Saturday, March 3, 2012

Garden Shinanigans in Oregon Part 2: Not just Hellebores

After the drool fest and automatic debiting of our bank cards, we strolled the grounds of Ernie and Marietta's garden and, again, were treated to something truly special and awe inspiring.

NWGN grass focal point

"Every great garden as great bones" Penelope Hobhouse once said. Their garden is certainly no exception to this statement; it's actually a fine example of it. In the dead of winter, a garden doesn't need to be flat and barren. Having structural elements and shapes, focal points and other objects which direct the eye make for a successful landscape. I included this photo with the guys in the rear so you get a sense of depth and scale. You see a pedestal as a focal point with a fluffy Carex that makes for a simple yet, very effective focal point and on the right, notice the strong, bold anchor that a columnar cypress creates.

I was taught that if you take a black and white photo of a landscape, you can better define these elements and you can really see what holds a landscape together. It's not just the pretty flowers, lush foliage, the color, the texture of it all, it's these bold lines and shapes that make for the foundation of a landscape.

Notice how the rare winter sunlight illuminates the form, structure, and then you get a bit of texture enhanced as the contorted branches become more evident. Notice the small mounds made up of conifers and, in the previous photo above, ornamental grasses.  With curving paths and simple rocks staggered about, it makes for a pleasant stroll during a cold, but bright winter's day.

Here are some more captivating scenes from their garden:

Look at this remarkable composition: the height achieved in the background with vertical elements set off by the bright winter foliage of a yellow-needled shore pine Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph'. And in the foreground, you see their simple rock work with a few mounds of evergreen ornamental grasses and dwarf conifers.  THAT'S ALL YOU NEED and you can have a fabulous garden that looks this great year round!

NWGN Yucca with frosted bananas
Even with the remaining foliage of the hardy banana, this photograph illustrates another simple yet effective composition with the variegated yucca flanked by heaths and heathers. In a way, you almost don't notice how ugly the banana is at this time of year.

One of my favorite features of this garden is their spectacular bamboo screen. Meticulously maintained so it doesn't take over all of Eugene, OR, it is a remarkable sight to see. I love the contrast of the aging, multi-stemmed tree against the fine texture and vertical lines of the back-lit bamboo and having the empty containers there

NWGS Container anchor
Very important to have  a rest in the garden, both physically with the bench in place anchored by a large container as a "companion", but also a visual rest from everything else that's going on. It may be winter, but there are still a lot of things to see so these wide paths play an important role.

Levels are important especially in these large beds so there's a sense of depth, scale and each plant specimen or planting scheme is

NWGN Yuccas and Euphorbias

Hellebores in the garden 2
And naturally, the woodlands are inundated with Hellebores!!
Hellebores in the garden with conifers in back Hellebores in the garden


  1. This garden looks absolutely fantastic...And you are right, that bamboo screen is spectacular. Many things to emulate in the future.

  2. Riz:
    This has been a wonderful pleasure to be able to tour this magnificent garden. I am always curious as to how horticulturalists of this magnitude create display gardens. While it is wonderful to see the ubiquitous Helleborus scattered throughout the woodland, it was most refreshing to see some of their other obvious favourite plants. The bamboo is quite spectacular, but my heart belongs to that magnificent pillar of gold Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph.' Thanks for bringing us along!

  3. I can only imagine the time and care that goes into that bamboo screen. The entire garden looks amazing, I can only imagine how nice it must be in the summer.