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.

The Dancing Ladies Garden of Linda Ernst: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling


Do you ever fantasize about another gardener living right next door? Linda Ernst and Joanne Fuller are living the fantasy. Aside from being friends and next-door neighbors, they both love to garden, and each tends a beautiful space linked by a friendly gate in back and a continuous path in front. We visited both gardens on the last day of the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, Oregon. I showed you Joanne’s garden last post (visible through the gate, above).


Today I pick up where I left off, by stepping through the steel garden gate and entering Linda’s garden.


Linda is a fused-glass artist, and many of her pieces have a home in her garden, along with a lovely collection of sculptural art. Representations of women figure prominently in her art collection. In fact she calls her garden Dancing Ladies Garden.


The plant combinations are works of art too, with carefully considered color echoes and contrasting textures and shapes.


Linda’s garden was perfection, with room after room of inviting seating areas, beautifully constructed walls and fences, colorful flower beds, and focal-point art. Here’s a covered terrace off the back of the house.


A contemporary orange table gives the space a modern edge.


The aqua glass top on the plinth is one of Linda’s creations, made from shower-door glass, if I recall correctly.


From the covered terrace you look out on a spacious, gravel-floored dining patio. A stacked-stone seat wall curves around back and helps frame a cottagey display of purple coneflowers, towering lilies, rudbeckia, and tall verbena.


A closer look


A stainless steel fountain and L-shaped raised bed add a contemporary note to the scene.


I’m sure that’s one of Linda’s glass pieces “floating” in the fountain.


A stucco wall segues into mossy green fencing along the property line.


Dyckia and a cute little face


One more look at the back garden


After passing under an arbor we enter the driveway, in which cars are kept at bay in favor of more garden seating. I love this side entry, with its mint-green door, tall potted grasses and other assorted potted plants, and purple bistro set — so inviting! The white fencing panel creates privacy from the street and the car-parking side of the driveway.


The raspberry-colored flowers echo the purple table and chairs.


Dancing ladies appear on glass pots…


…and steel art.


Linda has given up parking in her garage in order to create a container garden and patio in the driveway. Everything can be moved if madness takes her and she decides her car needs a roof more than she needs this delightful patio.


Ally and Ricki enjoying the space


A concrete urn planted with succulents makes a classic accent.


A little more modern is this glass birdbath, with variegated yuccas in front.


A closer look


Linda has an extra half-lot next door that gives her space for more garden rooms. An oversized white arbor beckons you onward just past the driveway patio.


Step through and the world goes technicolor.


A container garden in shades of chartreuse, hot pink, and golden yellow elicited oohs from our group. Linda’s fused glass pieces hang on the cattle-panel trellis, which screens a potting bench.


The perimeter fencing, simple wooden posts supporting a wire screen, is given a custom touch with fused-glass post caps. Purple clematis romantically tumbles along the fence.


Here’s Caroline, giving us a sense of scale with the arbor.


Walking back down the paver path: the driveway patio is to the right, and straight ahead is the only patch of lawn in the whole garden. Beyond that, another garden room beckons.


But before we get there, let’s admire the vignettes along the way, like this steel sculpture that hints of a woman’s form, or at least her clothing.


And this green pot tucked into a leafy, green shade garden along the property line, partially screening the neighbor’s house.


But that velvety lawnette entices you forward. Lilies scent the air. Another paver path leads on.


A sculpture at the end of the path is a perfect focal point.


The sculpture is revealed to be a voluptuous torso, elevated on a handsome plinth. The plants, pots, and ceramic balls at left echo its bronze color, while Japanese forest grass adds contrasting chartreuse brightness.


Black beauty!


At left of the torso sculpture is a pair of chartreuse chairs and a steel firepit. The surrounding garden is lush foliage in chartreuse and bronze.


With a little orange thrown in.


Didn’t I see these chairs at Digs Inside & Out, in purple perhaps?


I love this “washer” table, with a ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia on the lower shelf.


Looking back down the path toward the lawnette and the white pergola


Lily


And stepping back a few feet for a longer view of the chartreuse seating and bordering garden


Fabulous!


The path I’m backing down leads to the entry garden.


Here it is. The porch with white columns is Linda’s. Beyond, the house with the chimney belongs to her friend, Joanne.


