Friday, July 11, 2014

The Value of Garden Tours

Gate by Mike Suri, Suri Iron
Finding inspiration. Spending a day with friends. Reveling in what gardeners—and garden designers—have accomplished. Seeing how garden and lifestyle challenges are solved. These are a few reasons to take advantage of garden tours. In the case of the ANLD Designers Garden Tour which took place June 28, visiting six urban gardens also raised funds for ANLD’s scholarship fund. (ANLD stands for Association of Northwest Landscape Designers.) Click here and you’ll see more photos and explanations of the projects. I’d like to share what my takeaways were for  the gardens.

However, before launching into the ANLD garden tour photo essay, if you live in the Portland area, I encourage you to join the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon to take advantage of the hundreds of open gardens that its members so generously share. The open gardens alone are worth the price of membership!

Art in the ANLD gardens played and important role.It created focal points and whimsy, distracted the eye from vistas best left unseen, added punches of color, and visually pulled the visitor to destinations in the garden, not to mention creating the "Wow!" factor.

The rusted metal rooster added an element of surprise in an otherwise sophisticated Japanese-inspired garden. Rooster was designed by metal artist Zoe Bacon in the garden designed by Barb Hilty.

Garden owner Linda Ernst created these lively glass panels to add color in her already colorful edible garden.

Also in the Ernst garden, this contemporary gate acts as art.

The forms in this garden gate by Mike Suri, Suri Iron, were inspired by the poppies found on the property and saved by the homeowners when they built their new eco-friendly home on the lot. Garden designed by Marina Wynton.

St. Francis is one of my favorite sculptures by artist Patrick Gracewood, Gracewood Studios. Garden was designed by Bruce Hegna.

Structures define space and add functionality to a garden. Both of these garden structures were used as light-filled tool sheds that can also shelter tender plants.
Shed with green roof designed by Marina Wynton.

Shed was crafted by Patrick Blakeslee. Lion in foreground was sculpted by Patrick Gracewood.

Water features can contribute visual appeal, drama, color and sound to a garden. The sound distracts the ear from unappealing neighborhood and traffic noise, a very practical application, but overall the effect is usually one of relaxing the soul. Ahhhh.
Found granite was the inspiration for this custom water feature. Its scale is large for the garden space adding a lot of zen drama, if one can use both those words to describe something. Garden designed by Barb Hilty; refreshed plantings designed by Adriana Berry.
The small birdbath-like fountain provides just enough movement and sound to make it a welcome destination for wildlife. Garden was designed by Darcy Daniels.

This contemporary water feature design incorporates the owners' glass artistry. Designed by Laura Crockett.

Sometimes it is the very subtle that is of great interest in a garden design.

Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida, formerly Cotula squalida) made a tidy and attention-grabbing ground cover for this parking strip in the garden designed by Donna Giguere.

The design challenge was to manage a steeply sloping slope (solution: beautiful concrete retaining walls that compliment the 1905 house), create off-street parking (solution: carve space out of the sloping yard and use attractive permeable pavers), and use low maintenance plantings. Designer: Donna Giguere.

Rain water was redirected to this simple and stylish rain garden. Designer: Donna Giguere.

Believe it or not, this is a Mahonia! Fabulous evergreen texture. Look for Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'.


  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, It is awesome.

    1. Thank you. I visited a tropical-inspired garden just last week. So many different ways to approach a garden!