Garden Blogger's Fling, Portland: Kuzma Garden

 Continuing on, in no particular order. We've been touring gardens from the Garden Blogger's Fling, let's visit another.  Our third and final day took us to six different gardens, all private, and I will cover them all eventually. Today, let's take a look at the garden of John Kuzma in southwest Portland.

This garden is on a half an acre (oh, how I wish I had that much space!) and about four years old. It's designed by none other than Sean Hogan of Cistus fame. It's got to be good, don't you know!

The day we arrived, it was ironically wet. This is a hot summer Mediterranean-style garden so the rain in July was most unusual. It put a gray cast on the visit, but somehow, through it all, very vibrant images stick with me. We'll get to those in a minute. First, though, let's peek around the front garden.

With a Yucca rostrata up front, I automatically think of Cistus and how cool this garden already is.

Opuntia! Spiky goodness.

His many arctostaphylos species seem a little crispy, but healthy otherwise. We had a brutal winter with temperatures in the low teens which is unusual. It did take its toll on his garden, John told us, and some plants that were not well-established suffered.

No damage here, just incredible foliage on this eucalyptus and, I believe, phormium.

Headed into the open back garden, a few fellow bloggers and I spy an eco-roof on his shed. Nice to see that!

One of my new favorites, agastache. This was so luminous on this gray, rainy day, it really lit up the garden. 

More fabulous foliage.

This famous agave garden was covered very well by Danger Garden, you can read about it here. It has grown in since then. The whole garden has, actually. Pam Penick of Digging fame blogged about her Fling experience here with some wonderful photos of the garden, especially the crevice garden pictured.

Foliage really does dominate here. Until you see this:

This to me is perfection. Orange, yucca spikes, glaucous leaves, it's just a beautiful setting. I did feel that way when I took these photographs, but I have to admit that I was much more excited when I saw the photos after the fact. Maybe it was the rain and cold temperatures while wearing shorts and being wet that made me less than over the moon. I would love to go back on a sunnier day.

Anigozanthos flavidus or kangaroo paws, from Australia, of course!

More in yellow blossoms, and an unknown plant behind. Feel free to chime in if you know what it is, I hadn't noticed it until I reviewed the photos. 

This is my favorite photo of the lot. Aaah, such a perfect grouping.

Another favorite. Ok, I have a few favorites. See what I mean about vibrant?

Zaushneria, I am not sure which one, but several varieties do very well in this area.

The open gravel area just behind the house. A few fellow bloggers find refuge under the patio cover.

Fellow blogger Ryan from Botanical Interests enjoying the garden.

At the edge of the gravel area, a lovely water feature with cattails, colocasia (elephant ears), palms and other delights.

I do like this feature, the rust patina gives it an aged feel.

Phormium, very well-established, as it looks pretty good considering most in Portland perished last winter.

Looking from the back patio towards the outer garden, you can just see the eco-roof in the middle.

The fountain from the other side.

While a few plants in the Kuzma garden definitely got hit hard by our winter, many agaves showed no signs of damage. Perfection, really.

Just as we were ready to leave, the sun finally made an appearance. The colors shifted to highlight the warm tones and everyone had a smile on. Poplars in the background frame the whole scene.

A last shot of the front garden, quite small in comparison to the very open back garden. You would not know what surprises are behind the house just by seeing this. Don't get me wrong, this is fabulous, just much smaller.

More yellows - sedum, agave, kangaroo paws.

And, finally, this wonderful shrub in the front; it's a mystery shrub to me. Matthew of the Lent's Farmer knows, if my memory serves me right...maybe he can help a poor gardener out!

A parting close-up shot of these very interesting flowers on this very interesting shrub.

As mentioned, this garden is very foliage heavy, something I really respond to. I appreciated the layout and planting choices, some unusual specimens with a lot of personality. I definitely see the influence of Sean Hogan of Cistus in the use of many interesting evergreens hardy to our area, something that is so important in the dead of winter when so much perennial foliage is nowhere to be found. I did not see a lot of native plants which is too bad but it's a stunning garden with a definite focus, so that works for me. The hardscaping is a key element in this garden, too - that did not go unnoticed.

Thank you, John Kuzma, for opening your garden to us, it was a delight to be able to see it in person!

Thank you all for reading and until next, week happy gardening! I think another Fling post is coming up next week, so stay tuned.


  1. I hope you find out the name of that shrub, I'm intrigued too. I've been tempted to buy a kangaroo paw, but haven't succumbed yet. It would need to overwinter in the greenhouse, and I'm not sure how much room I'll have in there this winter.

    1. Aah, Alison - Danger ID'd the shrub. Yes, Danger, we both need a Grevillea victoriae. Thank you.

  2. Great pics Tamara! Certainly brings back memories of a fabulous garden!

    1. Thanks guys! Remember how cool and wet that day was? Still, the photos are warm!

  3. I thought this garden was incredible. Beautiful pictures!
    By the way, could that unknown plant behind be Acanthus senii?
    The Yucca in the first picture is stunning.

    1. I did too, Lisa and thanks for the plant ID - Danger confirms you are right! Thank you!

  4. Great shots Tamara! I was over there just last week taking photos, it's amazing how much everything has grown since the Fling. Lisa is correct with her ID of Acanthus senii and I believe the shrub is Grevillea victoriae. You need one!

    1. Thanks, Danger. It has grown that much in two months? Wowsers. Thanks for the plant ID's, now I can go spend more money on plants that I have no room for.

  5. Oh yes, i do remember this place from Danger Garden's blog. Dang, that place is amazing. You took really beautiful photos too.

    1. Isn't it amazing? Thanks for the compliment, Fifi! When do I get to see yours?? :)

  6. Those kangaroo paws adding rich color to the cool silvers and grays of the agaves and yuccas just made me swoon. Such a great combo, one I wish I could replicate here in Austin, but the k-paws hate it here, alas. I loved the gray, cool day we were treated to on this day of the tour -- relief from the heat, and it made all the colors pop. But then I don't get as much of that kind of weather in Austin as you do, so I can see why you preferred the sun. :-)


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