Foundation Foliage With Attitude!
I had the opportunity to visit the Portland garden of Loree Bohl a few days ago. Loree is known in the garden writing community for her popular blog Danger Garden where she indulges her love of spiky plants, saying “Nice plants are boring – my love is for plants that can hurt you. Agave, yucca, anything with a spike or spur!”
With my traveling, first aid kit fully stocked I bravely ventured forth! While one could write an entire book on Loree’s garden, covering her considerable collections (you can see her plant list here), her fabulous contemporary containers of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and her impressive shade structure I was especially excited to discover this little vignette right by her front door. This area is often referred to as ‘foundation planting’ since the aim is to hide the lower part of the house walls. In Seattle the chances are it will include a rhododendron and a juniper – not terribly exciting or ambitious so this extravagant combo had me grabbing my camera!
This combination blends dry desert plants (agave, yucca, and cactus) with bold tropical-esque canna and with the fine feathery Arkansas blue star perennial that would look equally at home in a mixed border in England – WOW! So many distinct styles yet they all meld together so well thanks to a tight color palette and great textures.
In true Danger Garden style, there are plenty of wicked-looking plants but these are tempered with softer textures of Fine Line buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula ‘Ron Williams’) and Arkansas blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii), the wonderfully geometric succulent foliage of gopher spurge (Euphorbia rigida) and the over-sized bold Australia canna (Canna ‘Australia’) leaves.
Cool, Contemporary Colors
This foliage feast offers cooling shades of silvery-blue and green accented with burgundy and black, all set off by the rich charcoal siding of the home, acid-green front door, and crisp white trim.
Attention to detail is evident as colors and shapes are repeated and a lime green hanging Hover planter by Pot Inc continues the theme.
Loree overwinters tender plants indoors (although all those planted in the ground are ‘technically hardy”) and hand waters in summer to make sure each plant gets just the right amount of moisture for it to thrive. While most of these are drought tolerant, the canna appreciates more regular water and as she pointed out to me, she waters the agave in summer to make them GROW!