Garden Blogger's Fling, Portland: JJ De Sousa's Garden
The garden of JJ De Sousa is something special. JJ is not only a fab gardener but also the owner of Portland's Digs Inside and Out, a boutique for garden and home. As her home garden was a stop on this year's Garden Blogger's Fling, we should definitely take a look around.
As when I also cheated a bit with my Joy Creek Nursery post in relation to the Fling, I was not actually at JJ's garden for the tour. The day the Fling descended upon her garden, they were also descending on Chickadee Gardens. Luckily, JJ opens her gardens from time to time for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's open gardens, so I took advantage of that opportunity and visited on a hot summer's day with only a few other people around.
The front garden is shady and hides surprises beyond in the sunny garden.
The front gate at the curb gives a hint of what's to come, a vibrant garden with orange accents everywhere. It's no surprise she chose orange. After all JJ is Dutch and well, they are the Orange People in that orange is their national color. We have a strong affection for the Dutch. Go Netherlands!!
Shady hostas, ferns, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' grass and begonias all make for a lush shade garden. The front of the house faces west, but is blocked by very large evergreen trees, so it likely doesn't see a lot of sun.
This is when I fell in love with a rhododendron, right here. I ended up purchasing a Rhododendron pachysanthum from Gossler Farms. I am not sure what this species is so feel free to chime in - I bought what I thought was a close match and I'm very happy with my R. pachysanthum.
JJ has seating everywhere, which is intentional. She told me that her garden can comfortably seat 66 people, that's a great party garden on a slightly larger than normal Portland lot at 77 x 127 feet (most are 50 x 100, as is ours at Chickadee Gardens).
The steps to the front door are flanked on either side with colorful orange accents, begonias, ferns and fuchsias.
The path on the south side leads to sunshine in the back.
Like an explosion of fireworks, bursts of color in plant material, pots, cushions and garden art dominate in this hot setting. Orange may be the predominant color, but there are hints of reds, greens and blues.
Deluxe seating area. The material on these sofas is made for the outdoors so is durable and I'm sure expensive, but if you entertain a lot it's worth it. JJ encourages others buy the best quality as you get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor furnishings. It lasts longer so doesn't end up getting thrown out, one less thing tossed into the landfill pile.
Looking up from the seating area (pictured above) is this upper level deck with a table, seating for many and these two red illuminated pots. Yes, that's right, what I wouldn't give to see them at night. In fact, garden writer Janet Loughrey has an article in this quarter's Garden Design magazine with her photos of JJ's garden illuminated at night, see the article here.
The hardscaping is contemporary and horizontally oriented, so there is a feeling of cohesiveness to the space. Along the gravel path are a series of olive trees and hydrangeas, not what I would think to put together but they work. In my next garden I will have olive trees, JJ has inspired.
Agaves, sedums and nasturtiums, an eclectic mix.
The corrugated metal fence continues around to the east side of the garden with more olive trees to line the perimeter.
More horizontal accents and corrugated metal siding. The garden room has not been forgotten when it comes to design and details carried across to every aspect of the garden.
Here you can see the blue accents on her home. This is a very European-style home in its brick construction and color accents for the windows. In fact, JJ told me she was drawn to this home in part because of its European feel. The blue window frames play off of the orange of the bricks - complimentary colors that subtly activate the space. This is true of terra cotta colors mixed with turquoise - two complimentary colors in tints and shades.
These chicken nesting boxes are now filled with hens and chicks. Clever.
With a multitude of influences it feels fun, exuberant and welcoming.
Now facing north, the metal fencing continues. Agaves and orange repeated throughout also helps to tie it all together. Behind the wooden fence to the right is a lovely greenhouse.
She has a mix of garden art from all over the world, no one single theme and that allows her a broad range of possibilities to personalize her garden.
Repeat patterns add rhythm, a constant beat which cuts through confusion and unifies the garden.
JJ told me that when she found the house, it was slated for demolition. She loved it, saw its potential and bought it. The size is small, just right for her to allow the garden and its outdoor rooms to take center stage.
Even ordinary street signs become points of interest when seen out of context.
The pocket wall garden is a nice touch, an easy way to have an instant vertical garden.
I imagine she sells them at Digs Inside and Out.
View from the upper garden looking south and east.
Now facing south and west.
Our Lady of Guadalupe.
There is a good amount of metal art---I believe this is by a Portland artist. JJ carries a lot of interesting treasures at her store like this. If you are in the Portland area and have a chance to go, it's a really fun store.
Facing east we see the garden shed, and just visible on the right, the upper deck with a good-sized dining table.
When grasses get this large, they become architecture. Stunning.
Facing west, the sweet little house.
Around every corner is another welcoming seating area.
I believe this is a former chimney turned into a planter.
More metal garden art. I spy some holiday lights behind this fishy, I imagine he sparkles when the sun goes down.
Arctostaphylos trained as standards - I saw these at Xera Plants recently, but I think JJ may have done this herself.
When I saw this garden for the first time, I had no words for it I was so overwhelmed. It's true, JJ lives and breathes decoration, design and gardening and so has access to some fantastic furnishings, decor and plants. Beyond the sparkle, however, there are really strong bones to this garden as well as a definite focus on entertaining. She obviously considered what she wanted this garden to be, that is to say an entertaining wonderland full of her personality. She maintained certain aesthetics throughout, repeated color themes and plays with color and complimentary colors (blue and orange, red and green for example). Her plant choices are appropriate for each microclimate (with the help of a greenhouse, I suspect) and I'm sure this garden evolved over a long period of time. The lesson for me is to be true to my own vision and really work at having one. JJ's personality shines brightly here and I for one am inspired.
Thank you for reading and until next week, happy gardening!