Succulent and cactus container garden thrives under Death Star: August Foliage Follow-Up

Two months ago I acquired another steel pipe remnant and set it in the gravel garden by the front door. There it sat empty for nearly 8 weeks as I traveled and debated what to plant in it. Finally, taking my own advice not to plant anything in August except cactus, I decided on an opuntia.

I was one of only two customers at The Natural Gardener yesterday at 5 pm in 102 F heat. Blech. Well, the Death Star can set its laser beam on high and still not harm this cute bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys). ‘Jaws’ agave, next to it, doesn’t mind the heat either, although it may have a little sunburn. Behind both is a beautiful pine muhly (Muhlenbergia dubia), a passalong from Michael at Plano Prairie Garden.

This is becoming quite a spiky forest. I need to stop.

I did pick up one more little cactus for my sadly underplanted steel wall planter, Coahuila lace cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus var. coahuila).

Well, that helps a little. Birds have been nipping leaf-pads off the ghost plant. Grr.

In contrast, my Hover Dish planter has filled out beautifully this summer. The tall succulent is blue chalk fingers (Senecio vitalis), with a graptoveria and jelly bean plant (Sedum rubrotinctum) beneath and ‘Blue Spruce’ sedum spilling over the edge.

Foxtail fern (Asparagus meyeri) and a dyckia add more fun foliage below.

Also out front, along the driveway, this chartreuse cloud of bamboo muhly (Muhlenberia dumosa) caught my eye yesterday afternoon. What a beautiful light-catcher!

So what lovely leaves are making you happy in your August garden? Please join me for Foliage Follow-Up, giving foliage plants their due on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. I really appreciate it if you’ll also include a link to this post in your own post (sharing link love!). If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Garden magic and whimsy at Floramagoria: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling

As we entered the intriguingly named Floramagoria garden on the recent Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, thunder rumbled and raindrops pelted our group of 40 or so bloggers. The reasonable — and hungry — among us ran for the two covered pavilions with box lunches in hand. The die-hard photographers, however, saw the brief shower as an opportunity to get softly lit images with few people in them. You know which group I was in. Oh boy, did this garden deliver on wow moments, perfectly framed views, bold foliage, flower-power color, whimsy and naughty humor. Let me give you a rainy-day tour.

I’ll start with the most mouth-dropping view: the axis from the owners’ back door to the orange back wall. Poured concrete laid in geometric blocks widens and narrows, creating distinct spaces and slowing the foot and eye with inset beds like this grassy parterre…

…and a mosaic floral “rug.” Its colors reappear in the pumpkin-colored wall, turquoise pots and chairs, cobalt-glass fire pit, and golden and green flora.

The mosaic “rug” is a tapestry of flowers, leaves, and insects and an absolute work of art.

The enormous, mossy gunnera leaf is a Little and Lewis piece. (We saw another of these in the Lane Garden at the Seattle Fling.) In concert with bold-leaf, tropical plants like brugmansia, castor bean, and banana, not to mention a bamboo dining pavilion to the right, this area feels like an exotic garden carved out of jungle rain forest.

Temps were cool on this day, and one of the owners lit the fire pit when we arrived.

Like exotic gateposts flanking the entry to the fire pit patio, stone shrines on pedestals contain…baby heads! (What is it with baby heads these days? I saw a whole day care’s worth at Digs Inside & Out.) A mix of golden bog plants surrounds this shrine, including cattails and pitcher plants.

Carnivorous flora with questing mouths

The cross-axis running through the grassy parterre (shown in the top photo) creates a different effect, less tropical and more English-style perennial border. A covered deck, just visible at left, adjoins the house and provides a place to enjoy the garden even during the rainy months (or on summer days like this).

Gosh, which way to turn? Let’s take a closer look at the contemporary covered deck. Steel posts support a triangular metal roof, and a blue plexiglass wall provides shelter, privacy, and mood lighting.

A quick peek at the back: translucent, blue plexi panels admit light and reflect drooping conifers.

Wait — is that our Fling host, Scott of Rhone Street, manhandling a mannequin? Hmm, I guess what happens at the Fling doesn’t always stay at the Fling. But I am opting not to show the seating area of the covered deck, which was jam-packed with bloggers eating their lunches. Nope, no one wants to be photographed while chewing. Just over Scott’s shoulder…

…is a beautiful porch light — a bug with 3-D wings and antennae.

Another one. Aren’t these marvelous? Bugs are a decorative motif at Floramagoria.

As are gnomes. This one is a bit naughty.

Oh look — tentacles! I’m definitely detecting a Digs/JJ De Sousa influence here.

