Wednesday, November 1, 2017

From agave to yucca: more from the Danger Garden

Remember this song from the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun?

Highway to the danger zone
Right into the danger zone
Highway to the danger zone 
Gonna take you right into the danger zone

Substitute "danger zone" with "Danger Garden" and you have the theme song of Loree Bohl's popular blog. After all, its motto is "Careful, you can poke an eye out."

As I said in this post, I didn't lose an eye or any other vital body part while exploring Loree's front garden on my mid-September trip to Portland, Oregon. But more danger lurks around the back, behind this impressive agave gate designed by Loree's artist husband Andrew (read more about the gate here).


But before we step through the gate, let's take a look at the grouping of plants against the side of the house:


Combining tomatoes and herbs with agaves is classic Loree:


Also note the hanging planters on the garage wall (on the left in the photo below). Loree just brought them inside for the winter. Click here to see what she replaced them with.


Bringing together plants from very different geographical regions and climates, the back garden defies easy categorization. It's a desert garden, an exotic garden and a shade garden; there's a stock tank with fish and there are carnivorous plants. And there is a huge collection of pots—most on the ground, some on tables, others hanging in trees and on walls. All of it is an expression of Loree's unique vision and creativity.

Looking towards the house, with the garage on the right

LEFT: Circle Pot from Potted under Clifford, the big-leaf magnolia   RIGHT: Chartreuse pot from Gainey Ceramics (unfortunately out of business now) with Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls'

Bromeliad trellis next to the garage 

"Bulletin board" planters with Begonia 'Curly Fireflush' and Dichondra argentea (click here for more information on how Loree created them)

The section known as "agaveland" with two of Loree's dish planters (click here to find out how she made them and here for a 2017 update)

Shade garden against the garage wall

Shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia)

Rice-paper plant (Tetrapanax papyrifer)

The juxtaposition of large-leafed plants and spiky succulents is what makes the Danger Garden so exciting to me. And even within one category—leafy or spiky—there's a tremendous amount of textural contrast. 

Yucca rostrata (nicknamed Sammy) and Nolina 'La Siberica'

View towards the patio and the shade pavilion (left)

Patio surrounded by an amazing collection of plants, both potted and in the ground. Loree's garden is full of botanical curiorisities and it takes time to discover them all.

View from the patio towards the house (straight ahead), lawn (left), and garage (right)

Each plant is interesting on its own, but Loree's knack for arranging plants so they contrast and complement each other takes this to the next level

Three Mexican fencepost cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) paired with four Euphorbia horrida 'Snowflake'—this is a combination I must recreate myself

Looking towards the stock tank pond

I'm beginning to repeat myself, but these are simply amazing plants

Take a look at those metal containers! The next time I'm in Portland, I'll ask Loree to take me to some of the places where she finds treasures like that.

While there are other kinds of plants as well, Loree's love of agaves shines through

Agave ovatifolia is a real eye catcher here

Cluster of pots on the patio table

Look at that impressive Agave utahensis var. eborispina in the back!

The botanical wonders never end in the Danger Garden. Aloe dorotheae on the right is a stunner. Yes, it is that red!

Looking back towards the house (top left) and garage (top center), with the shade pavilion on the right

This Agave lophantha 'Splendida' in the funnel is still one my favorite potted combo

More potted beauties as we turn towards the shade pavilion

The next photo offers a full view of the shade pavilion. In the winter it becomes a greenhouse for plants that need to be protected from the rain and/or cold. Read this post on the Danger Garden blog for details. The design and techniques Loree and her husband Andrew came up with are pure genius. I have no handy bone in my body, so I'm always in awe of people who are able to come up with creative solutions—and actually build them!



Arrangements on the table inside the shade pavilion. Again, Loree's skillful juxtapositions blow my mind.

Ditto here. The Danger Garden is full of brilliant ideas come to life. And yet what you see above is just a brief moment in time. By now, this beautiful composition is long gone.

Bromeliads are another group of plants featuring prominently in the Danger Garden. These combos in tall metal tubes are killer. They are tender so the pots resting inside the tubes are lifted in the fall and moved into the basement.

