravel garden was new.

This area to the right of the Ceanothus is a tangled mess of plants, including this enormous Kniphofia caulescens, which has never flowered.

An 'Ann Folkard' Geranium planted nearby twines throughout the Ceanothus and through all the other plants as well.

Below the Ceanothus a Salvia of some kind with spoon-shaped leaves is also flowering.

My plan is to limb up the Ceanothus as it grows, leaving space for the plants underneath.

It isn't obvious at first glance, but there is a path down the center of the gravel garden.

Some of the plants have seeded babies into the path, like these two golden feverfew. I need to rescue them and pot them up.

The gravel garden has four Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy,' planted in pairs.

All four are flowering beautifully

Last year Loree of danger garden sent me a couple of rooted Opuntia pads, and they have produced new growth. The new pads, however, all have these odd markings on them. Does anyone know if that's normal?

Eryngium 'Big Blue' is growing in the gravel garden as well.

The striking blue of the flowers has faded to brown. I hope I can get viable seeds from them.

Near the Eryngium is one of three 'Bright Star' Yuccas, all doing well, although this one is the most vigorous and unblemished.

And there are two clumps of Stipa gigantea, which have produced a couple of seedheads like this. I hope to have even more next year.

A favorite of mine in the gravel garden is ornamental oregano.

I think this is Origanum libanoticum.

Here's a look back towards the street from about halfway down the gravel garden.

The gravel garden to the right of the cluster of pots with the single gabion. I need more plants here to screen the neighbor's weedy gravel parking area.

The Rubus lineatus behind the last set of gabions is doing well.

There's a couple of Agaves, as well as an enormous glass "Agave" made by Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens Northwest, in that last culvert planter, as well as several flowering Hens and chicks (no longer looking much like Hens and dicks, unless your dick is wearing a French tickler)

At the end of last winter my 'Whale's Tongue' Agave, planted in the second culvert, had to lose several mushy arms. It seems to have bounced back well.

This unlabeled Agave, undoubtedly not hardy, is sitting in an upended lighting fixture.

A similar fixture in the culvert contains an Echevaria with a red edge.

There's another large gap in the screen between me and the neighbor's back yard.

As we get closer to the gate into the back garden, the plants are more dry shade-tolerant. This combo is Epimedium, golden Carex and Hellebore.

The fence contains a couple of cutout wrought iron windows, that you can look through into the back.

The gate has a small stained glass window.

When you look through the open gate, the stream is the first thing you see. But that's a future post.

Here endeth the garden tour. What a long, tedious post! Did you actually read it all? Brave soul.

The End-of-the-Month View is a garden bloggers meme hosted by Helen Johnstone of The Patient Gardener's Weblog, who I met at the Garden Bloggers Fling back in June. You can read her post here, and be sure and check out all the links people have left in the comments to their own posts.


  1. Your gravel garden is looking fantastic for only being planted a year ago. I love that oregano ! Do you water your G.G. ?

    1. Last year when it was new, I watered it once a week to get things established. So far this summer I have watered it only once. I might get around to watering it again once before the rains come back.

  2. What warts?! It looks FANTASTIC. I can't believe it's so young!

  3. That's a wonderful garden tour and I even went back for a couple more looks. Those gabion pillars are awesome and so is everything else.

    Good idea to make a gravel garden from the gravel you inherited with the hosue and it's nice to see a bigger picture of how the garden looks overall. My opuntia have all kinds of markings, nicks, and spots so since the rest of the pad looks healthy I'd say that's just what they do.

  4. Your gravel garden is wonderful! It certainly looks more established than I'd expect at a year old. It must be a great place to putter about!

  5. It looks fabulous, Alison, love it! I'm so glad you leave your Allium seedheads up, they are so striking...if you ever get rid of them, ship them to me...I love them!

  6. It always amazes me all the plants you can grow in gravel and your garden looks stunning. Fabulous job.

  7. Excellent Alison ! Lots of cool stuff going on there ! I collect ornamental Oreganos-kind of by accident. One day I looked around and realized I had a dozen different cultivars , and now I buy every one I find if I don't have it already. I am voting 'yes' on the Eryngium agavifolium flowers.

  8. Wow! It really looks good. I love it. Your garden gate is amazing. I love how the alliums look dried. I have such a hard time even getting mine to bloom. You should be proud of your garden. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Very cool garden! I love that artichoke flower. Also, I always cut down my alliums when they set seed. Now I'm wondering if I should let them stand.

  10. I am glad you showcased this very unique and original much in it as you get closer...and that last shot has me waiting at the gate to get inside to take a look.

  11. Your garden is looking fab! The Allium seed heads look wonderful. I love the fact that the stems are usually so strong, that if they fall over, you can just stick them back in the ground. I enjoyed the tantalising glimpse through the garden gate too!

  12. I love this garden, so interesting.
    I have done crying over my former house, I did not realize how emotional I would get, but when you see years of love and labor in that state, it just takes a persons breath away. I know the pain will fade and I will go find the photos of the garden when I lived there and concentrate on the happy memories.

  13. It looks great. What a perfect way to grow the tender perennials and Mediterranean area (drought tolerant) plants. I love the gabions and the gate. It is such a better presentation than in a lawn area which will dry up in our summers. I was looking at our garden which has similar plants and the heat is definitely taking a toll. Your arbutus is doing well - you should see the leaves ours is shedding. And definitely keep the alliums - the dried up flowers are part of their beauty.

  14. Love your gravel garden and like the others, I see no warts!

  15. What an interesting garden you have! Someday I'll get back to mine and maybe join in this end of the month thing too.

  16. Your gravel garden is an inspiration! I love how you repurposed the area next to the driveway, and how inviting it is in that spot just as people come to your house. I'm looking for ideas for my gravel garden which is at the top of our driveway -- I really like your hardscape (the gabions are wonderful!! and the fence is a work of art.) Your use of grouped pots works well, and that's something I need to study as I never seem to get the hang of artfully massing things around.

    You've made a really interesting space out of an old parking spot!

  17. The gravel garden is absolutely fabulous ... and I love that final view into the back gardens!

  18. As you know I'm a gravel garden girl so I love your gravel garden and the variety of plants you have. I remember seeing so many of these at the Seattle fling. I have serious envy of the S. gigantea but have never seen it in Texas. I love the shot through the gate to the stream; perfection. Now I must go and take a look at the previous posts to see how you did it all and if you posted about the round gabion. That looks very interesting. By the way opunta often have markings from insect damage,sun,cod etc They can get pretty scarred gnarly in old age. I wouldn't worry.

  19. Love your fence and the gravel garden. The artichoke is almost electric!! wow.


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