Monday, July 25, 2016

Design, plant collections and spectacular, larger-than-life sculptures dominate fabulous Fling garden

It's always interesting to poll Garden Bloggers Fling attendees about their favorite gardens.  Some like gardens that showcase collections, some like gardens that highlight design.  Personally, I had several favorite gardens at last week's Fling in Minneapolis.  But this one stood out above the rest, filled with beautiful plant selections, gorgeous design and the heart and soul of the artist and gardener who calls this stunning collection home.
Just across the border into the luscious, rolling hills of Wisconsin farmland, Wouterina De Raad's Concrete Mosaic Sculpture Garden brought it all to the game.  Chicken-lover, gardener, artist, and sculptor extraordinaire, De Raad, a self-taught artist, began creating life-size concrete and mosaic sculptures 27 years ago.
Of Dutch heritage, De Raad grew up on her family's coffee and rubber plantation in Indonesia.  She brings life to her sculpture garden by drawing on her upbringing in the Indonesian jungle. Her collection includes statues of jaguars, pythons, and other exotic and mythical creatures.  Leading the tour through garden, she regaled us with the folk tales of her childhood, and the stories from her own life that inspired her unique creations.
Welcome to the garden -- come on in!
Her love of the garden and all its inhabitants is evident in this oversized Monarch caterpillar bench, complete with the jungle-inspired monkey on its back.  And, don't miss the exotic bird on the monkey's head.
The intriguing sculpture vignettes of the garden are bound together by pretty pathways and endless beds filled with beautiful blooms, stitched together like a life-sized garden quilt.

The perfect dog breed for the serious gardener.  This one won't dig up bulbs, eat tomatoes or chase chickens!  You'd better watch out, Fletcher and Dakota, you could be replaced!
On one end of the charming clothesline, Momma and her young-un try coaxing a chicken off of the pole.
 On the other end, Mr. America holds everything in line.
The garden also sports a seemingly endless array of little cottages, sheds, workshops and other quaint buildings, each its own palette for yet another display of De Raad's artistic talent.


She wove a spell-binding tale about the jaguars in Indonesia as we passed by this building, closely guarded by her sculptural tribute to the fierce cats.
 Sadly, my iPhone notes simply read, "jaguar story," and I can't remember the details.
I marveled at every turn at her innate ability to transform the most meaningful impressions of her life's experiences into beauty and art.
The charming chicken coop, complete with its own namesake statues, was full of reused and recycled decor and several beautiful chickens.
I couldn't really get any good pics of the chicks, and after all, the garden was calling...
But even the quaint bed in front of the chicken run was an art display.  I can' resist - De Raad left no stone unturned in bringing character into this part of the garden. Each of the border stones were given unique expressions, most of them smiling up at garden visitors.

And then, the chicken chair.  Who wouldn't feel like the queen of poultry sitting atop this perch?
With so much to see in this 3-acre garden, visitors can stop and rest at many lovely seating areas. This perennial border dotted with lilies frames the man and dog sculpture in the background.  I didn't catch the story of the body-less head the man is holding, but I'm sure it's a doozy!

 This seating vignette transports me to Alice in Wonderland...

Most of the sculptures in the garden are also lighted.  I would have loved to seen this magical place in the evening, with all of De Raad's concrete family members shining beacons across the garden.
After hours of editing and prepping, this post only skirts the beginning of this amazing garden.  So, stay tuned, another post is yet to come!









Monday, July 18, 2016

Gorgeous gardens dominate 2016 Garden Bloggers Fling in Minneapolis

I just returned from a wonderful 5 days at the annual Garden Bloggers Fling, held this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It was a long weekend filled with good friends, good food and gorgeous gardens.  It's always so fun to spend time with long-time friends, some of whom came to the very first Fling in Austin, and to meet new Flingers and get to know them.

Our first stop was the Eloise Butler Wildlife Garden and Bird Sanctuary.  The garden includes 500 different plant species and more than 130 bird species.

