Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 ANLD Garden Tour

This Saturday, June 22, is the 9th Annual ANLD (Association of Northwest Landscape Designers) Open Garden Tour. I was fortunate enough, last week, to be invited to their pre-tour day. An unexpected benefit, I got to spend the day with fellow bloggers, Loree, Heather and Ricki!

The Nelson-Sherman Garden
Nelson-Sherman Garden 5Nelson-Sherman Garden 2
The first garden was obviously focused on edibles. While I'm occasionally torn about how I feel about concrete, I liked how it was used here, sometimes its very simple form is the perfect contrast to an otherwise "busy" visual space.

Nelson-Sherman Garden 7
Potatoes, anyone?

Nelson-Sherman Garden 10
I love this recycled brick and paver patio/path...but as clumsy as I am...I'd be tripping all over the place!

The Elemental Garden
The Elemental Garden 3
Next up was The Elemental Garden, built into a steep hillside.

The Elemental Garden 2The Elemental Garden 1
I kind of loved these metal sculptures, sunk into a water feature...and there was a friendly puppy greeting visitors.

The Cedar Mill Garden
Cedar Mill Garden 1
I can't remember if there was actually a garden attached to this space was mostly about the dining/entertaining space.

Cedar Mill Garden 3Cedar Mill Garden 4
Witness the biggest canvas screen I've ever seen in a residential setting. I've pondered the possibility of doing a few small "sails" like this in our own backyard. BTW...the outdoor kitchen up on that deck is about 10x nicer than the one I have in my house. Also, I love the irregular paver/stone path...I may steal that idea someday!

Cedar Mill Garden 2
Why put on a sweater when you can construct an outdoor fireplace?

The Floramagoria Garden
The Floramagoria Garden 1
This next garden has a bit of a split personality.

The Floramagoria Garden 20The Floramagoria Garden 2
The front yard is very sophisticated. If I had to find an example of what a "Northwest" garden was, this would be it. Boulders, ferns, evergreens, shady meandering paths. Does it get any better?

The Floramagoria Garden 4
Believe it or not, yes, it does! As you venture down a narrow side yard into the back, you are greeted by a wonderfully extravagant garden. I want to steal that idea of the painted bamboo...maybe chartreuse...hmmmm? To be honest, I was afraid I wouldn't like this garden when someone mentioned it was totally tropical in back. Luckily, it wasn't wall-to-wall Tropicalisimo, so I found plenty to like :-)

The Floramagoria Garden 10The Floramagoria Garden 5
I loved this planting on the left, rich and sultry, with Cimicifuga, Astrantia, Salvia and Allium...and who doesn't love Martagon Lilies?!?

The Floramagoria Garden 8The Floramagoria Garden 11
I was so surprised to see one of the plants I've been searching for over the past few years, Gillenia trifoliata (Bowman's Root), love it paired with the rich purple Salvia. Lush ferns (I think a Tree Fern, actually), graced a seating area in the rear of the garden.

The Floramagoria Garden 15
One of my favorite spots, this secret little shady area under an enormous Sequoia in the back corner of the garden.

The Pequeño Paraiso Garden
Pequeño Paraiso Garden 2
If any garden reminded me that we weren't in Portland anymore, it was this one. Its front yard alone is the size of my city lot (actually, probably bigger)!

Pequeño Paraiso Garden 3Pequeño Paraiso Garden 4
Like most of the gardens on the tour, a lot of focus is on the hardscape, usually hardscape most of us can't actually afford! I was happy to see a few simple gravel (maybe decomposed granite) paths, though.

Pequeño Paraiso Garden 8
What the what! Can you believe THIS is someone's back yard??? It's about the size of a city block! I do love these low, rock walls...I want them transported to my garden, immediately! This garden has a TON of entertaining space (most of these gardens focus on outdoor entertaining/dining). Strangely, however, almost all of the plants looked as if they had JUST been planted.

The Leon Garden
The Leon Garden1
This small garden (by this tour's standards, anyway) is much closer to the size that most of us living in close-in Portland will have to work with.

The Leon Garden4The Leon Garden 2
While small, I was quite impressed at how the space had been maximized...with creative paver and stonework. I actually got to chat with Alyse Lansing, the designer of this garden during our lunch break at the previous garden. She said the biggest compliment she received was when the homeowners told her that they never used to even go into the backyard, and now they used it all the time!

The Leon Garden 3
I could gadren for 100 years and never be able to show such restraint! The plantings provided a surprising amount of screening and privacy from the surrounding houses.

