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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Camille Paulsen's Peerless Paradise

We have a so-called parade of rainstorms beating us senseless this week (read about it here), so what better time to look back at a beautiful garden from last summer?

I actually managed to finagle two visits to Camille's garden. One was in the late spring when I visited with Peter, The Outlaw Gardener, on the late May day when Camille held her NPA Open Garden. I went as Peter's guest. You can read Peter's post here. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of juice early (bad planning on my part), and Camille invited me to come back another day, to see the garden and chat with her, without the distraction of other garden visitors traipsing through. How lucky was that? I should try that trick more often. Of course, not all garden hostesses might be as gracious and accommodating as Camille.

Camille's garden is large and on a hillside with a breathless view of Mt. Rainier. And like Peter and I, she has traveled far and wide, and overcome obstacles that might stagger a weaker person, in search of the perfect plant or garden accoutrement. She told me of having brought back an enormous stump from her mom's garden in the San Juan Islands, only to discover several miles into the trip that it was infested with ants, which soon were all over the car as well. But she persevered and brought the treasure home. She has brought back unwanted moss from her mother's garden there too, since, like me, she loves the moss that grows so prolifically here in the PNW.

Here are the three photos I managed to take on that day in May before my camera battery died.

This gorgeous bed used to be lawn.

Behind that front bed, between the bed and the house, is a stream and pond, actually a waterfall that splits in two directions, one towards the house and one towards the street -- hard to capture in a single photo

A shade bed alongside the house contains a Himalayan lily getting ready to bloom, as well as a large Buddha head and a fantastic array of foliage plants

I was so disappointed at myself for my bad planning, at the thought that these three shots might be all I would have to share, and to remember this garden. Thank goodness I was invited back, so sit back and get a cup of coffee, cause I took a lot of pictures!

Cluster of pots near the front door

Tuberous Begonia closeup

Begonia 'Gryphon' -- why is mine never this lush?

Stone cat wants to catch those fishies!

Lagerstroemia 'Moonlight Magic' planted next to Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit' -- such a great contrast!

I don't know if this photo truly captures how golden this 'Golden Spirit' Cotinus coggygria was -- the leaves absolutely shimmered like coins

Continuing into the side garden:

Two fabulous Schefflera taiwanniana

An absolute strumpet of a Begonia against the extreme delicacy of a lacy Japanese maple

Buddha has plenty to contemplate here in this leafy Paradise (no meditating for me -- I just covet that big black pot, not to mention the tree fern it contains!)
Is there anything cuter than this little fern with the white underside (Cheilanthes argentea aka Silver Cloak Fern)?

Hostas and ferns are a staple shade combo -- but oh! that variegation! The Hosta is 'Rainbow's End'

I love the way this dark-leaved Ajuga encroaches on the stone -- just the right touch of messiness

As you come around the back of the house:

One long "arm" of a weeping Atlas cedar is trained along the pool fence, and another has been started along the nearer fence, behind the table and chairs

Cluster of pots at the foot of the stairs that lead to the upstairs deck

This shaggy dwarf conifer with cones hanging like dreadlocks is Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’

See the second blue Atlas cedar "arm"?

We've only seen a portion of the garden, it continues beyond that gate

Oh, those Dahlias up there at the top of the bank -- they tease me like painted ladies on the balcony of the saloon in Deadwood

When will I get to them?

It's hard to make out, but there's a second pond in the background of this dreadful photo, edged with the most wonderful moss-shrouded boulders

A waterfall streams into the pond (Be sure to check out Peter's post for some great shots of this pond)

The stream flows under that stone bridge and empties into the pond

That magnificent view of Mt. Rainier -- there's even a bench placed here for sitting and contemplating it -- but don't ooh! and aah! yet, there's a better shot of the mountain at the end of the post, which Camille herself took

A stone staircase with a wooden railing cuts through a shade bed

Kitty wonders about negotiating those stairs

Perfect companions -- red pot, black mondo grass, blood grass and a neon green gazing ball, that picks up the color at the base of the blood grass

More perfect companions -- golden Hakone grass, spotted Farfugium japonicum Aureomaculatum and two small clumps of golden Carpatica

There's a weird fungus among us

Variegated twisty Disporum spills along the edge of the stairs

Fuchsia 'Speciosa' which Camille says flowers non-stop through November

I love those soft, velvety leaves and the little sausage-shaped buds

Finally I reached the Dahlias:

Not all of Camille's garden is outside her house. In the center of the house is a two-story atrium with a skylight and a full-size tree.

Obviously not a real toucan,  but she does keep a few real tropical plants in the birdcage

An important part of a good garden design is views from the windows of the house, and Camille's has that in spades.

Besides being a great gardener and plantswoman, Camille is also an excellent photographer. Here are three photos of hers that she sent me in emails.

This Oriental-style trellis was built by Camille's husband -- a talented woodworker.

Her shot of the entrance to the shade garden in the spring -- so inviting!

Clouds over Mt. Rainier on a winter morning -- just wow!

Camille's garden gave me so many pleasures -- the pleasure of meeting her, the pleasure of seeing her garden, not once, but twice, and then the pleasure of going back over my photos from those two days and choosing which to share on these horribly wet, blustery days. I hope you enjoyed it too!


  1. Camille's garden is as fabulous as she is; what a joy to know them both! You got some great shots and the story about the ant-infested stump made me laugh. Gardeners are such a crazy bunch. Thanks for the link love and for sharing Camille's paradise!

  2. I remember that garden especially well on that beautiful day when The Mountain was out and we explored all of the nooks and crannies. What a great garden!

  3. This was an incredible late-January treat! I always have those same thoughts about other people's begonias compared to mine. And it's so weird how I'm more attracted to the hardier fuchsias, e.g. that spectacular 'Speciosa.'

  4. Inspiring and immaculate garden. I saved a few ideas I'd like to implement, most notably is the pot with black mondo grass and Japanese blood grass, since I have both on hand. I also revisited Peter's post about to get his perspective. One cannot see too many pictures of this garden, especially considering the weather outside.

  5. What a glorious garden! I'd trade my harbor view for Mt. Rainier any day. There are so many wonderful plant combinations too and of course I salivate most over those plants I can't conceivably grow, like hostas and that beautiful variegated Disporum. Thanks for digging into your photo archive to serve up this treat!

  6. This is lovely and the view of the mountain is just spectacular.

  7. really really nice, thanks so much for documenting his wonderful garden.

  8. A magnificent garden, I like the water features especially. How lucky are you to get invited back on your own for a second visit?!


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