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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Bits and Pieces

I didn't get enough good photos at the rest of the gardens that I toured during the Hardy Plant Study Weekend to do an entire blog post on each. But I have a handful of good photos left over, so I thought I'd share those.

From the Garden of Debra and Jim Heg

From Froggwell Gardens

Yes, the Rhodie leaves really were that blue

Stewartia flowers -- the tree was huge and profusely laden with blooms

If you click to embiggen you can see garden owner Ralph Hastings sitting on the patio to the left of the house

From the Garden of Lynn and Mike Garvey

From the Garden of Janet Patrick

From the Garden of Susan Picquelle and Jim Meador

I wish I knew my Arisaemas better, it would amuse me if that is Arisema dracontium next to the dragon hatching from an egg

From the Bluestem Garden of John Longres and Jeff Graham

From the Garden of Justin Galicic

Eucomis freckles

I'm sure he won't eat much...

From the Garden of Jon Dove

Look! It's me and my garden touring buddy Peter The Outlaw Gardener! Of course, I think we might have to arm wrestle  each other over who gets the clown to represent them.

I hope you enjoyed this series about the gardens I saw on the Hardy Plant Study Weekend. You can find my previous posts at the following links:

Denise Lane's Garden
Millie Livingston's Garden
Susie Marglin's Garden
Hummingbird Hill

Other local bloggers have done posts about Plant Study Weekend too.

You can find posts from Tangly Cottage Gardens at the following links:

Livingston Garden
Eckley Garden
Longres-Graham Garden
Garvey Garden
Patrick Garden
Lane-Allers Garden
Daniel Mount Garden
Marglin Garden
Stobaugh-Prunhuber Garden
Heg Garden
Hummingbird Hill

And you can find posts from Linda Letters at the following links:

Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Day One
Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Day Two
Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Day Three
Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Day Four

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Favorite Plant in the Garden This Week...

Isn't actually in my garden. It's in everyone else's garden! I saw it over and over in many of the gardens that were on tour during the Hardy Plant Study Weekend, and in fact, before that had even started, I had just seen it for the first time during the Gig Harbor NPA tour the previous weekend.

It's called Stachys 'Bello Grigio,' and I think it's stunning.

Here it is making a statement in Froggwell on Whidbey Island during Plant Study Weekend.

In a pot on its own in Denise Lane's garden in Medina
In a bed at Justin Galicic's garden

Looking perhaps a bit bedraggled with a Hebe and Bergenia in Susie Marglin's front garden in Bellevue

Again, looking a bit the worse for wear in the Lynn and Mike Garvey garden in Bellevue

And finally, my very first glimpse of it, in this perfectly put-together container in the Peggy and Bill Fox garden in Gig Harbor.


When I saw this container, I just had to touch it, to stroke it. The platinum white leaves are very like regular lamb's ear, soft and fuzzy, but 'Bello Grigio's' are long, upright, and sword-shaped. Coincidentally, local garden guru Ciscoe Morris had just written about 'Bello Grigio' in his column that appeared in the Seattle Times the same weekend as Study Weekend. You can read about it here. According to Ciscoe, unlike regular lamb's ear, this one only flowers when it's about to die. It's thought to be hardy to -30 degrees Fahrenheit, but of course it's so new that no one really knows how it will cope with our soggy winters. Like lamb's ear, it likes sun and good drainage.

I just finished pulling a bunch of other lamb's ears out of my gravel garden, because I didn't like their flowers, and I didn't like how very bedraggled they look in the wet, as well as how aggressively they spread and overtake their companions. I'm hoping this one will be a nicer neighbor to the other plants in the bed (or container) with it.

I've seen photos of it on a couple of California blogs, but photos don't compare to seeing it in person. I love it with all the purple foliage and flowers in the container from the Fox garden. It would look wonderful in a moon garden, I bet it practically glows at night. If I put it in the ground, I might underplant it with something like black mondo grass, or Ajuga 'Black Scallop.' Of course, I have to find it first.

Have you seen it at any nurseries? What companions would you give it?

Loree at the blog Danger Garden hosts the Favorite Plant in the Garden meme. I've taken a bit of a liberty with it this time, since I'm not actually growing this plant. You can read Loree's current post here, and be sure and check out the comments, where others leave links to posts about their favorites.

Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Denise Lane's Garden

Three years ago, when the Garden Bloggers Fling took place in Seattle, one of the gardens that we toured was Denise Lane's garden in Medina. We sat and had lunch there, and then were set loose to check out the garden. It's a large garden, full of interesting plants and hardscape, and back then I was still new to the area, and still learning about what grows here, so I basically wandered in a daze. It wasn't until I saw other bloggers' posts and pictures that I realized I had missed an entire area of the garden, with a Little and Lewis concrete ruin.

So, imagine how thrilled I was to see in the handout for the Hardy Plant Study Weekend that Denise Lane's garden was on the tour for Saturday! It's not often you get a second chance at anything. As soon as they let us loose after the morning lectures, I gobbled half my lunch and took off like a shot.

