Friday, September 8, 2017

2017 Garden Bloggers' Fling - Enchanted woodland gardens

Today's post covers the last 2 of the 6 private gardens participants in the Capital Region Garden Bloggers' Fling toured on the second day of the event back in June.  Both were large wooded parcels, which were a treat for me to tour.  You don't see many heavily wooded properties in coastal Southern California!  

The first was the garden of Ellen Ash, a 5 acre property in Great Falls, Virginia.  I heard that Ellen is a transplanted New Yorker and a self-educated gardener who does most of the work on her large lot herself.  As I struggle to manage my half-acre garden, I was impressed by that.

The very first thing that drew my attention when I climbed off the bus were these Alliums, which I hadn't expected to see with fresh blooms in late June.

The color was a little too perfect and, when I lightly touched one of the flowers, I realized that they'd been spray painted.  I saw the same thing done in other gardens the next day and realized that this was "a thing," even if new to me.


I walked through a moongate into the woodland area.

I've always wanted a moongate in my own garden, even if I've no idea where I'd put it

My guess is that this pretty tree, in full bloom under a dense canopy of trees, is Aesculus parviflora, aka bottlebrush buckeye

I admired this beautiful plant combination of a blue-flowered Hydrangea and a variegated Hosta.  Hostas are plants I covet almost as much peonies.


Ellen confesses to being a collector and she had lots of art pieces and whimsical items scattered throughout her garden, of which I'll share just a few.

An elegant stone fountain surrounded by stone benches offered seating under the trees

Ceramic fish, a metal frog, and a cat birdbath

Spooky elements included this rat and giant spiders

A parody on the pink flamingo lawn ornaments popular at one time in US gardens


There was also a huge pool and spa.

This area included a pool house kitchen and even a bubble machine


The next garden was just a short bus ride away in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.  Peg Bier has gardened on this 2.5 acre property since 1959.  She's well known locally as a long-time employee of Merrifield's Garden Center (which we visited the following day) and was a featured plant expert on "Merrifield's Gardening Advisor," a live television show that ran for 25 years in the Virginia area, concluding in 2015.  (You can find YouTube videos of the shows here.)  Her garden was utterly lacking in pretension, the kind of place I'd have loved to sit down and just enjoy.  But our schedule didn't allow that and, to make matters worse, my camera's back-up battery died mid-visit, forcing me to resort to my phone's wonky camera.  My photos don't do the garden justice.

There was a fairy garden display along the street, near the spot our bus dropped us off.  When I reviewed this photo, it struck me that the scene looked like a miniature version of Peg's own garden.


Here are some shots of Peg's woodland area.




There were flowers but they took a back-seat to foliage in this garden


The garden even had a stream


Had there been time to sit, there were plenty of comfortable seating areas.

Splashes of bright red color were a common theme



This is a poor photo snapped on my phone as we were corralled back to the bus but I loved this sunken seating area, perfect for a leisurely breakfast or a tête-à-tête


There were lots of wonderful little touches too.

Pots containing and surrounded by more touches of red color

Birdbaths reflecting light filtering through the trees

Sign on the door of the shed adjacent to a large outdoor work area, complete with a picnic table


We're nearing the end of my Fling coverage, the remainder of which I'll cover in one or 2 posts sometime later this month.  In the meantime, best wishes for for a cool and comfortable, and hopefully fire and smoke free, weekend.


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

21 comments:

  1. It's difficult to imagine keeping on top of that much space but these gardeners do it wonderfully! I can see why you'd want to sit a spell and enjoy these gardens!

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    1. I always used to say I wanted 2 acres to garden, Peter (before I got my current 1/2 acre). Fortunately perhaps, finding 2 acre lots in Los Angeles County isn't easy (at least not without a Powerball win).

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  2. Woodland gardens are my absolute favorite. I would love to have uninterrupted garden areas like this instead of relatively small (but still large by most standards) beds with wide lawn paths slicing between them. I "had" to do it that way to appease my mother's concerns about getting a truck out into that part of the property.

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    1. In that I grew up in suburban LA County, Evan, I really can't say where my love for woodland settings came from but to this day a woodland garden, preferably near a lake, is my ultimate dream space.

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  3. Great minds once again think alike! I posted photos from the Ash garden today too. I'm not nearly as good at editing down as you are though so I ended up with a similar length post, but just on one garden. I missed those giant spiders (thank god), hard to believe this was 2 months ago...

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    1. I was surprised when I saw that we both covered the Ash garden today, Loree. If I'd had more - and better - photos my post would have been longer but I seem to have tuckered out after lunch on day 2. Sensory overload perhaps. I also need a better strategy in approaching the process of photographing gardens on tours like this. If you or Pam catch sight of me trailing after you at the next Fling, I'm not stalking, only trying to learn from the masters.

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  4. I missed the giant spiders too and, like Danger, I'm relieved. Those would be perfect for Halloween, of course. I liked the sunken garden in Peg's garden too.

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    1. I loved that sunken garden. I briefly considered how my husband might respond to the idea of digging out as area in our garden for something like that but thought better of even bringing it up. No doubt he'd have handed me a shovel and pointed me in the direction of our back slope.

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  5. That second garden is just gorgeous. The sunken seating area is a great inspiration for something I could do with a similar space. Have been reading stories of wildfires around LA, I hope they're coming under control. Thinking of you and all in the south eastern states. Keep safe.

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    1. Thank you for thinking of us here in the States, Jessica. We were lucky on the La Tuna (LA) Fire as we didn't even get the smoke and ash blowing our way this time. Oregon's Columbia River Gorge fire is far worse and, of course, the hurricanes wreaking damage in Texas and threatening Florida are beyond comprehension.

      Regarding the sunken seating area, you can find a better photo of it on Pam Penick's blog, Digging, here: https://www.penick.net/digging/?p=43899

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  6. Those are beautiful woodlands, yes pretty alien for a coastal So Cal person--enjoyed seeing them and imagining what they must be like to garden in--difficult I would think.

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    1. Every climate and condition imposes some challenge I suppose but I wouldn't mind having a woodland to putter with.

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  7. Some really thoughtfully laid out spaces here. Love the stone fountain. The sunken area is appealing.
    My gardens have evolved so slowly, that any coherence seems to have been lost, although an outsider might see some virtue in it. I've always wondered how it'd appear to others!

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    1. Maybe we need a fling up there in your part of the country, Eliza!

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  8. Enchanted woodland gardens are my very very favourite garden genre. Not practical in the sense of providing people food, but nourishing the imagination and spirit.

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    1. And we need could use much more of such nourishment in today's world, Sue.

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  9. I also covet a moon gate.
    But lack the perfect coming and going view in a small garden.
    Maybe a window in a trellis (or one like Pam @ Digging's back gate?)

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    1. I was planning something on that order for an area along our street; however, my husband objected to the plan and, as he's my chief contractor, I was out of luck.

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  10. This is one of the most beautiful locations for a woodland garden that I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing. I loved the flamingo flock! Fun!!!
    David/:0)

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    1. I dream of having a woodland garden, David, that that's a difficult goal to achieve in SoCal! Thanks for popping by my blog and I'm glad to see you're back to posting too.

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