Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just a Girl With a Hammer: A Portland Garden

Fellow garden blogger and friend Heather Tucker of Just a Girl With a Hammer has an amazing garden. And house. And she did it all herself. She made all of the D.I.Y. mistakes so you don't have to.

Heather was also an organizer of the 2014 Garden Blogger's Fling--plainly, a woman of many talents. So when she asked for my take on her back garden, I was a little surprised because she's got it down. So if there's any chance to see a fellow gardener's garden, I'm there! Did I also mention she's certified gold with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program? Oh, yeah. This woman rocks.

While I jumped at the chance to make a post-Fling visit last July, we decided that since her back yard was in a state of transition that I would present this post only on her super gorgeous low-water front yard, especially as it seems the West Coast is in for another dry year in 2015. Here are some design ideas and a few gorgeous native plants sprinkled in for some ideas if you are looking to xeriscape this year as now is the time to visit your local nurseries and do some spring plant shopping.


 Here's her rain garden (here's a link to a pdf of how to build one). In the foreground is California fuchsia or Zauschneria californica. It dies back in the winter but comes back with little to no water and spreads. Hummingbirds love it, too. Upper-right corner is Juncus effusus or common rush, another native. This grass can handle the wet clay of a Portland winter or the hot dry of a July dry river bed. Sedum 'Angelina' is spread throughout.


 A wide shot of her lovely home. Here's a link to a post of her "before and after" when she bought the house when it was in foreclosure. Did I mention it was in an episode or two of the t.v. show "Portlandia"? That's right, this place is a landmark. Famous. Heather is sought after by the important ones. Yup. The "Adult Babysitter" episode of Portlandia can be seen here.


Closer view of the front walk. The Yucca recurvifolia now lives with Danger Garden. These things happen.


Agave agave. Is that like pizza pizza? Lovely agaves in the hot dry south-facing sun. Some companions seem to be Lewisia cotelydon, another Pacific Northwest native that loves the gravel. Heather's got them planted in here.


Dasylirion wheeleri, or spoon yucca, not a native to Oregon but to the American Southwest. At this rate Oregon will become the American Southwest soon! Kidding aside, they are hardy here! I have two and I love them. Carex grasses in the background are also great for xeriscaping.


 Agastache rupestris 'Navajo Sunset'. A great plant for hummingbirds and pollinators, also native to the American Southwest and Mexico.


Heather planted the garden with the idea to water only twice a month, as she admittedly hates watering.


Ricinus communis 'New Zealand Purple' (I think).


Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' foreground left, thrives in poor, dry soils, attracts butterflies.


Verbascum 'Arctic Summer' front and center, Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies' behind.


How gorgeous! I love love love this garden.



Aaaah, one of my favorites, silvery buns of goodness. Cotula hispida, Heather's did not die! Heather's has great drainage and a perfect environment.



 Heather has a new mason bee home! She reports many new residents! Great news!



Physocarpus, 'Coppertina'. Physocarpus capitatus or Pacific Ninebark is the native Pacific Northwest version that I have that does not have this gorgeous dark foliage. Both have clusters of white blooms in the spring.


 Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus or zebra grass.


Bouteloua gracilis 'Blond Ambition' grass seed heads float like eyebrows.


Pennisetum macrorum 'White Lancer.'





See what a dry creek bed can look like? Very cool. Would you ever have imagined it in Portland? Yes, it does get this hot and dry here for half the year. This is a very appropriately planted garden with little maintenance for Heather.


One of my personal favorites, Sedum 'Matrona'. Always great for sunny hot locations and for pollinators. Its late-summer blooms seem to go on into autumn, too.





A final look back at a very lovely garden. I am excited to see her back garden later this summer. I will be sure and share it with you!

Heather's plant choices all fit so well for this beautiful xeriscaped front garden. They attract pollinators and are low maintenance and as mentioned earlier, she only waters twice a month even during the hottest months of the year. These photos are from last July and you can clearly see it looks amazing and I'm sure it continued to do so throughout summer into fall.

These are considerations I myself am making when planting anything new. Even though I live in the wet Pacific Northwest, it's clear that weather patterns are changing. Even without obvious changes, this region is hot and dry for a good portion of the year so this kind of planting makes sense no matter what the immediate future holds. Whether or not you enjoy watering, conserving water is something those of us in the West need to think about. And if it's this gorgeous, then, hey! I'm with you, Heather!

Thank you, Heather - a.k.a. Just a Girl With A Hammer!

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!



34 comments :

  1. This is only my second view of Heather's front garden (both through blog posts), and I love it! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You are welcome Alan. Hopefully more posts to come, her back garden is pretty big and impressive. She's got some big changes in mind, and she's an impressive gardener. Just you wait!