The view from the deck. Hefty bamboo poles, painted orange, add spiky structure and year-round color. Rudbeckia makes a cheery color echo.

Panning right, purples take over.

And here’s a wider view across the garden. That’s the tropical cabana at upper-left, which I’ll show you soon. Believe it or not, this garden is only 3 years old. The owners tore out their former, 10-year-old back garden in order to rework it with the help of designer Laura Crockett of Garden Diva Designs. That takes guts. I’d love to have seen before-and-after pics.

A metal-grate bench runs along the perimeter of the deck.

The deck overlooks a patio accessed via large glass doors in the living room.

A clean-lined metal arbor frames the view, and string lights create a party atmosphere, as does music piped through the garden. Can you imagine looking out at this view from your living room?

Looking slightly right

Painted-stucco seat walls define the patio and provide plenty of display space. More babies! More pitcher plants too.

Fiery coleus, in pots to match

In this longer view, you can really appreciate the magnitude of their potted-plant display.

Succulents and cacti in soft-blue pots are lined up along much of the wall, where the garden segues into a dry garden.

In the corner, terracotta pots add complementary orange, while chunks of slag glass continue the blue theme.

This is one way a collector can cut loose in a garden with a strong design: unify a collection with similar pots and display them en masse.

The dry garden starts on one side of the patio…

…and runs along the foundation.

An aloe in a pot to match

Spiky agave next to an olla

Turning to the left and looking down the path toward the side fence, I stopped to admire a tall Yucca rostrata. But what really grabbed me was another Little and Lewis piece (I think) by the fence.

Like an egg out of Alien, the “petals” of this floral-style container open to reveal pitcher plants tucked inside. The surrounding plants make up a stunning vignette.

More pitchers are planted in a spherical container.

And more yet

A Little and Lewis bench offers a spot to enjoy the scene.

But the star of this area is a Little and Lewis column-fountain centered in a terracotta raised pond, framed by a cobalt-blue wall. Shazam!

Vying for fabulousness is this focal-point pot in the center of the gravel garden. I have no idea what the plants are — but I LOVE them. Update: The plants are Melianthus underplanted with Begonia boliviensis. Thanks, Vanessa!

Notice the little pots of succulents and sea-green slag glass alternating around the base of the container.

In all its wide-view glory

Big moments like the focal-point pots, fountain, and cabanas may elicit the most oohs and aahs, but numerous, smaller details are what really add personality to Floramagoria, from pots tucked here and there…

…to fun tiles set in the paths…

…to plastic dinosaurs rampaging among the beetles and ants. Even with a collection of high-brow art like the Little and Lewis pieces, the gnomes and dinos indicate that the owners don’t take themselves or their garden too seriously.

It’s a place of discovery and delight.

A greenhouse gives the owners a place to overwinter their tender plants. But is there room for them all, I wonder?

During the warm, dry summer months, it’s a place to display a few treasures with the doors wide open. A working chandelier is dressed up with tillandsias tucked among the crystals.

I like this glass pyramid paired with steely blue eryngium.

Astrantia and Japanese forest grass, two Pacific NW plants I lust for

The back side of the cobalt wall is painted mossy green and hung with staghorn ferns.

An enormous Douglas fir or redwood (not sure which) puts this garden in deep shade. Hostas, ferns, and other shade plants complete the woodland look. Quirky art like a hanging UFO and Marcia Donahue “necklace” add personality.

Is this a birdhouse?

Colorful bug paver

You can enter the tropical pavilion, at left, from the shade garden.

A spacious seating and dining area is sheltered by a bamboo-framed roof. Over the table hangs a striking metal light fixture.

The hosts generously provided us with cookies and lemonade here.

Fun, fused-glass bugs crawl over chunky wooden spheres in one corner of the cabana.

Heading out through the tropical, colorful garden, I catch Barbara of bwisegardening snapping some shots too.

Behind the deck in the side garden is one of the funnier displays at Floramagoria: a wooden duck “diving” into a succulent-planted birdbath.

In the window of a rustic garden shed, a curious chicken peers out.

Inside, a tidy display

Bouquets in glass jars add a cheery note.

This is a happier phrase in Portland than in Austin, I think.

The rest of the side yard is devoted to beekeeping and edibles in stock tanks.

Glass bees on stakes surround a yellow beehive.

Out front, it’s another world entirely: naturalistic rather than formally designed, serene rather than quirky, green rather than colorful.

It’s very beautiful too, of course, but you’d never know what awaits you in back.

Every space is gardened up, including this side strip along the driveway.

A modest but patriotic front entry and grilling station

I adored the metal art found throughout the garden.