It was a cool morning -- which felt like heaven to this Texas girl who left behind temps in the 100s in Austin.  We began walking through the most amazing wildflower prairie, walking through narrow paths with beautiful blooms up to my waist and higher.  We brushed by many plants I knew, and many that I didn't.  Peaceful, serene and natural, the garden provided the perfect start our day.


I didn't many photos in this garden, as I focused on being in the moment, truly able to reach out and touch the garden with every step.


These were some of my favorite blooms in the garden.


See how high the wildflowers were?


This is just a short, teaser post. Many more are percolating in my head, so check back soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

More Chanticleer magic -- the Tea Cup Garden

I really had no sense of the vastness that awaited me in all three of the gardens that my friend, Pam, of Digging, and I visited on our recent trip to the Brandywine Valley area of Pennsylvania.

Upon entering the third garden, Chanticleer, on the third morning of our trip, the sun was already high in the sky and the day was heating up.  The entrance area is rather small - a covered outdoor area on a patio with a nice selection of planters and a desk where the staff politely welcomed us.  We started where most people start, entering through the small Kitchen Courtyard Garden just beyond the entrance.

The initial courtyard is filled with creative planters as well as fresh flowers.
Each day, the gardeners scatter fresh-cut flowers in vases and containers like this throughout the garden.  These float gently on top of the water in this pot.
Filled with an array of tempting tropicals, the next garden, beyond the ornate gate, is the Tea Cup Garden.  It is said to change significantly from year to year or even season to season, as most of its plants don't overwinter in the this cold-climate garden.  Come on in, the weather's fine.
Taken by this delicate display, Pam captures it with her camera.

Now, my turn!
I love the reflection of the light in the sky against the glass table top, adding another dimension to this vignette.

The namesake of this garden, a tea cup-like planter, provides the focal point of the inner courtyard filled with tropical plants.
Groupings of pots add interest around the perimeter of the courtyard on the right.
The left side of the courtyard includes a raised bed garden, filled with alliums, punctuated by two stunning ceramic planters with silver ponyfoot and bromeliads.

This marks only the beginning of the garden's vast display of bromeliads.  To add to the level of detail in both garden design and identification, Chanticleer's website includes a meticulously created plant list for each garden.  Which, by the way, changes with the seasons and the years.  I assumed it would just be an alphabetical list, which would have made IDing plants complicated. Then I clicked on the link and found this -- amazing.
With a small collection of bromeliads, I can't wait to get all my posts done and then take a good look at the plant list to start making my own wish list!
This delicate peach Brugmansia, 'Charles Grimaldi,' rests in a clever container, contrasting beautifully with the rich, eggplant colors of Begonia 'sparks will fly'  and Neoregelia ‘Elwood.’
So, finally I get to the alliums.
My love affair with alliums began in 2009 at the site of the second Garden Bloggers Fling in Chicago.  You can see my post about that tour here.
I tried twice to grow them in Austin, but our weather heated up much too quickly for them (at least in the years I tried to grow them) and the foliage was fried to a crisp before they reached 1/2 of their mature height. I even planted varieties specifically known to grow in Zone 9, but it just wasn't meant to be.  So, they hold a special interest for me on garden tours to more temperate climates.  I'll have to settle for enjoying the onion blooms in my veggie garden.
Their kaleidoscope structure is even more intriguing up close and personal.
Naturally, Pam and I had to take a selfie with them, though they sort of look like they're coming out of the back of our heads!
There were so many more beautiful plants and vignettes in the Tea Cup Garden -- these are just the highlights.  Next, we'll venture further into the garden.  If you missed my first two posts about our fabulous garden trip, you can find them here - Chanticleer's  Ruin Garden, and here - Longwood Conservatory Garden post #1 (also filled with bromeliads).

I haven't had time to post all week, but it feels great to "stroll" through my garden photos and share my memories with you.  I'll have another one soon!