tropical

Take a step back in time at Hillwood Gardens…

It felt as if we stepped back in time when we toured the lovely grounds of Hillwood Gardens at the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area.  The grounds of the estate offered something for everyone.  From the formal areas to the cutting garden, Japanese garden and the pet cemetery, the patchwork of styles was delightful.

Filled with traditional and eclectic statuary, the grounds were dotted with whimsical touches.  This pair of sphinxes, half woman, half lion, drew many stares from visitors.

Across the lush lawn from the mansion, a flagstone patio marks the edge of a balcony overlooking the hilly lawn below.

I did not venture down the hill; my dog took me down on the street in our neighborhool 9 weeks before the Fling and I spent the entire trip hobbling around with a broken foot in a boot!

It was very manageable almost everywhere.  There were only 3 hilly gardens that I either couldn’t or chose not to navigate.  And I brought baggies to make ice packs for my foot every night.  The kindness of my fellow bloggers was astounding.  I believe that every single person asked me at least once or twice about how I was doing and asked if there was anything they could do for me.  It really touched me how kind and generous every one was.  Thank you all for your help and support.

In the midst of many formal garden elements, I found this border dotted with tropical plants and bold color contrasts a delightful surprise.

The Japanese garden lies down the path to the right of the patio.  The hillside garden winds through rocks and holds an extensive collection of Japanese style statuary. The stunning color combinations almost take your breath away and the varying textures and forms create fabulous contrasts.

What Japanese garden would be complete without a water feature, a pagoda and an arched wooden bridge.

The water feature brought an element of calm and cool to the garden, in spite of the heat of the day.

Down the path to the left of the patio a pet cemetery honors the furry family members of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then I found my way to the cutting garden.  Filled with beautiful blooms of every size and color, the flowers were also given a helping hand with stakes and a a full length grid.  About a foot high, the grid allowed the flowers to grow straight up through it from early on, ensuring nice, straight stalks.

One of my favorite plants for its exotic look and structural shape, there was a big patch of Eryngium.

And, a few more whimsical statues to close out this blog tour.

Back to the work at hand, we shoot each other at the same time!

Another wonderful garden experience on our Capital Region Fling.

More Chanticleer magic — the Tea Cup Garden

I really had no sense of the vastness that awaited me in all three of the gardens that my friend, Pam, of Digging, and I visited on our recent trip to the Brandywine Valley area of Pennsylvania.

Upon entering the third garden, Chanticleer, on the third morning of our trip, the sun was already high in the sky and the day was heating up. The entrance area is rather small – a covered outdoor area on a patio with a nice selection of planters and a desk where the staff politely welcomed us. We started where most people start, entering through the small Kitchen Courtyard Garden just beyond the entrance.

The initial courtyard is filled with creative planters as well as fresh flowers.

Each day, the gardeners scatter fresh-cut flowers in vases and containers like this throughout the garden. These float gently on top of the water in this pot.

Filled with an array of tempting tropicals, the next garden, beyond the ornate gate, is the Tea Cup Garden. It is said to change significantly from year to year or even season to season, as most of its plants don’t overwinter in the this cold-climate garden. Come on in, the weather’s fine.

Taken by this delicate display, Pam captures it with her camera.

Now, my turn!

I love the reflection of the light in the sky against the glass table top, adding another dimension to this vignette.

The namesake of this garden, a tea cup-like planter, provides the focal point of the inner courtyard filled with tropical plants.

Groupings of pots add interest around the perimeter of the courtyard on the right.

The left side of the courtyard includes a raised bed garden, filled with alliums, punctuated by two stunning ceramic planters with silver ponyfoot and bromeliads.

This marks only the beginning of the garden’s vast display of bromeliads. To add to the level of detail in both garden design and identification, Chanticleer’s website includes a meticulously created plant list for each garden. Which, by the way, changes with the seasons and the years. I assumed it would just be an alphabetical list, which would have made IDing plants complicated. Then I clicked on the link and found this
— amazing.

With a small collection of bromeliads, I can’t wait to get all my posts done and then take a good look at the plant list to start making my own wish list!

This delicate peach Brugmansia, ‘Charles Grimaldi,’ rests in a clever container, contrasting beautifully with the rich, eggplant colors of Begonia ‘sparks will fly’ and Neoregelia ‘Elwood.’
So, finally I get to the alliums.

My love affair with alliums began in 2009 at the site of the second Garden Bloggers Fling in Chicago. You can see my post about that tour here
.

I tried twice to grow them in Austin, but our weather heated up much too quickly for them (at least in the years I tried to grow them) and the foliage was fried to a crisp before they reached 1/2 of their mature height. I even planted varieties specifically known to grow in Zone 9, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So, they hold a special interest for me on garden tours to more temperate climates. I’ll have to settle for enjoying the onion blooms in my veggie garden.

Their kaleidoscope structure is even more intriguing up close and personal.

Naturally, Pam and I had to take a selfie with them, though they sort of look like they’re coming out of the back of our heads!

There were so many more beautiful plants and vignettes in the Tea Cup Garden — these are just the highlights. Next, we’ll venture further into the garden. If you missed my first two posts about our fabulous garden trip, you can find them here – Chanticleer’s Ruin Garden
, and here – Longwood Conservatory Garden post #1
(also filled with bromeliads).

I haven’t had time to post all week, but it feels great to “stroll” through my garden photos and share my memories with you. I’ll have another one soon!

Inside Austin Gardens tour showcases an oasis in Texas heat

Last week I got a preview of the wonderful gardens that will be on the popular  Master Gardeners Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2015 on Saturday, October 17.  The tour provides a rare look inside six private gardens and a public experimental garden.

With the theme of For Gardeners, By Gardeners, the tour showcases 7 gardens with distinctly different garden styles.  Each garden focuses on practical beauty, plant variety, and native or well-adapted plants.

