Southern Gothic garden of Jeff Minnich: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


I didn’t expect to see a banana tree and sago palm in any of the gardens we visited during the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling last month, but Arlington, Virginia, designer Jeff Minnich‘s garden is full of surprises.


Reminiscent of a New Orleans cottage garden with picket fencing and tropical-looking potted plants out front, and with black-humor garden art in back, the garden evokes a Southern Gothic vibe more common in the Deep South than in the Upper South/Mid-Atlantic region of Washington, D.C.


A potted banana makes a broad-leaved focal point in the tiny front garden.


Angel wing begonia brightens the shade in a grapevine-adorned terracotta pot.


Rounding the corner of the house into the side yard, you see two things: 1) that Jeff has made the most of his small front garden by continuing it into a fully landscaped side yard with a major water feature, and 2) that his lot drops dramatically from the back of the house. This pretty stream, which spills into small pools, turns into a waterfall just a few feet farther along.


Tucked in a patch of prostrate yew and sedge, a golden-eyed frog watches you pass by.


From a small patio at the back corner of the house, you enjoy a view of the waterfall, overhung with a lacy Japanese maple.


And then the garden falls away from the house into a wooded canyon — or so we’d call it in Texas — lushly planted with ferns, hostas, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and other shade lovers.


Great old trees rise above the understory along this lower path.


White-flowering hydrangea brightens the dimly lit garden.


Climbing back up to the house, you reach a narrow back patio and a handy outdoor shower.


Jeff has a slightly macabre sense of humor, as evidenced by his garden art, like this statuary fountain of a headless woman cradling her own head. This got a lot of attention from the bloggers!


As did this — an agave whose stiff, spiky leaves were topped with tiny skulls.


I couldn’t help laughing when I saw it — and contemplating the “danger garden” aspect of growing agaves.


Potted clivia adds color and more of that subtropical New Orleans vibe.


Back out front, I was admiring an arched doorway of purple-leaved loropetalum when Karin of Southern Meadows walked through in her matching purple shirt. Of course I had to get a picture.


I also really like Jeff’s unpainted fence of staggered-height 1×1-inch cedar pickets. A small concrete urn planted with succulents tops this mossy baluster near the street, adding one more charming element to a wonderfully charming garden.

Up next: The Maine-evoking garden of Maryland designer Debbie Friedman. For a look back at Peg Bier’s woodland garden of discovery, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Casa Mariposa, Virginia winery, & Merrifield Garden Center: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling

Casa Mariposa

With a garden called Casa Mariposa, you know it’s going to be welcoming to butterflies — and, as it turns out, all pollinators. Tammy Schmitt, head planner of this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling, bravely included her suburban D.C.-area garden on the tour. I say bravely because planning a Fling requires a LOT of time and effort, which only ratchets up in the weeks just before the event. To find time to tidy and fluff one’s own garden in preparation for 100 visitors, all the while making sure everything else is running smoothly, is impressive. I suspect Tammy does not sleep.


Tammy welcomes not just pollinators but human visitors with a whimsical, ribbon-like arbor over her back gate. I didn’t stop to see how she made this, so I’m hoping she’ll chime in on the comments and let us know. Update: Tammy shared her DIY method with me:

“It’s four threaded rods with couplers at the end that fit into an elbow joint that form the ‘Suburban Gothic’ arch. One end of each rod is sunk into the ground about a foot. The lightweight plastic tubing provides more surface area for the vines to cling to, as does the dead wood from the invasive honeysuckle whose roots I dug out after cutting the main stem. Hops and cup and saucer vine are climbing each side. It should be covered by the end of July. This is my own crazy design to solve the problem of ‘I want an arbor but don’t have any room.'”


You walk through into a floral exuberance of coneflowers, daylilies, verbena, zinnias, and more — anything that a butterfly, bee, or other pollinator might find attractive.


See?


Of course, these flowers attract the human eye too.


And gnomes! I think this pretty flower is Rudbeckia ‘Solar Eclipse’ — correction ‘Denver Daisy’. It definitely has wow power.

Stone Tower Winery


On this day, we were bused into northern Virginia’s rolling wine and horse country, and we stopped at a local winery for a catered lunch. Stone Tower Winery sits on a hilltop overlooking fields of grapes and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the hazy distance.


A group of Austin bloggers posed here for a photo: first-time Flinger Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden, yours truly, and Laura of Wills Family Acres.


Turning around to face the winery, you can see how busy it was, with lots of lunching and wine tasting happening on multiple patios. Bloggers here include new friend Diana Stoll of Garden With Diana and Houstonian Shawn Schlachter of Ravenscourt Gardens, plus Laura, Diana, and Cat.


It was an appealing spot for selfies, even unintentionally goofy ones (thanks, Cat).


I like this one of Diana and Cat relaxing on the bus en route to our next destination.

