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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hardy Plant Study Weekend -- Bob Barca's Hummingbird Hill on Whidbey Island

I am sooooo far behind on sharing my photos and thoughts on recent garden tours. I've just returned from Hardy Plant Study Weekend in Bellevue, WA, where I sat through several interesting and entertaining talks and went on garden tours every day for four days. I also want to share some of my photos from the Gig Harbor NPA tour over a week ago, which I attended with Peter The Outlaw Gardener and my friend Annette, as well as more photos from my visit to Far Reaches Farm. Where do I begin?

I've decided to start with pictures of one of my favorite gardens from Plant Study Weekend -- the Barca garden, aka Hummingbird Hill, on Whidbey Island, which I saw last Friday. Here's the description from the Plant Study Weekend program booklet.

"Here you will find the garden of a man who was passionate about plants and pushing the envelope of what you can grow. After a pretty good winter come and see what is flourishing and what has been replaced. For years Bob Barca spoke and shared aspects of gardening -- encouraging and inspiring many to try new plants or to plant for the birds. His garden is now tended by his widow and her sister, always involved in projects. Many of the hardscape features help the marginal Mediterranean climate shrubs overwinter. A collector of all things Proteaceae and more, Bob displayed collections in pots as well. Hopefully the Tropaeoleum will be in bloom as it covers the garage wall. No matter the weather it always feels like summer in this garden."

The salmon pink color that every hardscape element and structure is painted is the garden's signature color.

The walls are all built from cinder block and covered with mortar, then painted. Here plants pop up from some of the cinder block openings.

Euphorbia flowers perfectly match the wall color

An enormous Cistus was just smothered in blooms

There were huge Grevilleas blooming everywhere!

Grevillea 'Molonglo'

'Marshall Olbricht'

The cinder block structure reminds me of a pueblo

Arctostaphylos growing in the gravel

Clerodendron hookerianum

Melianthus major

There were also many, many plants that I didn't have a chance of recognizing.

I asked for and got the name of this flowering tree, but did the name stick with me? For maybe ten seconds. (There seems to be a consensus of opinion that it's Pineapple Broom/Cytisus battandieri)

Was the Tropaeoleum blooming? Yes, they both were.
Tropaeoleum tuberosum

T. tuberosum

Tropaeoleum speciosum

A large conservatory attached to the side of the house was also still full of plants.

I bet this stove keeps the space cozy in the winter

A fully functioning sink for washing up

I thought at first that Bob Barca's Hummingbird Hill reminded me of Mexico, or the American Southwest, but in truth, it is a place unto itself. I don't think I've seen anywhere quite like it, and doubt if I ever will again.