MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Visit To The Inspiring Garden Of Little and Lewis


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I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. From the very first glimpse of the garden of George and David, I knew that I would love it. It was lightly raining the day of our visit to their place on the island, but I quickly forgot about the rain. Their small space filled with plants and pieces of art held me captive for two hours. People were coming and leaving, and I kept making circles around the garden.
The first thing that attracted my attention was this fairytail tree fountain covered by moss and ferns.
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The first word that came to my mind was fun. I was in a funny, happy place. Even the rain and dark sky couldn't destroy those feelings of fun and happiness.
I read about George and David just a tiny bit and saw several pictures of their garden gallery on the Internet, but I had no idea what I would encounter on that June morning. I was in the garden of two people internationally famous for their art and garden book! Don't you usually read a book and then, armed with the information, go and explore what you've learned? In my case, it happened the other way. Knowing close to nothing, I was absolutely unprepared and, maybe, it was even better. Everything that I saw was unexpected, and the whole experience was exciting!
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If a visit to a special garden is a great event, what would you call that visit when you could talk to the owners, ask questions, listen to their stories about individual plants and acquire their autographed book right there in the garden? Are you happy for me? I know you are!
I have only one regret after the visit. I didn't see George and David's previous garden, a bigger one, that is pictured in their book 'A Garden Gallery: The Plants, Art and Hardscape of Little and Lewis'. The new home of their garden gallery is smaller and thus can accommodate less plants and art objects. But hey, it was the very first time that they opened it for visitors! Isn't it special? It means I'll have a chance to see this place in the future as it evolves, changes and gets filled with new treasures. And, I have no doubts that I will be there again!
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A Gunnera sculpture, as other leaf sculptures, is cast from a living leaf.
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Do you see a huge pomegranate? This one is a piece of art, but David and George are experimenting with growing the real ones.
On both sides of the little narrow path in the above picture, there are rows of red and white alpine strawberries.
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The house plant seen in the picture above and others are kept inside for the winter. It takes two days to transfer the plants to the garden in the spring. The plants are firstly placed in a shady holding area for several weeks and, only after the acclimatization period, are moved to their places for the warm season.
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Can you believe that this fountain, under the Dogwood tree, is just one month old? Looks like it was here for ages! It is surrounded and underplanted with monkshood, primroses, adjugas, daylilies, podophyllum, etc.
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Podophyllum
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Hosta 'Sum and Substance'
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Columns. I find it very interesting what George says about them and other pieces: "... I am interested in making structures that in themselves may not be strictly organic -like our columns- but that suggest an organic origin through their surface texture, color washes, and their placement in the garden. We like to juxtapose such columns and other sculpture against plants that in turn look sculptural or architectural to give the viewer a sense that everything grew up out of the same soil - or the same idea."*

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Obviously, gardening is seen as an art here, and the art is an organic part of this garden.
I want to share one of George and David's tips about art objects' placement in a garden: "Put the sculpture or artwork off center, obscured by a plant, or hidden in a less-traveled part of the garden, where it will create a revelation about you and your garden."*