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  2. Nice to see somebody else's take it n Heather's fabulous garden! She's done a great job with her well composed planting scheme. Must watch that episode as soon as we get back home....

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    1. She has - she's an impressive gardener, to be sure. Talented on many levels, this one. And snarky too, which I love.

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  3. Heather has done a great job on her front garden and you captured it beautifully. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. Thanks Kris! She has done a fabulous job. I am also excited to show off her back garden....to be continued!

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  4. Gorgeous garden! Thanks for sharing Heather's space with us!

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    1. Of course, Peter! She's a good one, that Heather of ours!

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  5. I love all of the grasses, and that Verbascum 'Arctic Summer' is really interesting, it looks so soft. Cool that her house was on Portlandia :)

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    1. Heather is great with grasses. Verbascums too. It is really soft, I have one in my front garden although not in the ideal situation as it is in Heather's here. Yes...are you familiar with Portlandia? So silly but a lot of fun!

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  6. While most of me is thankful that all the Fling planning is behind us I must say I do really miss regular visits to Heather's, where I could spy on her garden. Not only is she a fantastic gardener and DIY'er but also the original hostess with the mostest. Her home was where 99% of our meetings took place. Her front garden always looks amazing, no matter the season. It's also very welcoming and 100% original, you captured it well Tamara! Now if I could just figure out what to do with that yucca, which is 5x the size it looks in these photos...

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    1. I don't doubt she's got the hostess skills too. A woman of many many talents. She can rip out baseboard....fry it up in a pan.... See? I knew her front garden always looks great...it just has that fabby quality about it, like yours Danger. Xeriscaping is the way to go I am more and more convinced, even in good ol' Portland.

      Now...your giganto yucca....do we need an intervention? Hah hahaha...NO...NEVER for plants. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever. Ever. Ever.

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  7. Maybe some day Heather will offer to host the Plant Exchange. I'd love to see this garden, it looks fabulous!

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    1. Heather...you have been officially volunteered by Miss Alison. It IS fabulous, Alison! I agree.

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    2. Heather was our first hostess, for the inaugural exchange back in...oh whenever it was. It would be fun to return and see how her back garden has progressed!

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  8. I could sit and gaze at these photos for hours. What an accomplishment! I love this garden so much! Kudos to Heather.

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    1. I know…her garden is one to study, for sure. Kudos indeed, Miss Heather! Thanks for reading, Miss Grace!!

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  9. Heather's garden is one to aspire to, for sure - it looks fab even in the colder parts of the year. She lives just up the street from me, and I sneak by there every chance I get for an inspirational shot in the ol' noggin. :)

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    1. Oh, isn't it? She has such talent, that one. Hee hee..you're so funny sneaking up there! :)

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  10. What a wonderful garden!!! I had never seen it and it is great! thank you very much for the tour :)
    I ended up not commenting on your post about manzanitas but...they are so gorgeous!!! I enjoyed it a lot, thanks.

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    1. You are welcome, Lisa! Glad you like it. I am glad you also like the manzanita post, those are something special for the West Coast. We all love your blog took Lisa! :)

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  11. Heather's garden is amazing and I think it's a smart direction to move towards! Great post, I enjoyed it!

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    1. It is smart, don't you think? We should all take note, especially with potential drought on the horizon. Thanks for reading Miss Jennifer! :)

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  12. Loved this tour! Beautiful example of a dry garden. I think I need to give my mason bees in the fence a nice home like that.

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    1. Thank you Denise! The mason bees are wonderful and really very little maintenance...super gentle and excellent pollinators. I suggest everyone could host them! Crown Bees is a great resource for both starter bees and homes.

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  13. Fab-Buu-Lus! I love it! I especially love that she added a rain garden. :o)

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    1. Why, thank you, Casa! The rain garden is a fab-buu-lus touch indeed :)

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  14. Heather has posted all along on the progress, but I think modesty has prevented such a thorough overview (especially with the glowing commentary).

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    1. Aaaah, Miss Heather IS a bit on the modest side when it comes to tooting her own horn. She's got plenty of talent and her garden is on the top of that list in my book :)

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  15. Heather's dry garden is gorgeous, so well planted. I am in love with that Arctic Summer verbascum -- the size of it! The color! And the grasses in the dry stream are a wonderful touch. Could the sotol in the 5th photo be Dasylirion texana rather than D. wheeleri? It looks like our green Central Texas native rather than the blue Wheeler's of the desert southwest. Thank you for sharing your pics. I really enjoyed this post!

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    1. Oh, that verbascum..I know! Hmmm..about the D. wheeleri...I will double check....Heather - are you out there? I have D. wheeleri (from Cistus) and it looks exactly the same but you would know your Dasylirions, Pam. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

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    2. Pam is correct, it's D. texana.

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  17. Thank you for the tour in this great garden. I love that Agastache 'Navajo Sunset'.

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