Friday, May 19, 2017

Garden Tour: An English Gentleman's Zen Garden


As previously reported, I joined Denise of A Growing Obsession and Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden on the Long Beach leg of the Mary Lou Heard Garden Tour in early May.  Our second stop after  Dustin Gimbel's innovative space was a garden several miles away and close to the ocean.

The extensive use of shredded bark mulch and decomposed granite in the front garden signaled that what had probably been lawn had been removed in response to California's extended drought and our water restrictions.  The plants were understated but thoughtfully selected.

Coleus (Plectranthus scuttelarioides) and bromeliads were tucked in among the rock surrounding an established tree.  Also spotted: Farfugium japonicum, Itoh peonies, a Leucospermum, and what I think is an Adenanthos.


We moved down a narrow path at the side of the house to the back garden.  I hadn't read the tour guide before we arrived and, as the home was located just off Ocean Boulevard, I expected a small space with more rock and decomposed granite than plants in the back so I was delightfully surprised by what we found.

Wide shot taken from the elevated back patio looking toward the rear of the property


Here's how the garden's owner/creator described his garden in the tour guide:
My goal was to transform a bland space of lawn into an inviting garden. California design concepts encouraged me to reinterpret my desire for an English gentleman’s garden. Existing trees would remain as the border for my new garden which I named “Bisbee”. Instead of fIowers, texture, form and leaf color dominate. Whimsy and playfulness are seen alongside classical elements like a pergola, arches, potted specimens, winding paths and water elements. Benches and seating areas invite you to linger; a subtle Zen is at play here. So please sit, feel the gentle breeze, breathe deeply, and relax. I hope you enjoy Bisbee and maybe, are taken back to a different time.

The gazebo at the back of the property drew my attention first.

Looking toward the gazebo from a pathway running along the right side of the garden

A closer look at the gazebo, which was surrounded by several Japanese maples (Acer palmatum).  The gazebo's supports were wrapped in multi-colored lights. 

This collage gives you a look at some of the details within the gazebo.  Based on the rocks sitting in the bonsai plant container on the lower right, the garden's owner has been a regular participant in the Mary Lou Heard Garden Tour.


In addition to the gazebo, there was a table and chairs set into a back corner.

Given the number of photos I took, I'm surprised I didn't get a better photo of this corner of the garden - this is the best one I had


Once I'd explored the gazebo, I took a more careful look at plant combinations and other details in the center of the garden.

The area along this path was planted with more Farfugium japonicum, Acer palmatum, and what may have been an oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).  The tree was draped with Spanish moss.

These photos were taken further along the same path, looking first one way and then back the other

This water feature occupied roughly the middle of the garden.  The perfect-looking lawn on the right was synthetic.

In addition to Abelia, Coleonema and Coprosma, I was surprised to see Sambucus nigra in this bed


There were some interesting details along the margins of the garden too.

It may be hard to detect in this photo but there's a mirrored sculptural piece just to the left of the rose bush in this photo, which reflected light and garden elements

This urn sits along the fence on the opposite side of the garden.  The neighbor's bamboo can be seen poking its way between slats in the fence.


Then I took a closer look at the patio attached to the house, which I'd breezed by upon my initial entry into the garden.

I neglected to take a photo facing straight on at the back patio.  This photo picked up the half of the patio containing a spa and lounge chairs.

This photo shows the other half of the patio

And here are close-ups of selected patio features


True to the owner's statement, the garden did indeed have a zen-like feel.  But while it had the restrained, spare aesthetic I associate with Asian gardens, it was still packed with interesting plants, many of which were drought tolerant.  The garden also made effective use of repetition, both in the color of the plant foliage and the color and form of structural elements, like the gazebo and the arbors spaced along one path.

I still have one more post to share from our May garden excursion but it seems that will spill into next week.  Enjoy your weekend!



All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

23 comments:

  1. Exuberance with restraint - East meets west. A great example of the best of several worlds, even a new world agave. I love the gazebo and the shape echoes of the rectangular brick in the wood walls. Fabulous combination of curved and square line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's just the effect the owner/creator was seeking, Peter. I love that gazebo too. I've had gazebos on my mind of late, something I haven't yet brought up with my spouse. The style of this one wouldn't fit my garden but it did spur my thought processes.

      Delete
  2. Whatever those fuzzy bluish shrubs are on either side of the water feature, I love them. Much of this garden, especially the gazebo area, wouldn't look out of place in the PNW with just a few changes in plants. That is indeed a Hydrangea quercifolia. Now I'm curious if it stays essentiallly evergreen that far south, or if it loses leaves from the summer drought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calothamnus, I think. I remember looking at them but didn't take a photo.

      Delete
    2. I was hoping HB might be able to put a name to the plant for you, Evan. So close to the ocean, that garden probably benefits more from the marine layer than my own, which is on the "wrong" side of the peninsula here in the South Bay but I had some concerns of my own about how well some of the plants in this garden might fare in the long term.

      Delete
  3. Evan already said what I was thinking, a lot of this garden could be right here in the PNW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're all right, the garden does have a PNW feel to it, especially with all those Japanese maples. They're marginal in my area but this garden benefits from a greater marine influence - and is much more protected from the winds that buffet my garden.

      Delete
  4. I was just thinking about the phlomis in this garden this morning, so spectacular. Maybe those shrubs Evan mentions are adenanthos, or were they Leucadendron linifolium? Such a nice owner. You do his garden justice, Kris. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remembered some discussion of those shrubs. The owner wasn't sure of the species as I recall but I had a recollection that HB ventured a guess, even if I couldn't remember what it was.

      Delete
  5. Lovely garden and great to see the modifications made to adjust to the water situation there. Pleasantly surprised though that Farfugiums are doing well despite the minimal watering I presume the owner does :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've steered away from plants like Farfugium and Salix integra 'Flamingo', the dappled willow he had in 2 containers, because of the water requirements but water is more of a problem in my garden I suspect due to its larger size and the drier conditions.

      Delete
  6. You got really good photos that showed what a great layout this garden had. I really liked that garden a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was impressed by that garden too. It was more about the overall landscape than the individual plants but there was still plenty of interesting plant material.

      Delete
  7. This seems a nice garden just to be in, in a quiet restful way. It's really well done and perfect with the exterior of the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine it's nice for parties too, with different spots to eat and mingle - or just sit alone and read.

      Delete
  8. Wow, nice space! Neat as a pin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It had been spruced up for the tour I think. Some of the plants were clearly new - they still had tags.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful illustration of how effective foliage can be in a garden! I love the area around the gazebo with its multi-colored lights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He did a great job with the space, Deb!

      Delete
  10. Oh I like that water feature Kris. I wouldn't have guessed that the grass was synthetic :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the other tour participants was surprised to find it was synthetic too, Anna. I noticed it immediately but then at one time I looked into the possibility of using synthetic grass myself so I was acquainted with the product. It's a lot better than it used to be but it's still plastic.

      Delete
  11. O my gosh! This is absolutely stunning garden! Every piece of land is detailed and planned so well. I understand why you chose this one to be posted. Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.