The Plant Passion Garden
Plant Passion Garden 1
The last garden we'll look at is the Plant Passion Garden. I think most of us really fell in love with this very simple water feature, which overflowed into a reservoir beneath the stones, makeing the most wonderful noise. I want it! The Birch tree underplanted with Sedges is an exercise of subtle perfection.

Plant Passion Garden 4Plant Passion Garden 5
There were some wonderful plants used in this garden, and it was fun walking around, pointing things out. I do admit, being a simple boy, that I found the multiple bands of rock/gravel used in the pathway to be a bit fussy (like the hardscape in many of these gardens)...but, to each his own...most people will love it!

Plant Passion Garden 2
If you like what you've seen here you can see each of these gardens for yourself this Saturday. Tickets are $20/person and can be ordered online. Otherwise, Day-of-show tickets are available at the following garden centers:
Garden Fever – 3433 NE 24th Ave, Portland
Cornell Farms – 8212 SW Barnes Rd, Portland
Drake's 7 Dees (across from Portland Golf Club) – 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, Portland


  1. Nice tour -- especially seeing it from two different eyes (I saw Loree's post yesterday)! I love the metal sculpture at the Elemental garden, but, well, let's just say I don't love the Pequeño garden. Let me see it in 5 years. (I really need to learn how to weld!)

    1. It's pretty interesting isn't it! I actually forgot to link to the posts of the other attendees (we all 3 did posts)! I really want Norm to learn how to weld too ;-)

  2. It's wonderful to see this tour preview through different lenses! While there are some similarities, you each focused on different things that appealed to you in each garden. It's fun that we all have different garden styles/passions but all share the love of gardening!

    It's hard sometimes when visiting huge gardens to adjust to the difference in scale from our small urban gardens.

    1. It's pretty interesting how that happens, isn't it...I'm amazed at the things the other bloggers noticed that I totally didn't!

  3. I like your garden way more than any of these. Too much serious hardscaping, too much emphasis on "entertaining" or "outdoor living" (a phrase I loathe as it implies that it's not living unless it mimics indoor activities) as opposed to gardening, too fussily "designed," too just so, too much wealth on display and not enough love of plants. I knew zilch about gardening before I started following your blog, and I still know almost nothing, but what I'm starting to know is where my own tastes lie, and almost nothing shown here appeals to me (but I'm glad they make their owners happy, of course). I like your garden because of its exuberance, its feeling of nature barely controlled, its casualness, and simply its emphasis on PLANTS that you clearly LOVE. If I ever have a garden of my own these are the values I would strive to honor. I think I like a cottage garden style, in density of planting, simplicity, and exuberance, but without the cutesy folksiness and without the roses.

    Portland, OR

    1. Awww, thanks, Ronnie :-) I will admit that this really isn't a tour focusing on people like me (the DIY'er) who just want to grow plants and have fun. It really is a showcase of Landscaping, which is a very different beast...and sometimes I forget that. Even if not to my taste, I still have admiration for those with the skill to design these spaces, and see them through from beginning to end. I can only imagine the patience required to deal with clients (then again, I'm QUITE emotional)! I'm always amazed that I manage to find something inspirational...something valuable, to take way from almost every garden I visit (sometimes it's as simple as material used for a step)...usually in the most unexpected places :-) I do hope you have a garden someday, Ronnie, I think it's a place I'd like to visit!

  4. I am a tad bit jealous that you got invited to a garden tour preview. I wonder if most landscape designers focus on hardscape, or whether that's the type of garden organizers think people will be willing to pay to see? I know at one point the magazine Garden Design changed their focus to be more centered on "outdoor living," and that's when I started to lose interest.

    1. It really was great fun, Kathy! I think the hardscape is what most people NEED a designer for. I think most of us know what we wan to plant...but getting paths, walls, drainage right is pretty, I think that's where they make most of their money, not in plants. That may be why I never cared for Garden Design...I don't think I ever discovered it until their last few years...and was very "meh" about it.

  5. I've seen a few "gardens" on garden tours that focused on hardscape, and that looked like they had just been planted a few days before. They're kind of a bummer, because you really want to see plants, plants, plants! But then gardens that are just a bunch of cool plants stuffed in willy-nilly are not very satisfying either.

    I like that simple water feature too, and the patio, and the flagstone/river rock path. You got some wonderful photos that capture some of the best things about each garden.

