Loree Bohl’s Danger Garden: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling


One of the most anticipated gardens on the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, Oregon, recently was Danger Garden, the plant-lustful playground of one of our hosts, Loree of Danger Garden blog fame.


With an adoration for spiny, spiky, and bold-foliage plants and an artistic eye for design and for container styling, not to mention the discipline to hew to a restricted but high-impact color palette of orange, lime green, black, and silver, Loree’s garden is a visual treat, with jewel-box vignettes at every turn.


Of course on this occasion there were forty jewelers with loupes inspecting and admiring each and every facet. Half our group at a time descended on Loree’s small garden, making for an elbow-jostling viewing experience. At least one blogger accidentally met an agave, spine to leg, proving that Danger Garden is well named.


And she was a total sport about it because the thrill of danger is, well, thrilling.


This was my second time to see Loree’s stunning garden.


I last visited Danger Garden three years ago, just before the Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling, to which we drove together from Loree’s house.


On that visit, the garden was all mine to photograph (rubs hands together greedily).


This time it was more of a party!


I enjoyed seeing how the garden has evolved…


…and grown since my last visit.


Some areas, like her orange shade pavilion, are as I remember them.


Others are new since then, like this container garden, stock-tank pond, and fence where a hedge once stood.


Decorative elements, like this dish planter on a pedestal (one of a trio), have also been added (click the link for Loree’s how-to).


Loree’s front garden, a sloping former lawn that she’s converted into a drought-tolerant gravel garden, was newly planted when I visited three years ago. Since then it has filled in beautifully and was aglow with afternoon light when we visited.


Giving the plants a run for their money in terms of camera attention, however, was Lila, aka Pony, companionably relaxing in the arms of Andrew, Loree’s husband and garden assistant and all-around nice guy.


And here’s the whole charming family. Thank you, Loree, for sharing your garden with the Flingers and for co-hosting a truly excellent Portland Fling!

Up next: The bold, orange-crush, whimsical garden of JJ De Sousa. For a look back at serene, green Portland Japanese Garden, click here.

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

Coneflower and tower power at the Wildflower Center


Evening hours last Thursday at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center drew me to the gardens like a moth to flame. And flaming hot it was too — about 97 F (36.1 C) when I arrived at 5 pm. You may already know this about me: despite my love of Austin and central Texas, I’m as much of a heat wimp as someone from Vermont. Most of my Texas garden and state park visits (and posts), therefore, occur during fall, winter, and spring, when the weather is pleasantly cool or at least not broiling.


But the fact is, many of our native plants love the heat. They’re born to it, you might say, and not only survive but thrive in it. While many Austin gardeners view summer as a season of planning rather than active gardening (certainly not planting), our gardens are anything but dormant. At the Wildflower Center last week, their gardens were positively bursting with color and lush growth.


The garden was open late for Nature Nights, which is geared to kids and families. These boys were investigating the pond in the main courtyard, framed by curtains of tall grasses.


A blaze of color attracted my eye to a trumpet creeper vine (Campsis radicans) climbing an arbor. The Wildflower Center describes this vine as an aggressive colonizer, so I’ll be admiring this one from afar.


Strolling to the new Family Garden along with most of the other visitors, I stopped to admire a new garden awash in brilliant coneflowers and soft-blue salvia.


Black-eyed Susans and mealy blue sage


A swath of tall black-eyed Susans stood out against shorter perennials.


Their golden-yellow petals caught the late-afternoon light, as wands of red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) gently bobbed in the background.


Looking back I enjoyed this view of the Wildflower Center’s iconic, spiraling cistern-tower, with wildflowers carpeting the foreground.


At the back of the administrative building, I spotted this handsome combination of Texas nolina (Nolina texana) spilling over a rock wall, with the Mickey Mouse ears of a spineless prickly pear above it.


The prickly pear flowers are burnt-gold and surprisingly ruffly.


From another angle it gets even better, with a zexmenia (Wedelia texana) adding to the gold color scheme, its narrow leaves contrasting with the spaghetti-like nolina and muscular pad structure of the prickly pear.


Farther along the path, a billowing cloud of Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) seems to float in front of more mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea).


