Some photos of Portland, Oregon gardens visited mid July that welcome flowers to varying degrees. Procreation is messy (to paraphrase a former secretary of defense), and zero emphasis on flowers and their disheveled aftermath is the answer for some gardens. The beauty to be found in leaves can be just as strong an attractant to people as flowers are to pollinators. Degree of sun/shade, region and climate are always considerable factors too. (Much of the native landscape of Southern California prefers to sleep through July.) But in the artificial construct of the garden, as a general rule, growing plants for their flowers (or fruit) requires more water and richer soil, though there are admittedly plenty of splendid, thirsty plants grown for their leaves (gunnera) and a wide choice of relatively drought-tolerant flowering plants. Architectural form-and-foliage gardens have probably the best chance of looking presentable for the longest period of time, but Portland’s climate is very cooperative with a vision of summer that includes the spectacle of flowers. See for yourself. And note the balance of beautiful leaves punctuated by the rich colors and equally fascinating, if fleeting, architecture of flowers.
John Kuzma’s garden
Westwind Farm Studio
Scott’s seductive prairie dream at Rhone Street Gardens.
beehive and flowering Blue Grama Grass at Pomarius Nursery
These photos remind me of how everything blooms at once in Portland. So strange. Although I couldn’t imagine a garden without blooms to attract the tiny wildlife, I know people who would prefer to never see anything that flits or hear anything that buzzes in their gardens. They’re not particularly pro-foliage, they’re just anti-insect. 🙁
Alan, that’s a good point. I’ve definitely seen a fear of stinging insects with visitors to my garden, but I wonder how many hands-on gardeners retain that fear. I always assumed it was a design/maintenance preference.
Despite the strong showing of flowers in Portland gardens when we visited it seems they only are incidental to the time of the year we visited. A lot of the gardens have used such strong plants with interesting foliage that even without the flowers those gardens would still look great with the interest mainly on the foliage, and at other times of the year too. Still the floral display then are not to be ignored 🙂
M&G, that’s absolutely true, along with the strong “bones” many of these gardens had.
Alan, everything blooms at once? What does that even mean?
Great floral collection Denise, and I will forevermore think of Scott’s garden as a “seductive prairie dream”…
Loree, I heard a couple other echoing Alan’s comment, that traditional early blooming stuff was still going with mid summer blooms. He would know better than me, since that succession timing for perennials just doesn’t work in LA.
I’m totally pro-flower. You go to garden with the taste you have.
Be still my heart. your photography just gets better all the time. Love the post. True, flowers are messy and labor intensive, however gardens compiled of only lovely foliage and structural plants can appear static over the season while gardens with flowers beautifully morph over the course of the seasons. a balance of both is always my choice.
@Hoov, another great paraphrase from the same former secretary of defense!
@Deanne, well said and so true. We get lots of the static kind locally.