Merrifield Garden Center


One of those destinations was Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville, Virginia, which generously put out this delicious spread for us. How nice!


The place is enormous, with lots of garden decor and gift items, like these cactus-themed botanical pillows…


…and charming sun ornaments by Elizabeth Keith Designs (not blazing-hot Death Stars by any stretch), not to mention more plants than you can shake a stick at. After we’d noshed and made our purchases, we were back on the buses and ready for more gardens.

Up next: The beautifully delineated garden rooms of designer Scott Brinitzer. For a look back at the colorful and plant-rich garden of Viginia designer Linda Hostetler, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Blue fantasy in the garden of Linda Hostetler: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling


I saw some truly wonderful gardens during the Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling last week, and one of my favorites was that of landscape designer Linda Hostetler in The Plains, Virginia. From the street you admire a handsome farmhouse-style home at the end of a wide, curving lawn hugged by lush mixed borders accented by burgundy Japanese maples.


There’s much to see here, but like everyone else, I hustled into the side-yard path, eager to see everything before we had to get back on the bus.


I paused to admire this shade-loving combo of ferns, heuchera, and sedge, framed by a pretty groundcover.


The path leads to a comfortable stone patio in the side yard, which overlooks a froggy pond. White hanging lanterns, concrete ornaments, and variegated and white-flowering plants brighten and set a serene mood in this shady space. Beyond the dining table…


…two chairs offer a spot for quieter conversation.


From the patio, you look on a charming pond freshened by a stair-stepping waterfall nestled into a heavily planted slope.


I spotted several frogs floating lazily in the pond…


…seemingly as content as this napping sprite.


An opaque glass orb pairs with creamy variegated grasses, ferns, and hostas to light up the shade.


Adding rustic charm at one end of the patio is a barn-like shed adorned with hanging pots, pieces of wrought iron, a birdhouse…


…and old tiller blades resembling flowers or suns.


It would have been easy to miss this back door framed by arching tree branches, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was a pretty, understated moment.


From here, the garden gets louder — in a fun way! You step down into the rear garden, a much more colorful and playful space in which cobalt blue takes center stage.


Blue umbrellas scattered here and there shade blue-painted chairs and tables. Blue pillows soften a stone bench cleverly built into a retaining wall.


Hot pinks, reds and maroons, and chartreuse yellows add even more joyful jolts of color.


Linda found these steel orbs at HomeGoods and spray-painted them blue, yellow, and orange.


The entry path curls into a yellow-brick-road-style spiral inset in a small lawn. Exploratory paths lead off in various directions, marked by blue arbors.


Here are Judy and Jason of Garden in a City. Low boxwood hedges curve along this narrow path, drawing you in.


Stone steps lead up to a hidden patio tucked under a blue umbrella.


Deeper in the garden, a blue gazebo holds court in a clearing. As you get closer you see a blue birdcage hanging in the center, with something unusual inside.


A captive agave!


Taking another path through a blue arbor…


…you discover a sunny pond flush with waterlilies. The pond is fed by a stream that winds its way across the garden, crossed by occasional wooden bridges. In the foreground, a potted cordyline echoes wine-red Japanese maples.


I adore Linda’s garden art, including these metal cattails near the pond — simple pieces of steel pipe welded to slender rods.


Linda’s garden art is also created through plants, like this fire-pit seating area, with flames evoked by the form and color of plants.


Croton provides tongues of yellow and red flame, and a small cypress (I think) adds a twisty, fire-like shape in the center. So clever!


Nearby, a carved elfin face is tucked into a piece of mossy weathered wood.


The mossy limbs give this small piece of art, which might easily have been overlooked, greater presence.


Here’s new Flinger Jen McGuinness of Frau Zinnie taking a picture, her hat echoing the crocosmia behind her.


Jen has such a great smile and is just as friendly as she looks. Meeting other bloggers is a big part of why I enjoy going to the Fling each year.


Along the stream, hostas, Japanese forest grass, and other plants create a green tapestry.


In a back corner, nearly hidden by mahonia and hydrangea, I spied that most Southern form of folk art: a blue bottle tree.


There is not a bad view in the entire garden.


Color echoes and contrasting forms make for satisfying views at every turn.


We had nearly an hour to explore, but I could easily have spent another hour or two wandering the paths.


Here’s Gryphon Corphus, a regular Flinger from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, who is always photogenic as she strolls barefoot and floral-dressed through the gardens.


I leave you with one last vignette from Linda’s garden: a heuchera perfectly echoing the blue hue of its glazed pot, set in a clipped, evergreen spiral…


…harmonizing with purple coneflowers and lilac hydrangeas.

Up next: Casa Mariposa, our host Tammy Schmitt’s garden, plus a few stops along the way. For a look back at an English-style garden of rural elegance in Middleburg, Virginia, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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