So many textures playing off each other. The large-leafed plant in the stock tank on the right is Podophyllum pleianthum. The raised concrete slab in front of the stock tank is Loree's fern table.

Another view of the shade pavilion as we swivel to the right

Potted plants to the right of the shade pavilion and patio set

The color story—orange, black and gray containers, green and gray plants—is both vibrant and remarkably restrained. I simply wouldn't have the discipline to pull this off.


Agave applanata 'Cream Spike' in various combinations

Since I was staying with Loree and Andrew during my visit, I had ample opportunity to explore the Danger Garden. But it still wasn't enough. Like a good book or movie, a visit to Loree's garden is a special treat that is over way too quickly.

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29 comments:

  1. Funny — recently I bought 3 Mexican fenceposts (not yet planted) and I have coming in the mail some Euphorbia horrida 'Snowflake.' Now I know what to do with them. Thanks, Gerhard (and Loree)!

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    1. Yay! Hopefully yours won't get that strange growing tip a couple of mine did (not enough light last winter).

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    2. Loree, I actually like the growing tips on your 'Snowflake'. They look like little hats!

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  2. With the beating her garden took this last winter I am so happy to see it in such tip top shape! She is such a wonderful gardener!

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  3. I never tire of seeing Loree's garden, and you took great photos of it!

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    1. Thanks, Evan! I also enjoy seeing gardens I'm familiar with through somebody else's eyes. I always discover new things that way.

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  4. Loree could conduct a master class or write a book on designing with succulents. And you, Gerhard, could handle the photography!

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    1. Loree absolutely needs to write a book. *WE* need a Loree book! I'd be happy to help with the photography :-)

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  5. Beautiful tour of a beautiful garden. Loree's energy must be off the charts - her creativity sure is.

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    1. Loree and her Danger Garden are an inspiration. I left Portland completely reenergized.

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  6. Wonderful post. So much to ponder. I'll be back to this one.

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    1. You and me both. I've drawn so much inspiration from the Danger Garden.

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  7. She always has such a masterfully curated set of potted plants, and impeccably groomed. Visiting her garden at its height of glory during the summer is such a treat. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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    1. "Curated" is the perfect word. Everything in Loree's garden is carefully selected and placed.

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  8. I always love when others visit gardens that I "know" -- you get a different view. Sure lots of this is familiar from Loree's posts, but you show more all at once. :)

    So clean, so frustratingly clean...

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    1. I know what you mean. I couldn't help but make a mental comparison between my garden and Loree's. But then I decided there's no point in that and I immediately felt better.

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    2. Seriously clean. Does Loree have a debris-vac?

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  9. Thanks for the great tour of Lorees' garden ! I can't believe how great her potted Cream Spikes look-mine just languished in a container .

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    1. I haven't had much luck with 'Cream Spike' in a container either. But let's face it, Loree has the magic touch!

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  10. You're photos flatter Gerhard, thank you. It was so much fun having you here, please come up for a HPSO spring plant sale. It would be so much fun!!!

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    1. I'll seriously consider it. It's always fun hanging with you and Andrew and the other Portland plant peeps.

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  11. As someone who is increasingly frustrated caring for small containers and tries to reduce their numbers, I am in awe. I should just forward half my potted plants on to Loree -- I'd know they were in a good home!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. I've been trying to reduce the number of containers as well. I was making progress but this year their number has grown again. And after seeing the Danger Garden, I have pot envy and want more although I know perfectly well how silly that is.

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  12. An excellent combination: great photographer, great garden.

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  13. Gerhard, as per usual your photos are a complete beautiful surprise take on a garden that we all think we already know well through Loree's own garden photos, and it is even more beautiful than i had imagined. You have really given a whole new image of it for me. I completely agree, a book would be great.

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    1. David, your comment made my day. I'm very happy that I was able to convey what a special garden this is.

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  14. Wow! Thanks for your excellent views; I would say the English language defies enough adjectives for the alluring detail everywhere. The edgy northwestern desert subtropical garden...

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