Lush hillside garden delights bloggers at Fling

Filled with a seemingly endless array of textures, colors, and forms, Barbara Katz’s garden provided a cool oasis on a hot summer day at the Garden Bloggers Fling in DC and Norther Virginia.

The back yard, filled with plants, stone and a babbling brook, evoked a Zen-like peacefulness.

The koi added a pop of color to the pond.

Japanese maples, decorative stone and conifers create a blend of beautiful textures.

This combo of bold colors is echoed in many different kinds of plants with similar hues.

The containers highlighted the same vibrant contrasts she wove into her garden.


Bloggers flocked up the steps into the upper lever of the garden.

At the top of the garden, a bench is tucked away waiting to provide a place to enjoy a contemplative moment.

This realistic iguana required a second look as we strolled through the garden.

Lush paths lead around the side of the house.

Bloggers spread out around the front yard, looking for the best shot of this cottage-style garden.

This unique and beautifully designed garden – cottage in the front and  Zen in the back, was delightful.

Garden Bloggers Fling cottage-style garden of Casa Mariposa

Long, hot days and late nights aside, the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling, held two weekends ago in the Northern Virginia/DC area, had it all.  Surrounded by friends old and new, we toured botanical gardens, private gardens and the many gardens along the National Mall in D.C.

The Fling team did a fabulous job of hosting and things ran like clockwork.  Our chief organizer and hostess writes a garden blog at Casa Mariposa.  We were all excited to see her garden in person.

This quaint arbor and gate mark the entrance to the back garden.

The back garden was overflowing with a rainbow of blooms .

The back was a pollinator’s paradise,

Sweet birdhouses dotted the garden.

A collection of pots and garden art lined the back steps into the house.

A dry creek helps with drainage and provides a hardscape contrast to the delicate flowers.

The shady parts of the garden are brightened by variegated plants.

Bloggers, bloggers everywhere!

I may have to steal this clever idea.  Since dogs always want to run the fence line, we need to work with them, not against them! A cleverly concealed little fence gives the dogs room to run to their hearts’ content without tearing through the beds.

I loved all of the complimentary and contrasting colors in her garden.  I think this combination was my favorite. Opposites really do attract!

Stayed tuned for many more posts about the beautiful Fling gardens.

Cistus nursery delights gardeners at Portland Fling…

Our third stop on the first day of the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling was Cistus Nursery.  Coming from the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which was serene and peaceful, Cistus provided a bold contrast — it was chock full of plants – a sensory explosion for plant lovers.

There were many familiar plants at the nursery, like these Yucca rostrata, which grow happily at home in Austin, Texas.

 I did say chock full, didn’t I?

 But some of the Cistus family were uninterested in visiting bloggers.

“Yeah, I see you, but it’s hot and it feels good here on these cold bricks, so I hope  you don’t mind if I don’t get up to greet you!”

 Oh, so true!  It should have said, “gaggle of plant nerds!”

 I’m smitten with interesting tree bark and there were several great trees to photograph.

 Love these Eryngium — their dramatic spiky blooms provide unique texture in any garden bed.

 Dramatic grasses billowed in the breeze.

While it was easy to become engrossed in the plants on the ground and the tables, the impressive views extended to some of the majestic trees that love the Pacific Northwest.

There were many different species of Eucomis in the gardens and nurseries in Portland.  I’ve been  babying one in my own garden at home for some time.  Forced to suffer the scorching heat and the periodic nibbling deer, it is tough as nails.  Hmmmm…. and thus began the idea of taking another one home with me…

I saw this plant all over the Portland gardens — Melianthus major.  Big, bold, textured and tough, it really caught my eye.  I took several photos of it, fully intent on finding one for my garden at home.  But after some research yesterday, I’ve decided it might be too invasive in my garden…but maybe I can keep one in a pot!

 Another favorite in my garden, Euphorbia.

 Flingers in search of treasure.

 More interesting bark.

And these crocosmia were everywhere.  Their beautiful strappy leaves combined with vibrant blooms add a real pop to any garden setting.

 More amazing Erygnium.

 Reaching for the sun.

Being a salvia collector, I’m going to have to try to find one of these in Austin for my garden — Salvia guar. ‘Argentine skies.’

Even the growing heat couldn’t keep us from fanning out across the nursery in search of garden goodies.  Some bloggers left with plants.  I left with something almost as good — ideas!

Beautiful Westwind Farms vista — the backdrop of a colorful prairie-style garden…

The scent emerging from rows and rows of lavender and other wildflowers wafted around us as we descended down a hillside path into the Westwind Farm Studio.

Incorporating a stunning vista, beautiful meadows, sculptures and a refreshing pool, this Garden, nestled in the hills outside of Portland, provided a refreshing stop during the Garden Bloggers Fling tour.

 The view beyond the majestic pines war beautiful.

 Rows and rows of lavender and other wildflowers marked our walk to the house and garden.

 The meadow frames this picture-perfect view.

