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.

Design, plant collections and spectacular, larger-than-life sculptures dominate fabulous Fling garden

It’s always interesting to poll Garden Bloggers Fling attendees about their favorite gardens. Some like gardens that showcase collections, some like gardens that highlight design. Personally, I had several favorite gardens at last week’s Fling in Minneapolis. But this one stood out above the rest, filled with beautiful plant selections, gorgeous design and the heart and soul of the artist and gardener who calls this stunning collection home.

Just across the border into the luscious, rolling hills of Wisconsin farmland, Wouterina De Raad’s Concrete Mosaic Sculpture Garden brought it all to the game. Chicken-lover, gardener, artist, and sculptor extraordinaire, De Raad, a self-taught artist, began creating life-size concrete and mosaic sculptures 27 years ago.

Of Dutch heritage, De Raad grew up on her family’s coffee and rubber plantation in Indonesia. She brings life to her sculpture garden by drawing on her upbringing in the Indonesian jungle. Her collection includes statues of jaguars, pythons, and other exotic and mythical creatures. Leading the tour through garden, she regaled us with the folk tales of her childhood, and the stories from her own life that inspired her unique creations.

Welcome to the garden — come on in!

Her love of the garden and all its inhabitants is evident in this oversized Monarch caterpillar bench, complete with the jungle-inspired monkey on its back. And, don’t miss the exotic bird on the monkey’s head.

The intriguing sculpture vignettes of the garden are bound together by pretty pathways and endless beds filled with beautiful blooms, stitched together like a life-sized garden quilt.

The perfect dog breed for the serious gardener. This one won’t dig up bulbs, eat tomatoes or chase chickens! You’d better watch out, Fletcher and Dakota, you could be replaced!

On one end of the charming clothesline, Momma and her young-un try coaxing a chicken off of the pole.

On the other end, Mr. America holds everything in line.

The garden also sports a seemingly endless array of little cottages, sheds, workshops and other quaint buildings, each its own palette for yet another display of De Raad’s artistic talent.

She wove a spell-binding tale about the jaguars in Indonesia as we passed by this building, closely guarded by her sculptural tribute to the fierce cats.

Sadly, my iPhone notes simply read, “jaguar story,” and I can’t remember the details.

I marveled at every turn at her innate ability to transform the most meaningful impressions of her life’s experiences into beauty and art.

The charming chicken coop, complete with its own namesake statues, was full of reused and recycled decor and several beautiful chickens.

I couldn’t really get any good pics of the chicks, and after all, the garden was calling…

But even the quaint bed in front of the chicken run was an art display. I can’ resist – De Raad left no stone unturned in bringing character into this part of the garden. Each of the border stones were given unique expressions, most of them smiling up at garden visitors.

And then, the chicken chair. Who wouldn’t feel like the queen of poultry sitting atop this perch?

With so much to see in this 3-acre garden, visitors can stop and rest at many lovely seating areas. This perennial border dotted with lilies frames the man and dog sculpture in the background. I didn’t catch the story of the body-less head the man is holding, but I’m sure it’s a doozy!

This seating vignette transports me to Alice in Wonderland…

Most of the sculptures in the garden are also lighted. I would have loved to seen this magical place in the evening, with all of De Raad’s concrete family members shining beacons across the garden.

After hours of editing and prepping, this post only skirts the beginning of this amazing garden. So, stay tuned, another post is yet to come!

Art defines stunning garden on Ohio visit to Louise and Kylee…

After visiting Kylee of Our Little Acre ‘s garden in northwest Ohio on Monday, we had a delightful lunch with her mother, Louise, of Two Girls with a Purpose, who many garden bloggers know and remember from so many Garden Bloggers Flings as Kylee’s traveling companion. 

Louise’s garden overflows with beautiful garden art.  From family carvings and creations to blown glass and commissioned art, the art is as much a part of the garden as the plants.

A very recent addition, Louise commissioned the creation of the giant metal scroll in the front garden What a statement as you enter the front walkway.

Sadly, in this photo I accidentally cut off the bird’s head at the top of this sculpture – but here’s a better view of it below.  She’s now having another bird made to replace the one she added to the rocks below the sculpture.

He’s ready for his cousin to come join him.

These gorgeous horizontal planters flank the front door.  Welcome!

Bright blue glass globes light up this little bed.

 This colorful vertical planter adds Garden Up interest to the brick wall.

A quiet little corner of her side bed evokes a zen-like feeling with this iron pot (originally from China), junipers, conifers and the gentle Buddha.

As we strolled around the beds, this looked like a wonderful place to take a rest.

Oops, can’t sit there!  How clever.

Water features adorn her garden around every corner – whimsical places for birds to drink and bathe.

The sculptural pruning of this tree creates a lovely backdrop for the roses and grasses.

 After the rains, these drooping pine needles and cones were stunning.  I so wish we could grow some of these evergreens in Austin.  I have tree envy.

As we wandered further into the garden, Louise said it was really wet and we should take off our shoes.  I can’t tell you how absolutely delightful it was to walk through the soft, cool grass.  Without fear of vicious fire ants, cracked earth, limestone rocks or other unpleasant creatures.  It took me back to my childhood and time spent on my Mammaw and Pappaw’s farm in Kentucky – running barefoot through the wispy Kentucky blue grass. 

 Hmmm…the perfect idea for using extra pavers or bricks.

 A little protected outside nook houses more art.

 How many garden decor items can you count in this sweet vignette?

Frog antics in yet another birdbath.

 Oh my, ferns and heuchera and creeping jenny and a mushroom!  All familiar things I enjoy in my garden, too.