This metal ribbon reminds me of Scott’s metal pieces at Rhone Street Gardens.

One last glimpse of a colorful vignette from the back garden, and it’s time to end this lengthy virtual tour. Floramagoria was one of my very favorite gardens on the Portland Fling, full of personality, color, wit, and strong design of both plants and hardscape.

Up next: The surprisingly xeric, experimental, and contemporary garden of John Kuzma. For a look back at the inviting, art-filled Dancing Ladies Garden of Linda Ernst, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Splendor in the grass at Rhone Street Gardens: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling

The 3rd and final day of touring on the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, Oregon, dawned cool and misty — exactly what Portland should be, at least according to heat-shunning me. After two days of unusual heat, I was thrilled, even when it started to thunder and rain began to spatter at our first stop, Rhone Street Gardens.

Rhone Street is the tiny, tightly packed, meadowy garden of Scott Weber, whose blog, also called Rhone Street Gardens, always delights me with his luminescent photography and light-hearted humor.

Like Loree of Danger Garden, while serving as unflappable co-host of the Portland Fling, Scott somehow managed to groom his garden to perfection and opened it to the 80 or so bloggers on the tour. And one stray hen.

Scott’s garden is on a sunny (when it’s not raining) corner lot.

Let’s start our tour at the driveway, which is a parking zone not for cars but for plants in all manner of galvanized containers, plus a shiny, metal-sided shed topped with a green roof.

Look what you can grow on a shallow, exposed roof in Portland’s mild climate: airy grasses and tall verbena. I love the light-reflecting metal siding on the shed.

Looking down, you see how Scott blended the driveway paving into the back path and patio. Shiny galvanized steel glints throughout the garden on pots, edging materials, and the shed.

Scott’s plants tend to be soft, airy, and billowy, like this Verbena bonariensis — such a contrast to his co-host’s “dangerously” spiny garden.

Looking the other way, down the path toward the back fence, white lilies and an arching, blond-flowering grass catch your eye.

Seating for two: a small, wooden table and two chairs tucked into the feathery grasses is the main focal point for the tiny back patio, which is essentially an enlargement of the path where it turns the corner.

Perfection! Even if Scott never sits here (and I suspect he’s always too busy photographing or actually gardening to sit down), this is such an inviting seating area and serene focal point framed by grasses, lilies, and other flowering plants.

A wider view

I would never have thought to plant a grass in a small, cylindrical pot, but it works wonderfully.

Those white lilies, ‘Silver Scheherazade’, are scene stealers.

The delightful Ricki of Sprig to Twig blog (also from Portland) color-coordinated with them.

‘Sarabande’ lily smiles down on pink astrantia, a plant I absolutely covet.

I like the silver-white foliage of this plant. A thistle, perhaps? It’s probably the spikiest plant in Scott’s garden.

Moving out front, Scott has gardened up every inch of the narrow strips running alongside his house, packing them densely with grasses, flowering perennials, and a few shrubs and small trees.

Both sides of the sidewalk are gardened, and as you walk down the sidewalk you want to reach out your hands and brush the soft, billowing plants on each side.


Purple coneflower

And looky there — it’s the always cheerful Janet of The Queen of Seaford, who blogs from my childhood hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina.

Scott’s garden is a gift to the neighborhood as well as a pleasure ground for himself (and the neighboring cats).

Scott shies away from garden art that calls attention to itself, preferring instead metal pieces that resemble flower buds or seedpods…

…unfurling fern fronds…

…and cattails.

The ballerina-skirted Echinacea pallida dances with a white verbascum.

Seedhead of Scabiosa ochroleuca

Scott boldly places a few containers right out by the street. I love this color-echoing combo of a bronze potato vine and a grass (rush?) with dark seedheads.

And this one — bronze, purple, and chartreuse, such a Pacific Northwest color scheme.

Another lovely, tawny-flowered grass

Sinuous spires of agastache and verbascum

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Boots, Scott’s cat, surveys his domain from the front porch. Next to him, a pretty rain chain dangles from the eave.

When it rains, it fills a water-storage barrel, coming in handy during dry stretches in the summer.

Tucked against the house is Scott’s new, second sitting area. Screened by plants and partially hidden from passersby, it affords a quiet view of the street.

And here’s Scott, the man behind all this meadowy beauty.

It was a huge treat to visit Scott’s garden in person after seeing it on his blog for so long. Many thanks, Scott, for sharing it with us!

Up next: The artful Joanne Fuller Garden, one of a neighboring pair we visited. For a look back at the charming, colorful Chickadee Gardens, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.