 Swaths of flowers greet you as you enter the garden.

 Crocosmia were blooming in almost every garden that we toured in Portland.

 And we wouldn’t want to forget the day lilies,

 or the monarda.

 A little toe dip felt very refreshing on this warm day.

 This sculpture was fascinating — and perfectly paired with these blooms.

 On the hillside behind the pool more flowers weave a blanket of color.

All the garden bloggers were taken with the sculpture, including Ally of Garden Ally, one of the members of our Texas contingent.

 Pick your view from this side of the sculptural window.  This one…

 or this one…

The grasses and the seed heads and blooms billow with the hillside breezes.

 The view was as invigorating as the cool pool waters.

 Even the pool house bathroom came with an artistic touch.

 Great views of the gardens and the vista, both outside and in.

 The amazing backdrop goes on and on.

Nestled in a lovely hillside, this garden offered us a unique side of the Portland area.  It inspired and delighted us all. 

Friends at the Fling – Garden Bloggers in Asheville 2012

My garden blogging friends who’ve never been to any of the five Garden Bloggers Flings often ask me, “what’s it like?” That’s a complicated answer because each Fling is so different — geography, itinerary, participants, weather — all play a factor. I love touring the gardens, both private and public, but it’s the people that make the Flings so special.

Since helping with the first Fling held here in Austin 5 years ago, I’ve had the good fortune to attend all the subsequent Flings in Chicago, Buffalo, Seattle and now, Asheville. It’s exciting to see so many of my garden blogging friends and to meet new ones each year.

So, this post is about the people at this year’s Asheville, N.C. Fling. I simply can’t name everyone in each of the photos, so I’ve not included names or blogs because I didn’t want to leave anyone out. My memory just isn’t what it used to be! As you read this post, though, please identify yourself and your blog in your comment back to me to jog my memory and let others find you.

Trekking up the hill to discover stone and garden goodies as Wamboldtopia.

Discussing the stonework at Wamboldtopia.

Listening to Christopher Mello explain about his special blue poppy.

At the cheerful entrance to the Sunny Point Gardens.

Perusing the rows and rows of beautiful veggies and herbs.

Everyone appreciated the drinks and snacks as we toured the gardens.

We all got time to visit over delicious bbq lunch at the gardens of Curve Studios.

Planking at the N.C. Arboretum!

Making a close inspection to verify a plant ID.

Enjoying snacks at the BB Barnes Nursery reception.

Our hosts at BB Barnes were so gracious and the nursery was a delight to wander through…so much cool stuff.

Shopping, eating, drinking and chatting — BB Barnes had it all.

It was so hard to decide where to start in the fabulous Gentling garden.

Is this a familiar pose, or what?

Comparing notes in the Gentling garden.

Taking a little rest after exploring all around the grounds.

There was so much to see at the Biltmore gardens.

And the view of the mountains and the countryside was spectacular.  With that breeze, I could have stayed there all day.

Nothing like a little champagne to rehydrate on a warm day!

The Community College gardens were so peaceful and tranquil — and so enjoyable with friends on a quiet Sunday morning.

A garden path less traveled…

On Sunday we finally got to join our host, Christopher, of Outside Clyde, at his mountain top garden, Ku’ulei’Aina, (which means My Beloved Land) and his mother’s neighboring garden, Bonnie Brae (as the steep mountain path winds). It was a beautiful, warm day, filled with sunshine and the sweet smell of green on the mountain top. We started with a delicious fresh lunch outside and then scattered about like little beetles, seeking a path less traveled to explore between the two quaint cottages.

 This cairn at the entrance to the property gives guests a rustic welcome.

Christopher built the house, which is literally perched on the mountainside. 

We all listen to the history of the two houses and gardens and get our guidance for winding through the mountain paths.

I didn’t get the history of this old fireplace, but I’m sure it has stories to tell of days gone by.

I couldn’t stop looking at the azaleas.  The early spring meant there weren’t very many still in bloom.  We did see quite a few of the tangerine-colored ones — I assume they bloom a little bit later.

Nestled in the very green of the woods were clusters of every kind of flower imaginable.  Some of them just popping up on the mountain, countless numbers of others, carefully yet randomly planted to contribute to the natural look and feel of the winding paths.

This is Christopher’s mother’s deck.  The view was incredible – I’m sure every post has the next picture in it.  Carol, of May Dreams Gardens is sure to have one in her post!  Though I didn’t photograph it, I did enjoy sitting on another small circular deck, a few steps down from this one and under the canopy of some beautiful trees.

On our way back over to Christopher’s we were all impressed with this huge boulder with the stream running out from under it. 

His stone labyrinth was inviting and I’m sure all 93 of us took a turn wandering through it.

I caught this little guy trying to crash our party.  We were all having such a wonderful time, I don’t think anyone else noticed!

THANK YOU, Christopher, and your whole team, for a wonderful Fling and for sharing your own garden with us all.  It was amazing and I’m so glad to have been able to see it firsthand.