I expect that many of you are familiar with Loree Bohl of danger garden fame. Loree's blog was one of the first I started following, even before I started blogging myself. I've gotten to know her both virtually, through her blog and her Instagram posts, and in person. I've prodded her at intervals over the years to write a book to share her garden aesthetic and philosophy and now she's done just that! Her book, Fearless Gardening: Be Bold, Break the Rules, and Grow What You Love, was released yesterday. I happily signed on to support a virtual launch party. In addition to offering input on the book, I get to conduct a drawing for a free copy of her book and one other also published by Timber Press so keep reading.
|This and the other photos in this post were provided courtesy of Timber Press|
You may be familiar with Loree's love of spiky plants and other growing things that "could poke an eye out." You might assume that her reference to "fearless gardening" stems from her willingness to garden using such plants in Portland, Oregon, which has a climate that wouldn't seem to support many of her favorites. Denying the constraints of one's climate could certainly be regarded as "fearless" - and possibly foolish. But Loree is anything but a foolish or reckless gardener. Yes, she loves agaves and other succulents that grow happily in dry climates like mine but she's learned how to work within the constraints imposed by her climate to grow what she loves where she lives, and her book shares her approach with you. I'm not going to try to explain her approach in a few sentences (I couldn't - you need to read her book!) but, among other things, she addresses the importance of developing a thorough understanding of each plant's unique requirements in terms of light, moisture, and drainage as well as an appreciation of the various microclimates in your own garden. Choosing plants solely on the basis of USDA hardiness zones places arbitrary limits on plant selections. Two gardens with the same hardiness designation may present entirely different challenges and opportunities. In my own zone 11a garden, cold hardiness is of far less concern than heat tolerance and water requirements while in Loree's case, both winter freezes and heavy rain are serious considerations. All gardeners can learn a lot by reading her book and thinking through how to work around the limitations of their environment.
|These look like plants that can thrive in my climate (and they do) but this is the view outside Loree's front door in Portland|
Loree shares many of the creative ways she's found to grow what she likes by working around specific challenges. For example, she uses a lot of containers that can be moved or protected when temperatures drop too low or persistent winter rain threatens to drown their contents. The variety, placement, and even the colors of the containers she uses are all informed by her design aesthetic and together look like a curated collection. Her summer shade pavilion turned winter greenhouse also must be seen to be believed. (The same can be said for her basement's winter plant sanctuary, which is mentioned but not shown in her book.)
|Loree's fabulous dish planters, containers that can be swapped out when the weather changes|
|Loree's shade pavilion converted for its winter use as a greenhouse, stylish in both incarnations|
The ideas and advice in Fearless Gardening have general application to gardeners in all climates - I can apply much of it to my own circumstances despite the fact that, in coastal Southern California, I live in what's regarded as a Mediterranean climate where summer heat and persistent drought are big factors and winter cold is barely a consideration. The only chapter I found somewhat inapplicable to my own circumstances was the one focused on hardy plant look-alikes for desert and tropical plants; however, even there, Loree's discussion of her approach to locating alternatives to create the vision she wished to achieve was helpful. As she says in the introduction to that chapter, she knows people in Southern California that would like to grow tulips and peonies (guilty!) and, like her, I've gradually discovered ways to replace something that will grow here for the plants that stubbornly refuse to.
|Pittosporum matudae has a tropical look but handles the colder winter conditions in Portland|
As a final comment before I get to the giveaway, I found Loree's book a pleasant read. She has a straightforward yet friendly way of approaching each topic. She weaves useful information in without ever coming off as teachery. Her attention-grabbing plant vignettes, used to knit together areas of her garden, are inspiring in themselves. She's done an excellent job illustrating her points with photos (mostly her own) from her garden, as well as other gardens. She challenges all of us to think beyond the boundaries defined by common practice to find inventive solutions to create the gardens living in our mind's-eye.
|A glorious combination of Leonotis leonurus and Ensete ventricosum|
Okay, if you'd like to participate in the giveaway and you have a valid US mailing address, please leave a comment below by January 16th. I'll put all names in a hat and ask my husband to pull one out at random. I'll request the winner's address and provide this to Timber Press, which will mail that person a copy of Fearless Gardening, as well as The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration & Innovative Planting Techniques of Chanticleer by R. William Thomas, one of the books specifically mentioned in Loree's book. Good luck!
All photos used in this post are copyrighted © 2021 by Loree Bohl and/or other copyright holders. All rights reserved.
All other material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party