    1. So very true, Alison, like most things, there need to be a balance. I would really like to visit that one garden in another year...I think then it will look beautiful...time will tell. Isn't that water feature wonderful...I should have gotten a video of it!

  6. No offense to the landscape architects out there, but I prefer to go to gardens that you can tell have been designed and maintained by the owners. Otherwise it just feels like the people just had enough money to have someone make them a garden, and they don't always have anything to do with the people themselves.
    That said, I also liked the path with the smaller stones in between, I loved the water feature in the Plant Passion garden and I liked the backyard in the Floramagoria garden.

    1. Agreed, Heather, I will always prefer honest-to-goodness gardens that are the result of blood, sweat and tears of the gardener! That being said, and as you mentioned, there are still a lot of valuable lesson to be learned from the pro's ;-) Every time I visit a "designed" garden, I come away with a renewed focus on things like cohesion, legibility and form! Like anything else, you have to hone in on the things that speak to you ;-)

  7. Having been involved with several of these tours in the past, this is the most "plant-centric" so far. Interesting how commenters disliked the emphasis on hardscapes. That is the area where I feel weakest, so it interests me to see it done well. These tours are idea factories to me, where others may be using them to shop for a designer, artist or installer.

    1. I agree. I think you can take away ideas and inspiration from even the most boring garden.

    2. That's sort of EXACTLY how I feel, Ricki! I know what plants I like...and ALMOST how to use them! What baffles me still are things like drainage, paths and walls. I view this tour as a chance to see how the pros deal with things. I don't want to replicate the gardens...but I'm going to steal those good ideas!

  8. I love the Floramagoria garden ... at least the parts you showed. Those lilies! That outdoor living room ... not so much. That picture of the couch made me think of my grandmother, who would certainly rush over and cover it with plastic.

  9. Ah you got the shot of the cement and wooden raised planters, nice capture. I really liked them.

  10. I know we aren't supposed to vote, but I vote for the Floramagoria Garden, hands down.

  11. I'd go on that tour in a heartbeat, Scott, thanks to your preview pictures. I really love that overflowing bowl next to the sedges under the tree. I would love to replicate that whole scheme in my own front garden if only I didn't fear attracting even more deer with the water.

  12. What a great day; more interesting than a garden show like Chelsea. I think if the hard landscaping is done well you shouldn't even notice it, it just supports the planting and makes sense of the space. I love the overflowing bowl. Do you have a image of that kitchen? BTW, why not link your Foliage follow up to my GBFD, (I started it because a lot of people can't manage 2 big posts in 2 days. Thanks you giving us a great tour. Christina

  13. I really enjoyed touring with you, Scott. That fireplace seating area was to die for! I am guessing $2500+ just for the sofa piece. :) Way out of my budget, but fun to dream about.

  14. Thoroughly enjoyable tour Scott - thanks for taking us with you!
    Some lovely gardens you visited. There is so much there that is possibly out of the reach for most of us but there is one or two little bits that could be used in smaller gardens.
    I have a bit of a habit of 'falling in love' with hardscaping that is way!!!! beyond my budget but that little circle of reclaimed bricks and pavers really caught my eye.

  15. So many great gardens with interesting hardscape especially the recycled brick/paver area.

  16. Thank you for taking me to the garden tour! Love the shady area which has gorgeous foliage:) So wonderful your pictures!

  17. Absolutely lovely! Wish I lived there. Looking forward to meeting you at Fling! Linda

  18. Lovely! And it looks like you had a great time. I really like the style of those raised edible beds, and the brick pavers are nifty!

  19. Wow, such interesting elements in all of the gardens. I love that last water feature too. Thanks for taking taking us on this tour!

  20. Garden tours always offer up a few great ideas to steal and I appreciated the many you shared here! (I will be looking up Martagon lilies...) I do think gardening on a 'budget' is a much different challenge than the bottomless checkbook approach ;) You are so right about the bowl fountain-- awesome.

  21. I'm with you. I think designers can get too caught up in the hardscape at the expense of the plantscape. I love the water bowl in that last garden. And that spot under the Sequoia with the large tree fern, very nice. I saw my first Gellinia at the local garden tour a few weeks ago. When in bloom, it's a dandy shrub for sure. Thanks for taking us along, Scott.

  22. Garden tours always gives us another awesome ideas on how we can make our garden as cool as it can be..

  23. Hi Alan, You got some great shots of our tour. You're a fantastic photographer. Thanks for sharing the ANLD 2013 Designers Garden Tour. Ann Nickerson, Chair