#GBFling14: Danger Garden

It took almost four years, but here it is: post # 1000! I’m dedicating it to a very special garden I had the privilege of visiting in July during the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling: the appropriately named Danger Garden.

I’ve been following Loree Bohl’s fantastic blog for a number of years, and when we arrived at her garden, I felt a familiar sense of déjà vu. I suppose that’s par for the course when you’ve looked at—literally—hundreds of photos of a garden before seeing it in person for the first time.


Approaching the Danger Garden

So even though I knew the general layout and design of the Danger Garden, I was still surprised by some of the details. For instance, when I walked around the left side of the house into the backyard, I was stunned to find the famous orange shade pavilion off to the left side when I could have sworn it was located straight ahead. Other Flingers had the same reaction. Amazing what an alternate reality you can create in your own head!


Beautiful Textrapanax papyrifer. I spotted suckers in the neighbor’s yard on the right; the roots had tunneled right under the driveway!

When all was said and done, the Danger Garden not only lived up to my lofty expectations, it exceeded them. With support from her husband Andrew—the very definition of a “nice guy”—Loree has created something that transcends its function as their private outdoor space. The Danger Garden is both a botanical testing ground that pushes the boundary of what can be grown in Portland’s zone 8 climate and a case study in designing an intensely personal, yet universally engaging garden on a small lot.

If you look for common plants in the Danger Garden, you’re in the wrong place. Loree is as much an “enemy of the average” as was Madame Ganna Walska, the visionary Polish opera singer turned plant collector who created Santa Barbara’s famous Lotusland. In a world where yards stocked with plants from the Home Depot or Lowe’s are the norm, the Danger Garden is a testament to individuality, a celebration of the odd and exotic, and above all a showcase of all things spiny and spiky. But unlike Lotusland, which occupies 37 acres (1.6 million sq. ft.), the Danger Garden is only 5000 sq. ft., i.e. less than a three hundredth!

So let’s take a closer look at the wonderful and wondrous plants Loree has growing in her Danger Garden. We’ll start in front of the house.


Front entrance plantings


Looking at the front of the house from the street


Loree’s driveway


Front yard plantings


I regret not having had time to look at all the plants in this area. Most of them are unusual for one reason or another.

140714_DangerGarden_082  140714_DangerGarden_010

LEFT: Manzanita (Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths') and Agave parryi ‘JC Raulston’
RIGHT: Wingthorn rose (Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha)


Wingthorn rose (Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha)

Now let’s walk down the driveway towards the back yard.


A much coveted spot of shade on a 90°+ day in July


Succulents growing next to veggies made me smile


Lila keeping an eye on her realm


First peek of the back yard

And now we’re in the back yard. The photos you’ll see were taken on two different days: on Saturday during the official Garden Bloggers Fling visit, and on Monday when Mark and Gaz (of Alternative Eden) and I went back for a private tour. That’s why you’ll see lots of people in some photos while there are none in others.


The back yard may be small but it contains a very thoughtfully curated plant collection


Amazing leaf and texture combinations wherever you look


First peek of the famous shade pavilion


Hostas are as exotic to us Californians as bananas might be to Midwesterners. They do very poorly in our climate because our summers are too dry and our winters aren’t cold enough.


I have a serious case of hosta envy


Our first look of Sammy, Loree’s oldest Yucca rostrata


Sammy is hard to miss


He wants to be in every photo


On the right is Lil’ Sanford


Lila is tiny next to Sammy!


Mark Domingo of Alternative Eden (UK) checking his photos while Lila is wishing he would pay attention to her and not to his camera


Loree surrounded by the plants she loves


I thought I had a lot of potted succulents, but Loree has me beat


So many goodies


My favorite here is Aloe ‘Fire Ranch’ on the left


I had never seen corrugated metal containers like these. Loree, where did you find them?


More potted succulents


Three Mexican fence post cactus (Pachycereus marginatus), one balloon cactus (Parodia magnifica), and two Euphorbia horrida ‘Snowflake’


Agave victoria-reginae and Agave dasylirioides


More potted agaves


Agave victoria-reginae


Dioon edule


Circle Pot by Potted


…planted with tilandsias


Water garden in a stock tank surrounded by potted succulents


Closer view


And even closer


Agave ovatifolia and Agave lophantha ‘Splendida’


Mark and Gaz of Alternative Eden chatting with Loree


View of shade pavilion


The shade pavilion is a thing of beauty


I say this with great admiration and respect (Loree and Andrew built it themselves) but also with a certain measure of envy…


…because I want a structure like this in my own back yard!


I also love the patio furniture


Loree says they bought it at IKEA in 2008; unfortunately, IKEA no longer carries this line


The area behind the shade pavilion is a lush oasis even though all plants there are containerized


Podophyllum pleianthum

In many ways, the Danger Garden is a roadmap of where I want to go in my own garden. It masterfully juxtaposes the down-to-business spikiness of succulents with the ethereal softness of large-leafed exotics. The result appeals to both people who love desert plants and those who prefer a more tropical look. It’s what you might get if Arizona and Hawaii had a love child.