After exploring the Family Garden (click for my post), I entered the central gardens again, passing this peaceful bench and vine-draped arbor.


In the butterfly garden I admired the Koosh ball-like flowers of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).


Or maybe it looks like a pincushion?


The Demonstration Garden was nearly deserted, despite the glowing beauty of the late afternoon light.


Of course I had to stop for the stock-tank pond and planters.


I think this is a Habiturf lawn in the Traditional Homeowner Inspiration Garden. It looks quite nice for a lawn that needs little, if any, supplemental water and seldom needs mowing.


Another view of the cistern-tower, this time from the cafe gardens. Visitors can climb right up a spiraling stair to take in the view from the top.


A nodding sunflower bids farewell until next time.

To read my post about Nature Nights at the Luci & Ian Family Garden at the Wildflower Center, click here.

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

Coneflower cornucopia and other garden delights


The garden photobomber strikes again, this time peeking out of a bower of purple coneflower and ‘Color Guard’ yucca.


A wider view shows that I was being watched as I photographed the pond garden. Early summer is a pretty time here, as the coneflowers color-coordinate with the ‘Colorado’ water lilies in the pond.


A ‘Wilson’s Yellow’ daylily has snuck into this planting bed somewhere along the way. Do you ever forget that you’ve moved a plant from one spot to another, only to be surprised later? Yeah, I didn’t think I was the only one.


Purple coneflowers have long been a favorite of mine. These prairie natives are like vanilla ice cream — simple, classic, and crowd pleasing.


These came from seed collected in my former garden, and they were one of the first plants to grow in my new garden. Stripey ‘Color Guard’ yucca and fall aster foliage distract from the coneflower’s stork-like legs.


Here’s a wide view of this bed, which screens the base of the elevated deck and curves around the sunburst stone path that surrounds the stock-tank pond. I try to keep these bamboo muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia dumosa) clipped for a more manicured look, and they’re due for a haircut. In other parts of the garden, however, I let these grasses grow tall and bushy.

After several redesigns here over the years, I finally exercised enough restraint to run a curving line of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas backed by bamboo muhly, emphasizing the circular geometry of this area. Small limestone boulders I collected throughout the yard casually edge this bed.


Purple coneflowers add summer color at one end, ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda at the other. Sheared balls of ‘Winter Gem’ boxwood mark the four “doorways” into the pond garden.


Looking up the hillside path toward the gate — the ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress just keeps growing, beautifully screening the house next door. Every time I walk by I brush its needles for the Christmasy scent.


Heading the other way, toward the far side of the back garden, I stop to admire a second bloom stalk on a soap aloe (Aloe maculata). The hummingbirds will be happy to see this. Moby the ‘Whales’ Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) stretches his flukes in the background.


And looking back toward the stock-tank pond


Wandering out front, I’m happy to still be happy with the new front door color.


White skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens) softens the edge of a steel pipe remnant-turned-planter for a trio of ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckias. Two of the original three didn’t survive the winter, so I replaced them. A painted metal heart made by Bob Pool adds a little love (and color).


The curbside garden along the front of the house is looking particularly lush and happy, but our long, cool spring has delayed the flowering of the autumn sage (Salvia greggii). It won’t be long; the first hot-pink flower has already appeared. Meanwhile, the pale-lilac blossoms of Mexican oregano are feeding the hummingbirds, and the grassy foliage of purple fountain grass (replaced annually), garlic chives, and Mexican feathergrass adds softness and movement. Everything out here must, of course, be as deer resistant as possible, and grassy or strong-scented foliage is the ticket.


Looking left, I pause to admire my neighbor’s streetside garden, which I planted for her a couple of years ago. Because this bed receives more sun than mine, her autumn sage is in full bloom, along with ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda and Jerusalem sage. A hummingbird darted in while I was watching for a sip from the monarda blossoms.


This is the view from the street, looking toward my house and new fence, with a two-year-old ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave growing quickly in the center of the bed. The large red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) at back was already there when I planted, and I simply incorporated it into the new bed. Sadly, whenever it flowers the deer devour the bloom stalks, but at least the foliage is striking.

Thanks for joining me for a garden stroll today!

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