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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gardening on the Bleeding Edge

The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions. Alfred Adler
Read more at:
The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions. Alfred Adler
Read more at:
For today, the first day of spring, I've decided to take a look back to last summer -- to a dry, warm day when I visited a fabulous Portland garden. One of my greatest regrets about not attending the 2014 Portland Fling was that I missed seeing fellow garden blogger Loree's Danger Garden. I had seen it once briefly on a spring day that year, when Loree was still in the midst of sorting out her many tender pots for the year. (She keeps a large number of potted plants that aren't hardy to our climate, which she overwinters every year.) But that wasn't the same as seeing it at the height of its summer glory.

So when I heard that her garden was going to be part of the 2015 Green on Green Garden tour, I knew I had to get myself down to Portland to see what I had missed.

Here's what the blurb in the pamphlet said: Loree's edict is "bare ground equals room for another plant." Hardscape helps to control the "chaos." Few elements of the original garden remain, especially in the front garden where plants are chosen for minimal reliance on water and maintenance. A shade pavilion doubles as a greenhouse in the winter. Featured plants include dozens of containered succulents.

A talented hand at pruning has turned an Arctostaphylos, with its lovely red branches, into the sculptured centerpiece of the front garden

And the foundation plantings are definitely not the same old, same old

I was captivated by this stunning arrangement to the right of the front door

I'm hoping some day to have fruit on one of my own cactus (I have two Opuntias that were gifts from Loree)

This enormous Tetrapanax is another cornerstone of the front garden

Loree keeps her edibles in the driveway in containers, along with several of her signature Agaves.

Now we've gone around the corner into the back garden.

Loree's clever husband created this container with bits and pieces from the hardware store

This bed in the back garden is a riot of spiky, prickly foliage, anchored by a tall, stunning Yucca rostrata

A closer look

It's mesmerizing!

A glimpse beyond at the patio

Every tiny detail, like this set of containers, was impeccably groomed and curated

Every corner of the patio has its own arrangement of containers, organized by color -- lime green, orange, black, turquoise, gray and metallic silver

A stock tank "pond' houses a lily with a mottled leaf and a pale yellow bloom (I don't know the other two plants)

Interspersed throughout the garden are several of these narrow pedestals with funnel containers on top

Peter The Outlaw Gardener also keeps most of his Podophyllums in containers, where they thrive like this one.

This year I might dig a few of mine up and keep them in containers, where I can more easily control the amount of water they get. Mine always do fine in the spring, but by the middle of our dry summer, no matter how much I water the beds they're in, they start to flag and die back prematurely.

An overturned bucket with a hole in the bottom houses an Astelia

A lime green circle pot from Potted hangs from a bigleaf Magnolia, with Hostas and a crowded clump of Syneleisis at its feet

Metapanax delavayi further along in the same bed

Loree, the queen of spiky plants, and her sweet dog Lila

Lila, the true queen of the Danger Garden

I was lucky enough to come at the very end of what must have been a long day for Loree and Lila, but they were very gracious hosts and didn't mind me staying past curfew. Fortunately, that also meant that I got to see the garden without a crowd.

Thanks so much, Loree. I know your garden this summer will be just as glorious!


  1. Loree sure has a way with dangerous plants, doesn't she? Her garden is a testament to how, with the right conditions, even xeric plants can thrive in western Oregon. Great photos.

  2. Thank you for this tour on a drizzly first day of spring. Great photos, Alison! Loree's garden is always an inspiration to me.

  3. How lucky to be able to see Loree's garden in the flesh as it were. It's one I love to visit, even if only 'virtually'!

  4. Her garden is always immaculate. Nice to revisit summer on this drizzly day.

    1. Ha! Not really. It was specially shined that day.

  5. Summer!!! Thanks Alison, your timing is perfect...I needed this jolt of sunshine and remembering a very fun (if exhausting) day. Being too sick to garden during this last sunny spell has had me down, you've reminded me there are sunnier days ahead. Here's to summer 2017! (fabulous photos too...)

  6. What a special treat Alison! Enjoyable to see your perspective of Loree's wonderful garden on tour day. Your photos were great too.

  7. Loree is an artist with plants, that's for sure.

  8. Thank you Alison! So many interesting plants and plant combinations! Yucca rostrata is a star!

  9. For as many times as I've "seen" Loree's garden in her own posts and in the posts of other bloggers, it looks a bit different each time. Thanks for allowing me to see it through your eyes, Alison! That Astelia planted through the bottom of a metal bucket was a new - and much appreciated - touch or whimsy.

  10. What an amazing garden. I would never have expected those plants in the Pacific Northwest. What a beautiful tour. I always appreciate that you get me out of the house.

  11. Thanks for this tour. I read Loree's blog, but every time someone visits and writes about it like this I discover new things.

  12. So different from anything I'd see around here....How I enjoyed it!

  13. Wonderful! More plants for my list (I really like the Podophyllums). I can't wait to see some of the private gardens out here. Such fun!

  14. What a treat to see Loree's garden! Thanks for this great summer tour to remind us how much more full it is in the warmer months!

  15. Oh Alison, what a wonderful post on Loree's garden. I love all of your pictures.

  16. Oh boy, that was a jolt of summer! Thank you for that. Fabulous photos too - of plants as well as inhabitants.

  17. New perspectives of a much-visited and enjoyed garden. Loree's an artist and so are you!

  18. Wouldn't it be fun to "shop" in Loree's garden? Wrap that Acanthus sennii up, please! Wonderful tour and photos, thank you!

  19. Thanks for the virtual tour! "Someday."


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.