2014 Garden Bloggers Fling index


  1. GREAT post!!! incredible pictures!!! actually I want a danger garden for my own! not only the shade pavilion :)

    1. Did you notice you're in one of the photos? Garden lovers make good subjects, LOL.

    2. Haha, yes!! actually I´m in two photos, but in one of them you can only see my back. I saved them as a proof I was there!!!

    3. Lisa I love the one where you and Sean seem to be looking right at the camera!

  2. I did not get good photos of that beautiful garden. Too tired, too hot. I enjoyed seeing your photos, thanks! Congratulations on #1000. It's a good one.

    1. Gail, glad you enjoyed the post. Being able to go back on Monday morning helped. I got much better photos then.

  3. You are very generous with your compliments Gerhard, and it's fun to see my garden through your eyes/lens. I'm going to look back at this post in January to remind myself of the fun summer days with my friends in the garden. Oh and the corrugated containers - they came from both Garden Fever (I think you visited there? It's near Sean's) and our local grocery chain New Seasons. I wish they were available in larger sizes.

    1. Loree, I meant every word I wrote. You've been such an inspiration for so long, I'm glad I was finally able to experience the Danger Garden.

      Yes, Mark, Gaz and I stopped at Garden Fever but I was focused on the plants, not the accessories. My bad.

  4. (p.s. honored to be the subject of #1000!)

  5. Gerhard, that was a fantastic treat! What a thorough tour, and with plant ID's too -- we should kickstarter you to tour more gardens. In that first photo of Lila she's eerily bat-like! What a sweetie she is, as are Loree and Andrew, all three the nicest garden hosts.

    1. Hey, I've been wondering what I could do when I retire! A Kickstarter campaign sounds like a brilliant idea :-)

  6. Congratulations on #1,000 - always a very special blogging milestone.

    It's been great to read your post and remember our great visit to Loree's garden. I've been gobsmacked by Loree's recent FB posts showing lots of plants bought in for the winter. Such dedication to her plants and the mark of a true enthusiast.

    It was lovely to meet you - too bad we didn't have longer to chat, but such is the way with 80 bloggers attending an event.

    I am currently wearing my Cistus T-shirt, which Mark and Gaz sent on to me :)

    1. I wish I could have spent more time chatting with you. Hopefully our paths will cross again before too long!

      I love the Cistus T-shirt design. I got one as well, and everytime I wear it, I think of the great time we had in Portland.

  7. We were both all smiles whilst reading your post Gerhard, beautiful write up of a beautiful garden!

    Seeing your photos has certainly bought back so many wonderful memories of the fling and of course seeing Loree's wonderful garden, a major highlight of our trip to Portland. It's an inspiring garden in so many ways. Reading her blog for years now, you get familiar with her garden but the experience of seeing it in the flesh is totally different, it's even more amazing!

    Well done on your 1000th post, and looking forward to your next 1000 :) and within one of those, hopefully soon, would be another opportunity that all of us would be chatting away and taking photos of Loree's garden again.

    1. Yes! We should plan on meeting in the Danger Garden every, say, 2 or 3 years :-).

      Time to get cracking on post # 1001!

  8. Such a familiar garden, but you made it seem new to me. Sorry I didn't get to know you during the fling.

    1. Thank you, Ricki! There are so many people I didn't get to talk to during the Fling. The group was just too large.

  9. What a fantastic garden! She is such a darling girl and sure loves her plants as you can tell! Congratulations!

  10. Hope I am not commenting twice...the first one disappeared. Great Blog, congratulations on 1000! I really enjoyed revisiting Loree's Danger garden from your perspective. Nice seeing it without so many people. You have captured it very well. And it is a wonderful love child : ) You have me imagining what she could do with 37 acres. What a fabulous destination garden that would be. I have never seen anyone put containers and plants together as visually attractively as Loree. I was surprised to find out they have to be put away for the winter. Wouldn't her garden make a great picture book! Thank you for the tour : )

    1. Laurin, I can't find your first post either. I'm glad you re-entered your comment.

      Like you, I would love to see what Loree would do with a larger space--or a garden in a different climate zone. She's just "got it," doesn't she?

  11. Finally looking at your blog...the day job gets in the way of everything. Thanks for the best orientation of the Danger Garden I've had, and you had some spectacular light! I knew she had some pots, but yowza. I think Portland is only 1500 miles away, or so.....

    1. I'm very glad to hear you enjoyed my post. Yes, Loree has a pot or two...or a hundred!

      El Paso to Portland is 1630 miles according to Google Maps. Wowza.

  12. Hello Gerhard, I wonder if you know the name of the tree we can see in your photos that is planted in the backyard near the pavilion and Yucca (with the very big leaves and Tillandsia pot).
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Géraud, I asked Loree, and the tree is Magnolia macrophylla: http://plantlust.com/plants/magnolia-macrophylla/.

      Thank you for reading my blog!

  13. Thank you, it's a very beautiful tree.
    I discovered your blog recently and I keep reading your posts backward.
    Greetings from the South of France!

    1. Welcome to Succulents and More then! The climate in the south of France is wonderful, you can grow so many plants.


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