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.
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33 Responses

  1. I can see why you could have stayed in this garden longer. It does an allure and interest.

  2. Thank you for taking those of us along who could not make it to Fling this year. Just wonderful photos of a beautiful garden and also of a few happy Flingers.

  3. I could have spent another couple of hours here too, there was so much beauty to soak up and explore.

  4. Judy says:

    You got a lot of great photos, Pam! This was a very tricky garden to photograph because it is so full and complex – a lot packed in, everywhere you looked, and all of it stunning. And it was also full of a lot of flingers!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks, Judy! The light was pretty harsh at midday too, which was challenging. Did you notice that right at the moment we were called back to the buses a passing cloud suddenly softened the light? Isn’t that the way it always goes? ;) —Pam

  5. Did we really spend nearly an hour there? It went by in a flash. You’ve done a wonderful job of describing it, Pam, and captured a few thing I missed. Thanks!

  6. Alison says:

    Great post about a great garden, Pam! Like Loree, I could have stayed here for longer too. I know I missed a lot, I was still in a bit of a zombie state from the cold I had.

  7. I love this garden!
    Looks so cool, and inviting.

    Thanks for taking us with you.

  8. Caroline says:

    Caged agaves – brilliant!

  9. Gerhard Bock says:

    You only had an hour there? I could easily spend half a day there! So many fantastic vignettes. Of course the captive agave was my favorite :-).

  10. I really enjoyed this garden. A LOT! Nice review Pam.

  11. Great gardens. Looks like a lovely time was had by all.

  12. Hi, Pam! Thank you for documenting this year’s fling! Linda’s garden was amazing. I find myself wondering how old the garden is, and also how many folks does it take to maintain such a huge undertaking? That’s a full time job for a team of people. And, yes, it’s gorgeous, well planned and creative. Thanks for the peek! Kathryn xoxo

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Good questions, Kathryn! Linda wasn’t able to be in the garden the day we visited, so I didn’t have a chance to speak with her. Maybe she’ll see your comment here and be able to answer your questions. —Pam

    • Linda Hostetler says:

      Hi Kathryn
      Two weeks before the Fling I had a group of amazing friends come out of nowhere and help with weeding, mulching and ‘fluffing’. Normally it is just me and my hubby Ralph on duty. We started the garden 20 years ago with an empty lot. I’ve designed other gardens along the way to afford plants; it’s an addiction!

      • Pam/Digging says:

        Thanks for answering, Linda. I figured your garden was at least 20 years old, but I would never have guessed it was the work of only you and your husband. You guys are dynamos! Thanks for enriching our world with your beautiful creation. —Pam

  13. Beverly says:

    Hi Pam, thanks for sharing this very lovely, lush garden. I wonder how it is watered and how much (many times) during the summer–or do they get rain on a regular basis? Seems like such a big garden with so many levels. I couldn’t imagine trying to keep a garden like this alive much less green during our summers here in Austin. But I can dream.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hi Beverly. I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual tour. As you point out, this is a garden suitable to a wetter, more temperate climate than Austin’s, which Virginia has. It’s gorgeous, and Linda is obviously a very skilled and energetic gardener! Still, we can all borrow design ideas from it for our own gardens, even if we can’t plant all of the same plants. And thank goodness, right? As Lady Bird Johnson said, “I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.” —Pam

  14. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Wow! Just wow. So beautifully done and maintained yet with colorful and whimsical touches. Looks like a lot of areas to explore and enjoy! The caged agave made me laugh out loud as did the blue balls…um spheres, yes, that’s it blue spheres.

  15. Linus Chen says:

    I like the mixed stone labyrinth (gravel and large flat stones).

    What is the weeping evergreen flush with the house? Fifth picture (the one with the two chairs for conversation)?

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