Monday, June 30, 2014

Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling, Day 2

Day 2 of the Asheville Fling started off at the lovely hillside garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling. I began my wandering at the top of the hill looking down onto the main house. 


The light through the trees beckoned me further up the hill into a bamboo grove. 





Back down by the house the lawn provided some nice seating areas. 


The planting beds were full of lovely combinations and textures. 





A lovely bench built into the wall:



And this guest house/propagation area was pretty interesting. 


Next we headed to an even bigger house - The Biltmore Estate. 




The vastness of the view from the house was surprising. It seemed to stretch on forever. 



The details were amazing, right down to the lizards. 


The gardens were expansive and immaculate. 










I'm curious what this plant is - with succulent red stems, bluish leaves and living in the greenhouse. Looks like it might freeze in Northern California, but maybe not...



Back up near the house the wisteria walk must be lovely in bloom. 



2014 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

I'm just going to interrupt my Asheville postings for a moment to show some images from the 2014 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. The show had new owners this year so I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. They managed to get the gardens into a more dramatic setting by pushing them closer together and controlling the background with plenty of black curtains. Previous years' gardens were too spread out and felt lost or had the mood spoiled by a concession sign blinking in the background. 

Some of the gardens were great, some not-so-great, and some were just plain weird. Gotta love the SF Flower and Garden Show!

The first garden to great you was swirling with succulents around a Captain Nemo-esque metal sailing vessel. Not meant for the open seas, more for the open road (a.ka. open desert a la Burning Man) the submarine-like vehicle was beautifully made with an interior cabin and upper deck. Created by        , I would love to take a cruise in it. The surrounding gardens, by Clearwater Design, were well planned so that it looked as if the ship was hiding in a coral reef. 




View through the periscope:




Next door was a much more subtly dramatic garden by Terra Ferma Landscape

grape vine globe

Interesting linear planting scheme. It would be fun to try this in a garden and see how it grows over time. Might work... I'm not sure about the wine bottle paving though, especially with the concave ends. Seems like that would trap water and create lots of little mosquito factories. 


The next garden in our path kind of freaked me out. The garden was dark and creepy with harsh un-naturally colored lights. The plants seemed aggressive, lurking in the shadows and the angular planting beds didn't make the space feel any more inviting. 



Looking at the illuminated sheets of white glass in the center of the display brought visions to mind of that trio of villains from Superman, Zod and company, dressed in black vinyl, all aggressive and 80's looking. They were all stuck in a similar flat prism, banished from their home. Kind of made me afraid to walk into this garden for fear I'd get trapped in one of the prisms, my face pressed to the glass looking out, silently screaming and spinning through outer space. 

Well, turns out this garden, created by students of The Academy of Art, and was symbolically based on land use surrounding Market Street in San Francisco and honestly, this garden has the nightmarish feel of what it might be like to try to create a garden on the real Market Street - harsh and aggressive with things lurking in the shadows. (Although I do hear that Market is looking much better these days.)


Anyway, on to the next garden. This garden is by the students of Arizona State University and I have to say they always seem to do something interesting. I like some of the construction elements this year. The repeating slats of the green fence really created an energy and while the shape of the end piece might be a bit awkward looking at it straight on, the backside of the fence was really dramatic. Plus they had chairs made out of propane tanks that were surprisingly comfortable to sit in. 


And now I'm going to have to find a client that will let me paint their fence a gradient of red-orange-yellow. This fence in the display really made the garden come alive. The plants looked fabulous against it. The horizontal construction looks pretty cool but I have to put on my party pooper hat now and point out that this fence would rot in no time outdoors since any water would pool up on the wide flat surfaces. They also had charred wood fencing that was a lovely rich textural black. But the torching process sounds a little too labor intensive for me though. 



"Sanctuary Steppes" by Garden Hortica and Healing Spirit Plants created a lovely landscape of edible, medicinal and useful plants. I give them the award for best use of the black curtain backdrop - their white birch and white stones really popped against the black. 


Cool yurt, dude. 


Next door we find John Greenlee's meadowy vineyard garden. Very charming although maybe not the most exciting. 



Beuno Luna's garden would win the award for garden I'd most like to have in my own backyard. With nice hardscape and a realistic plant palette, it was calming and down to earth. 



This garden used water totes to create a water storage system that not only caught the run off from the roof but supported the roof as well. Beneath the patio were additional water storage tanks that the rain could percolate down into. My only problem with the set up would be that I imagine one would have to scrub out the storage totes every now and then but if they are actively supporting the overhead structure there is no way to access them for cleaning. 



Across the way was a garden that made me feel as if I had walked into a carnival made entirely of bamboo. 


And it seemed very wasteful with water splashing all about. 


The plantings would be appropriate in Hawaii not Northern California. 


The next garden made me wonder if the creators had conceived the concept during an acid flashback. 


And what's with the dragons popping up in the show gardens? I remember a very pet-able one from a couple of years ago. 


So there you have it. There certainly were more entertaining gardens this year. Some well made some not so much. But you got to love the theatrics! Even if they have no basis in the reality of gardening. You just have to hope the average attendee knows the difference.