Here's the blurb from the booklet:

"Denise came to garden this varied landscape in 1988. Since then it has seen many things come and many go. Gone are trees that were falling or too shady. Gone are the blackberries and other thugs that come with inattention. Gone are many plants that just didn't work. Added were some impressive pieces of stone, plenty of art and a cohesion that many  gardeners strive for. From swamp to entertainment patio there is a bit of everything for everyone here. Color combos sing and the turf is just enough to set off the beds and borders. A busy street is disappearing behind well placed plantings of interesting things. A plant collector and skilled designer, Denise makes it look easy. Spend some time wandering the many walks and trails discovering rare and beautiful treasures."

Concrete ruin and pool in Denise Lane's garden

'Forest Pansy' Redbud with ruin in the background

Hosta leaf lit by sun from behind

Another cool fountain that I don't remember from 2011

Patio and pavilion

Ground cover and river rock rings the patio

This green concrete wall and mirror with sitting area replaced a Leyland cypress

The rare and the common together

Lilac with fabulous purple Clematis

Wingthorn rose

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' with Empress tree leaf

Black poppy

I don't remember this mosaic torso from 2011 -- somehow it feels out of place to me

This feels more at home

And this carved stone -- which I remember seeing in 2011

I didn't post about Denise Lane's garden back in 2011, but many other bloggers did! Here are a few of their posts.

The Shovel-Ready Garden
Danger Garden
Rock Rose

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- The Millie Livingston Garden

The Millie Livingston garden in Seattle was a late addition to the schedule for the garden tour on Sunday, so it wasn't included in the Plant Study Weekend booklet. Instead we were given a separate handout with a blurb about it.

"In 1989, when this plant collector moved into a steep Seattle hillside garden, she found the most creative and inventive ways to deal with replacing failing retaining walls and paths to a lookout over Puget Sound. Then she artfully began planting a mix of native plants and ornamentals, all purposefully placed for maximum textural interest and color echoes. The hardscape is equally as exquisite, with stunning mosaic paths and walls, narrow metal water troughs running alongside paths, metal and stonework walls, and water features -- you will wonder how they got it all down the site. The vegetable garden is the jewel of the garden and recently won a National Award for residential mosaic work by local artist Nadine Edelstein (the public award in this contest went to the 9/11 Memorial). Don't miss the chute where bags of compost make their way from the hilltop to the vegetable garden. What a beautiful marriage of exceptional stone, metal and mosaic hardscape, and a plant collector's dream garden. What's most amazing is, Millie maintains the garden almost entirely by herself."

I discovered as I made my way toward this garden that it was actually very close to the house we rented, in a neighborhood called Broadview, when we first moved here five years ago. We had noticed that most of the houses further down toward the Sound were quite large and impressive, with larger lots. It's possible the house on Millie's lot was one of those big, impressive ones.

But the garden was so fabulous, I barely noticed the house.

A colorful, sunny bed greets you at the street.

Spent Alliums, bright blue Salvia and pink peonies

Inside the wrought iron fence is a lovely peaceful shade garden in the front.

This rusty bird makes a nice accent under the trees.

A bamboo pipe drips into a mossy stone basin.

As you follow the brick path around the side of the house, you realize there is a nice view ahead of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.


Set into the railing is the compost chute, mentioned in the blurb above.

Stairs lead you down.

There is just a glimpse through the trees of the vegetable garden at the bottom of the slope.

A narrow path without handrails criss-crosses the slope.

Partway down, looking back up at the house. There is a path there.

Finally, a better view of the vegetable garden, with its fabulous mosaic floor.

A couple of steps up and around the curve...

Down the steps to the patio

A peaceful, stone water feature drips slowly

Plenty of colorful containers set at the corner of the patio

A wee metal doggie keeps an eye on you.

Nearby is an enormous fireplace

At the far end of the patio is the fenced vegetable garden.

It's hard for me to fathom how much intricate detail work went into making this mosaic.


Some of the tiles are mirrored. I tried to get my camera to focus on the reflection, but it wasn't cooperating.

At the farthest end of the garden is the other end of the compost chute.

A rusty tractor seat sits beside the gate into the veggie beds.

Presiding over the patio far below the house is this magnificent gnarled willow.

At the opposite end of the patio from the vegetable garden is a stream and shade beds.

Large leaved Rhododendrons are planted at the side of the path through the shade area. There's another steep drop-off just beyond, into a ravine with a real stream.

The path leads you onward and downward

A nurse log beside the path -- placed there by Mother Nature, or by the hand of the gardener?

More narrow steps downward, into the gully

A huge set of planks seems to hang suspended on the side of the slope

At the very bottom is a rope bridge across the ravine. It wasn't a big drop down, but I didn't venture across.

I headed back up, via a different route.

Partway back up, I look down to a soul braver than me.

Ah! The security of a railing

A huge arbor anchors one end of the patio, and another water feature begins.

The water spills into a stone basin, and from there...

Into a rill...

The rills travels down the side of a mosaiced stone staircase.

Past another fabulous mosaic on the wall

Here the water in the rill finds its final destination.

And it's finally time for me to head back up to the house and on to the next garden. This time I take the stairs instead of the narrow path with switchbacks.


Lots of stairs...

And back out to the front garden and the street
Millie's garden was on such a steep slope, I did indeed marvel at how much work and heavy lifting must have been required for its construction. I spoke briefly to Millie. She designed the entire garden herself, but of course had help with the construction.

Valerie Easton recently wrote a feature on Millie's garden for the Seattle Times. You can read it here.

I hope you enjoyed visiting this garden with me. It was fun to explore!