garden bloggers fling

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.

Chinese garden is an oasis in the heart of downtown Portland

The second stop on the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling was the city’s Chinese garden, located right in the heart of the downtown bustle of Portland.  It encompasses an entire city block.  Entering the garden, you leave behind the bus fumes, honking horns and scads of people click clacking their heels on the way to work.

 Waiting for the doors to open.

 I’m not sure if this statue was greeting us or trying to keep us away!

 Intricate stone work greeted us as we walked into the garden.

It takes your breath away.  This pearl nestled among skyscrapers provides a welcome respite from city life.The view across the lake makes you feel like you’ve become a time traveler to a faraway land.

 I love the lines and the curves of all the pagodas.

 I can only imagine how long it took carvers to create some of these intricate pieces.

 Beautiful details adorn even the windows.

The point of this pagoda roof looks almost menacing as it peeks out from the trees.

Garden bloggers fan out to check out all the sights.

The sounds from this waterfall add to the spiritual sense in this garden.

 Inspirational writings adorn the rocks along side the waterfall.  I wish I knew their meaning.

The entire garden surrounded this lake.  The blooming water lilies made me think of Monet’s garden and paintings.

A tea room on the grounds offered a resting place from some bloggers. But with the growing warmth and humidity of the day, I passed on the hot tea.

 This clever pepper-shaped window offered a glimpse into the neighboring courtyard.

 The courtyard is framed here by a life-sized circle.

 Our visit to this garden was a beautiful and peaceful start to our day.

And a peek into the distance revealed the glint of the city lurking with its modern skyscrapers as we left the garden.

A gardener’s wish list of styles, all in one Portland garden

Last month’s Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland offered something for everyone.  There were many different gardens, ranging from cottage style to tropical.

The Old Germantown Gardens found its way onto my favorites list because it was one-stop shopping.  (Well, not literally shopping, though we did a lot of that on the Fling, too. ) Winding paths, perennial beds, a rock garden, ponds, a dry hillside garden, tropical plants and a collection of seating areas were scattered about the 2-acre property. A mere 23 years in the making, the gardeners brought the design and their plant collections together beautifully.

 The vista from the front of the house beckons you into the garden.

 Winding paths entice you into the diverse gardens and vignettes.

In spite of the broad swaths of color and texture and form, stunning individual blooms reached out to me in many places throughout this garden.

Something new and unique waited around every corner and down each path.

Ah, a lovely place to rest and enjoy the garden.

 But I didn’t dally here – too much more to see!

The woodland garden was a treat for me – the cool, shady path provided a welcome relief from the hot sun and in Austin, Texas, a garden like this is rare.

 I’m always delighted by the conifers in the Pacific Northwest.

Another path leading to more garden goodies.

I saw these plants in the nursery in Portland and on someone’s blog post.  The color combination absolutely wowed me. 

And there were daylilies everywhere.  Tall daylilies, short daylilies, bright daylilies, pale daylilies.

Then there was a drier garden, fille with plants that I recognized.

And some tropical colors started appearing in the garden.

Doesn’t everyone need a waterfountain in the middle of the garden for a refreshing drink while you are weeding?!

Ah – Eucomis – I have one at home and bought one at the nursery the previous night.  Love them.

And another familiar sight – cacti with beautiful blooms.

 And then there were the real tropicals – love these hot, popping colors.

 And a greenhouse full of special plants.

It was a delightful garden with so much to see and enjoy.  The best kind of garden for a tour – one in which every path leads to a new garden adventure.

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.

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.