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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The New Hampshire Garden of Deanne Fortnam

Earlier this month, while I was in Massachusetts visiting my son, I took advantage of the fact that he had to work the day before his surgery, and took off, leaving Nigel in my dust, to visit Deanne Fortnam, who writes the blog Fortnam Gardens. I knew that despite living and gardening in New Hampshire, Deanne had lots and lots (really lots) of Bromeliads, and as a new convert to tropicals like that, I was dying to see them (not to mention the rest of her garden). Fortunately, it wasn't far from where we were staying to Deanne's house. Thanks to the Google iPhone app, I found my way there easily.

She greeted me at the door and happily showed me around.

A white branch of her variegated Brugmansia

Not a Cotinus -- amazingly, a Euphorbia!

Euphorbia cotinifolia flowers

Blue pots massed on the driveway, with a massive Furcraea as a centerpiece

I looked up from those blue pots, across the front expanse of lawn, and gasped. The entire border pictured below is composed of potted tropical plants in hot colors (which if you've been reading my blog lately, I am right now highly enamored of). Some of these plants -- the red banana and the deeply veined elephant ear in particular -- are enormous, taller than me (I'm a shortie, but still).

I immediately fell in lust with that orange Bromeliad.

A match made in heaven

The sun was bright that day, but that orange Bromeliad outshone it!

From there, we went around the right hand side of the house into the back garden, where this lovely patio, also surrounded by Bromeliads in pots, awaited.

Love those striations!

Running along the back of the house is a shady border with this leaf casting, painted by Deanne. I learned later, while we sat eating lunch, that Deanne is an artist. Amazingly, she initially failed her certification because of a lack of color theory knowledge. I don't think she needs to worry about that any more.

These three lush Begonias hang just above.
A sweet pond and waterfall which Deanne and her husband Doug built themselves

Hey! I recognize that plant! I bought one last winter.

To the right of the pond, another border full of potted tropical plants. This view is actually through her sun-room window. Imagine having that to look at as a view through your window!

This border in the back garden is the home of Deanne's Bromeliad tree, which I've read about on her blog. I wondered how it was made. Each Bromeliad was removed from its pot, the roots wrapped in moss and then wired to the tree. I don't have enough Bromeliads to make something like this, but some day...

A flowering Tillandsia tucked into the Bromeliad tree

Touches of art everywhere -- and a good aphorism to keep in mind, since my son's surgery was coming up the very next day.

Further back, under the tall trees is a shady area where Deanne has been fighting the predations of voles.

A fern among the Ligularia with an enormous mouthful of a name -- Athyrium filix-femina 'Cruciato cristatum' Dre's Dagger

A charming garden shed

I love the touch of "Old World" charm that this colorful, weatherproof art brings to the garden. When you turn your head, you can see the real thing, only better.

Thank you, Deanne, for feeding me lunch and for being such a lovely and welcoming hostess! You must come to the PNW so I can repay the favor.


  1. I knew Deanne had turned her attention to bromeliads but had no idea it was to this extent! Wonderful that you two met up, and thanks for bringing your camera.

  2. Oh Alison! This is so fantastic! I just love your visual take on my gardens. I love the close up of the new perennial pot in the back by the shed. Many, many thanks for sharing this. I needed a smile on my face today. I've been pretty down in the dumps the last couple days since Doug was injured. We'll find out Friday when the surgery will be scheduled. Thanks again for sharing your lovely pictures.

  3. How wonderful that you were able to visit Deanne's lovely garden. Her garden is so colourful and she has so many tropical plants that she places so well that it looks like she loves further south of the country.

  4. Wow! I'm not a tropical plant collector, but seeing this I can see why it's a contagious garden malady! But I want to know where she keeps these plants during the long, cold winter. Does she have a greenhouse? A really BIG greenhouse?

  5. Oh, my! What a visual treat. I had the same question as Linda above, but I found the answer. My question now is how the Bromeliad Tree is going to come inside? I have long wanted to have an Epi tree but the logistics just seem impossible.

    Fantastic that you got to visit, Alison. Even more wonderful that we got to see through your eyes and hear such good commentary.

  6. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful garden, Alison. I especially liked the panoramic images of the container collections. And you have me wondering if I don't need some additional bromeliads too.

    BTW, I hope your son has recovered from his surgery and is doing fine now!

  7. Wonderful post captured Deannes garden beautifully. Next time you're back yonder maybe we can set you up with a couple more !

    1. Absolutely Kathy, would love to have the bloggers visit Sue's and Monique's gardens, not to mention if we could get them up to Coastal Maine

  8. Oh yes! I'm so glad you visited Deanne and took so many photos, it's a bromeliad fantasy land...

  9. Deanne's garden has fascinated me on her blog for quite a while now. How lucky that you got to visit it in person. You got some great photos of this exuberant and gorgeous garden! That orange bromeliad - Rare Plant Research - next year-let's make a date!

  10. I can just see you two like-minded gardeners settling down to lunch and a long heart-to-heart, like long lost chums. The photo looking into the heart of the bromeliad with the pinstripes is fabulous.

  11. Wow, never thought I'd see such a lush tropical garden in New Hampshire.

  12. Alison, I was searching for Bill Seaborn, author of the 1976 Bromeliad book that I treasure and found this link:

    We might want to spend time here.

  13. Oh those bromeliads! Thanks for pointing me towards another blog to follow! I'm planning an expansion of my bromeliad collection and it will be great to learn from her blog. Everything looks amazing and healthy. The container plants and garden all look incredible!

  14. I love this garden. Thanks for sharing your visit to it!


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