Linda’s pale-yellow house is a handsome backdrop to the gardens.


Potted hostas flank the porch steps.


A low, bamboo fence separates Linda’s and Joanne’s front gardens. Linda has brightened her side with another ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia on a glass-topped pedestal.


Turning around, at the opening between the friends’ gardens, I take in Linda’s entry garden once more.


Dancing Ladies Garden, so full of exquisite detail, inviting seating, and beautiful plant combos, was definitely one of my favorites on the tour.

Up next: The spectacularly colorful, exotic, and tongue-in-cheek Floramagoria. For a look back at the artful garden of Joanne Fuller, next-door neighbor to Linda Ernst, click here.

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

The artful Fuller Garden: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling


We were treated to two gardens for the price of one on the 3rd day of the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling last month. Friends, gardeners, and art collectors Joanne Fuller and Linda Ernst live next door to each other in a charming older neighborhood, with a friendly gate separating their two gardens in back. Although we freely wandered between the two gardens during our tour, I’ll post about them separately, starting with the smaller Fuller garden, which I explored first.


The house sits well above the street, and you climb steps through a sloping shade garden to reach the house. The front garden is quite small, with a cozy patio (out of frame) and two crinkled, metallic columns standing in the corner — your first clue that an art lover lives here. This is the view from the side path, looking back toward the front garden and the street beyond. The fence that screens Joanne’s garden from her neighbor’s (not Linda’s)…


…is made of plexiglass panels and bamboo — a beautiful design that allows light to pass through and brighten this shady corner.


A narrow path leads alongside the house to a unique gate made of wine barrel hoops and old gardening tools.


Rather than lead to a wide-open patio, deck, or lawn, the path continues to run alongside the fence, with shrubs obscuring most of the garden, when up ahead the path widens…


…into a magical, intimate patio under a tree. Opaque plastic globes hang from the tree like paper lanterns, but they don’t actually light up. Joanne told me she thought they brought a quality of light to the space without electricity or candles. Not only that, but they give the space a party vibe.


Small glass balls in various colors cluster next to two chairs, continuing the globe theme. More is more, folks. More is more.


Sculptural art pieces hang on the vertical-slat fence, and a glass flower, like something out of Avatar, blooms next to the path. I love this space.


An elegant Little and Lewis fountain bubbles and drips amid jungly foliage.


As the path continues along the back of the garden, you move from shade to sun.


An abstract sculpture of a woman stands tall amid flowering perennials and grasses.


At each corner of the garden, a unique space beckons you in. In the back-right corner, it’s this pebble-mosaic, spiral patio. Wow, what a striking design.


Slightly left, you see a cluster of spiraling glass “horns” leaning out of the shrubbery. We saw a lot of glass art like this on the Seattle Fling a few years ago, and I expected to see plenty in the Portland gardens too, but only the Fuller and Ernst gardens had many glass pieces.


A painted fence, which separates Joanne’s garden from Linda’s next door, makes a neutral backdrop for a gorgeous metal trellis made of circles, echoing the shape of the pebble patio.


The path leads at last to the back of the house, where a large deck offers outdoor living and dining space. Gently curving around the deck, a contemporary metal arbor (or was it wood?) stands tall, offering visual separation, structure, and a feeling of enclosure.


A wider view of the deck


A bamboo fence screens the deck from the side path and provides privacy, if needed, from the house next door.


Joanne enjoys colorful accessories, like this blue head pot and red heuchera.


More blue pots filled with succulents grace a metal, leaf-shaped table in the corner.


From the deck you see a pair of blue Little and Lewis columns supporting a slanting, plexi roof over a tiny sitting area, romantically hung with sheer, blue curtains and a lantern.


Just to the left, a gate opens invitingly into Joanne’s neighbor’s garden, which I’ll show in my next post.


No detail is overlooked, and here Joanne creates a living mosaic with short lines of mondo grass, chartreuse sedge, and black mondo grass spaced amid paving stones.


A pretty, sunset-colored vignette echoes a rusty-orange wall.

Up next: The art-filled garden rooms of fused-glass artist Linda Ernst. For a look back at the meadowy Rhone Street Gardens, click here.

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