 I recognize that — it’s a giant saucer hibiscus — not the same variety as mine, but just as tall.

The blooms were really putting on a show for us.

One of my favorite color combinations.  Can you tell which one of these purple blooms is a piece of metal garden art and which is a spent allium?

And around the corner to another little peaceful space with moving art that Louise bought when we were at the fling in Seattle.

 This I loved — Kylee and her mom both had one of these trellises – one of  Kylee’s  Lowe’s projects.

 Birdbath and sculpture all in one.

 A brief glimpse through the trees.

 This looks like a great place to sit with an iced tea and ponder your next garden project.

 Another long view of the bed border with the succulent chair on the very right.

And now for a big garden room for spending the afternoon with friends.

 Although, those swings look like they’d be perfect for napping!

 These glass balls, created by a local artist, include textured pieces that allow butterflies to land on them.

 Precious little details on the posts of the garden room.

What a cool planter hanging in the garden room – and another interesting vertical focal point.

Love these rudbeckias — I might have to try to find some for my garden.

More places for bird to drink.

This intricately-carved man standing watch over the garden was carved by someone in Louise’s family but I can’t remember if it was her father or Kylee’s father – Louise?

So many lovely vignettes and creative ideas greeted me throughout this garden.  Louise’s personality and love for art was evident everywhere I turned. 

Next, a tour of the amazing Children’s Garden and park that Louise helped plan and create in her home town.

Old-world patina of New Orleans style captured in inviting Houston tour garden…

Last weekend,  my friend and fellow blogger, Pam Penick, traveled to Houston for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day’s Tour.   This was probably my favorite house on the tour.

Located in the posh River Oaks, the New Orleans-style theme of the home was carried throughout the multi-layered gardens surrounding it.  The old brick, wrought iron and garden charm of plants typically found in old gardens really appealed to me.

 Not only was the wisteria cascading down the front balcony beautiful, its heady scent helped to set the mood for the tour visitors.

This garden incorporated many different garden elements of style.  There were several areas with cottage-style layering like this front bed.

Houston gets much more rain than we do here in Austin.  While tour volunteers told us that they’d had temperatures down to 20* this winter, the gardens sure didn’t show it.  Most of them were filled with stunning azaleas, one of the hallmarks of the tour, but we also saw gorgeous delphiniums in many of the gardens.  Tall and majestic, and blue — they stood tall and proud — like exclamation points.

As ubiquitous as the azaleas, the sweet smell of citrus greeted us in almost every garden.  Lush with blooms or fruit, they made me long for a more tropical climate — and an orange or a lime or a kumquat!

An amazing pool was the centerpiece of the back yard.  With its palms, negative edge and geometric shape, it provided a different aesthetic in this part of the garden.

Several interesting statues and works of art were nestled around the grounds, like this camel carrying an obelisk.

This rhino was tucked into a far corner of the garden, down a long, winding path.  He seemed oddly out of place to me, but perhaps he represents something special to the owners.  That’s one of the joys of gardening – creating a space that reflects your personality and style, but also creating a space that is intentional and has meaning.  So, I decided to embrace the rhino.

And then across the grounds, another area with that French quarter feel – the foliage covered brick wall and the dark iron fountain as a focal point from afar.

There weren’t as many people on the tour when we started – we’re always tour-eager early birds.  These two volunteers had finished their work at another tour site and sat down to chat when they arrived to see this garden.  It certainly was the kind of peaceful garden that invited you to sit and admire it.

On the side lawn, another vine-laden fence — this one serving as the backdrop for a piece of sculpture.  The garden was so inviting, even the sculpture felt welcome to lounge on the grass.

 Another view of the fountain – beautifully crafted space with layers of color, texture and contrast.

This is the view from the sculpture side of the garden across the pool – looking into an enclosed pavillion-like space for entertaining.

The garden was also filled with several lush, plant-lined paths, leading mysteriously to another garden nook.

 Behind the wall and fountain is another treat — a more elaborately-designed space.

This aged king of the jungle was guarding the area – his mossy patina as inviting and interesting as the walls he was protecting.

 A closer look at the fountain on the other side and its little orange occupants, who all seemed to be very happy with their home in this beautiful garden.

Back through another secret pathway, lined again with a mix of plants — including this striking and sculptural agave.  It seemed to lure visitors in, while at the same time warning them not to get too close.

 This bucking horse seemed to be ready to romp around the garden.

 I love the look for old New Orleans gardens, with their old, mossy brick courtyards, fountains and wrought iron.  Although this estate was huge, it was designed with inviting spaces and elements that gave it a more personal and intimate feel.

A garden with a view…

It was a picture perfect morning in a hillside garden overlooking Lake Washington just outside of Seattle. Our first stop of the day on the Seattle Fling, we began at the award-winning home of Michelle and Christopher Epping.

It was hard to know at where to look — at the beautiful garden, the glistening blue lake or the skyline of Seattle on the horizon.
The garden was a filled to the brim with vibrant colors and textures.

Several different pathways led through secret garden areas with statues and other interesting objects tucked into the landscape for discovery by garden visitors.
The garden was sprinkled with giant mounds of Hakonechloa, Japanese Forest Grass, seen here against a stunning sky-blue Hydrangea and a burgundy Japanese Maple in the background.
One little path led to a wooden bench that offered us a rest and a different perspective from which to admire the garden. Pam of Digging and Kylee of Our Little Acre took a little break with me in the shade.
The garden was also filled with whimsical cedar sculptures carved by the owner’s father.
What an inspiring way to start the day!