Flashy Natives – bright and colorful
Sunbathing Natives – brutal, full sun
Shady Natives – shade and under trees
Death-Defying Natives – especially hardy, minimal water
Cottage Natives – Texas tough classics
Oh Deer! – deer-resistant, not deer-proof
Native Testing Ground – new varieties and proven winners

Tickets for all 7 gardens are $19 in advance or $20 at any garden location on the day of the tour. Single garden tickets for $5 can also be purchased at each garden.  Purchase advance tickets here.

Shady Natives at 4603 Palisade Drive
This lush garden feels like an oasis in our Texas heat.  With great garden bones and a hardy plant palette, a wide variety of plants play off one another, incorporating contrasting textures, forms and colors.  The garden is very colorful, but even when plants aren’t blooming, the array of interesting foliage makes this a beautiful garden year-round.  This garden was started in 1980, and the owners had their work cut out for them as the property was overrun with Asian jasmine ground cover and had to treat for oak wilt 3 times.  It’s a stunning garden – one of my favorites of the tour.  Don’t miss this one!

Hot art and design spice up Portland De Sousa Fling garden

Full to the brim with ideas and a mile-long wish list of plants that I know I can’t grow here, I’m reacclimating to Austin and my own garden after 6 glorious days in Portland, OR.

My seventh Garden Bloggers Fling beckoned last weekend – with an agenda full of great friends, gardens, nurseries, and gift shops. 

The whirlwind started early and ended late and wowed me all day long every day.  Because there were so many gardens in every imaginable style – I just closed my eyes today and blindly picked one to begin my posting.

The JJ De Sousa garden was one of my favorites.  Hot colors created a riot of interest in the garden – plants and art and seating everywhere shouting “look at me, look at me.”  The rich and sophisticated hues of tropical colors were designed to brighten the shady spots of this garden and to celebrate the hot, sunny spaces.

 This whimsical gate welcomes visitors.

 The colors of the tropics permeate everything in the garden, plants, pottery and decor.

 The plants looked happy and healthy everywhere I turned.  Ah, the benefits of some rain in the garden.

 Pots and gazing balls coordinate and contrast.

 The side garden ends with a fabulous wooden gate — which leads to another pocket of paradise.

 Come on in, the party’s in here!

 More whimsical art sets the mood for this garden.

 Every little nook and cranny was filled with some sweet something designed to delight the senses.

 This precious little statue is squirreling away succulents instead of seeds.

 This regal Egyptian dog statue comes down to earth with clematis and nasturtiums trailing all around.

 These tall, elegant vases, capped with aeonium, added a little note of sophistication.

 One of many seating areas that welcomed visitors to sit a spell.

Color joined texture in this garden — smooth ceramic pots, gritty gray concrete and the sleek look of the corrugated tin made a cool combo.

 Ahhh – I could sit here for hours!

 And, a little humor.  Chicken nesting boxes now home to hens and chicks … ha ha.

And just past the shrimp plant in this bed, a colorful stock tank water feature with a metal shrimp  sculpture and glass globes.  Look up whimsy in the dictionary — this is the photo you’ll find.

The same burst of colors that enriched the shady front garden, with a drier, sunnier twist.

 More whimsy around the corner.

 This Buddha statue, hidden among the trees, looked just like a giant gummi bear.

 There were little vignettes like this everywhere.

More color, radiating everywhere.

And back through the gate again.

This was one of many Portland gardens on the tour to feature trendy tropical-style colors and decor.  But beyond the design, this hot garden would brighten any cloudy day.  It certainly brightened mine.

Saturday, May 3rd, don’t miss the Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2014 for inspiration & ideas

As they do every year, the Travis County Master Gardeners, have put together a great garden tour — full of interesting and inspirational gardens for experienced and novice gardeners alike.

This year’s tour – next Saturday, May 3rd from 9-4 should be on your calendar.

I was invited to preview the gardens with fellow garden bloggers last week, so I have some inside scoop for you here.  This is the first of two posts that will highlight the gardens. 

The first garden was that of Dugie and David Graham, high on a hill in north Austin where they deal with a serious slope and hungry deer.  Their garden was full of beautiful bones and hardscape that made the best of their landscape.

 A beautiful pond cascades down the back hillside, providing a home for plants, wildlife and art.

Stone beds with dappled shade make a lovely home for native and xeric plants.

 On a landing, this beautiful wooden table sits atop a creative stone floor.

Guarding the path down the hill, these columns with trellises provide beautiful and unique support for some stunning roses.

The second garden was Jerry Naiser’s, owner of Real Green Pest and Lawn Service, Naiser’s garden  is controlled by a highly sophisticated 32-zone drip irrigation system.  The system includes moisture sensors that enable him to provide just the right amount of water to each garden zone.

 This focal point as you enter the garden from the side yard is this dramatic trio of fiery fountains.

 With a very lush, tropical feel, the garden sports citrus trees, caladiums, cannas and grasses.

 Vegetables and annuals fill beds and vertical spaces as well.

 As you follow the bed around the back of the garden, this longhorn sculpture guards the entrance to the back patio area.


 A secluded seating area in the back corner of the garden is a hideaway for relaxing in hanging chairs and a hammock.

The covered patio off of the back of the house was transformed into this trendy outdoor kitchen, complete with flat screen tv.

The next landscape was that of Robin Howard Moore.  Her garden was a mix of traditional and eccelctic.  

 

 Alternately, tropical and cottage-style.

 With a few interesting focal points.

 Cobalt blue pots and a bottle brush tree added color and interest.

 A step back revealed the towering trees covering her beds.

This charming combination against a wall evoked an old-world feel.

Tomorrow, the rest of the beautiful gardens you can see on next week’s tour.