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.

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10 Responses

  1. Linda Hostetler says:

    Awesome garden and another fun writeup! I think the Flingers got their money’s worth!

  2. Kris P says:

    I completely missed that headless woman – and the shower!

  3. ks says:

    How did I miss that headless fountain?

  4. Saurs says:

    The atmosphere of this garden is wonderful. I especially like the naturalism-meets-cultivation palette of the shaded ‘canyon.’

  5. I always admire someone that can take a canyon and turn it into a space with such lush plantings that you want to climb up and down to see it all. The headless fountain lady is interesting. I wonder who she is?? That loropetalum is gorgeous. I have tried to grow that before and it couldn’t take our winters or so I thought. Hmmmm maybe it was something else that took it.

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