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Do you see the tall trunk in the right part of the picture above? It is a Tetrapanax papyriferus 'Steroidal Giant'. It grows tall, has beautiful leaves and gives a tropical look to a garden. Isn't it a great plant? I have it on my 'Want' list. But be alert: it spreads extensively by sprouts from an underground root system!
The owners of this garden love tropicals and other large-leaf plants. Their garden is proof that the tall architectural, big-leaf plants make a small space visually larger and more substantial.
Their list of architectural- and sculptural-looking plants includes umbrella plant (darmera peltata), giant timber bamboo (phyllostachys bambusoides), bananas (Musa basjoo), cannas, calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), palms (Trachycarpus wagnerianus), etc.
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Dicksonia antarctica (Soft Tree Fern, Man Fern or Tasmanian Tree Fern. Evergreen tree fern native to parts of Australia).
George told us about this Tasmanian fern with such love that we could tell he was happy and proud to be the owner of this specimen. It was shipped from Tasmania (where else from?!) and it could be the biggest one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
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The turtle is holding a planter with Tradescantia zebrina(Wandering Jew, Inch Plant).
Not only the house plants, but also those which are traditionally used in beds and borders, such as Crocosmia, Japanese forest grass, etc., can be seen in the pots. It makes them more noticeable, prominent, dramatic and, if you wish, it makes them stars in the garden.
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Hosta leaf sculptures, as almost all the other planters and art objects, are elevated which makes them more visible and interesting. I put this tip on my own garden list. Lift your plants! Exhibit them! Show them off!
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Hosta Abiqua Drinking Gourd.
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To see this dripping fountain, you need to go under a big tree, where you feel like you are in a separate little garden room. There, I felt myself like a child in a secret place. As I realized later, while reading the book, it's one of the garden creators' intentions - to take visitors back to their childhood world full of mysteries, surprises and expectations of wonder.
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Even before reading the Little and Lewis' book, I knew there was something special about the blue color adorning many art pieces. As I learned from their book, the old weathered buildings in Mexico and the flowers of Brunnera 'Jack Frost' were on their minds while they were creating this signature color for their art. They believe that it goes well with any plant.
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Ferns and hydrangeas, as 'Ayesha', are among the favorite plants here.
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I loved this water feature. Simple and beautiful! The floating bloom is from the rose bush growing behind the house.
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I started to read 'A Garden Gallery: Inspiration from an Enchanted World of Plants and Artistry' the same day I bought it. I love, love, love that book! I read it over and over and often, after going through a chapter, I walk through my own garden and make little changes inspired by it.
There are words in the book which are so close to how I feel about gardening! For example: "There is something very satisfying about not following a plan." How do you feel about that?
The book is not only inspiring, but also practical. George and David generously share their tips about:
-making a single-drop fountain
- creating a jardiniƩre fountain
-using water features
- importance of portable arrangements
- tropicals looking great in pots (these are some names: Elephant's Ear, Glory Bush, Century Plant, Red bananas, Flowering Maple, Passion Flower, Angel's Trumpet)
- balancing a pond's ecosystem without the use of mechanical filters! David and George believe that "the right combination of plants, animals, and water movement can keep the pond healthy and algae-free."
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The photographs in the book, taken by Barbara Denk, are wonderful and perfectly reflect the spirit of David and George's garden gallery.
A hardcover edition of the book, published in 2005, has the title 'A Garden Gallery: The Plants, Art and Hardscape of Little and Lewis'. This best-selling book was awarded the Silver Medal for Best Garden Book of 2006 from the Garden Writer's Association.
This is the information about the owners of this magical garden gallery taken from the book:
"George Little and David Lewis are both interested in classical art but pursued their early fascinations in different ways: George has been a watercolorist and sculptor for more than thirty years and was an instructor at the Seattle Art Institute before co-founding Little and Lewis, Inc., in 1992. David combined his studies in a career as an archaeological illustrator. He was based in Corinth, Greece, for several years before moving to the Pacific Northwest".
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To work on this post was a pleasure. Looking at the pictures, recalling meeting two talented, generous people and realizing that I am going to share my experience with you, my gardening and blogging friends, was a happy time. I hope you enjoyed it!
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The garden gallery of Little and Lewis is located in USDA zone 8 (as they say, the cool edge of it).
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Coopyright 2010 TatyanaS

26 comments:

  1. What a great garden visit and tour ! I would love to get that book too, thanks so much , Gina

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  2. what a wonderland tour of such an artistic garden. Your images certainly do it justice and I like the way you include their gardening tips. Bet you found it hard to leave here. The book will be on my wishlist now - thank you

    Laura x

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  3. You gave a great tour!! What a fun place.

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  4. Tatyana, I have loved George and Davids art and garden for ever. When that book came out I was on the waiting list to get it. I did not realize that they had moved from their very lovely garden, Thanks for showing me their new one.

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  5. Great tour. Very thorough. I must point out an excellent point you made. Scale, as in don't be afraid to put in big plants! It is ok for a plant to be higher then two feet.

    I also love the gardens that don't look like a builder came in to a new development and laid miles of pavers with matching walkways, walls, lighting fixtures. That's probably the "organic" point you were making.

    As far as a plan...right. I don't think I need to mention we don't have one of those.

    I'm definitely buying this book.

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  6. Thanks for sharing such a lovely garden with me. Carla

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  7. Thanks so much for showing your readers Little and Lewis' new garden! And for sharing the insights that you took way from your visit and your reading of their book. I didn't know that they had opened a new garden for visit by appointment! You don't say where it is!

    I do have a plan for my new, current garden, but mainly because I had no plan for the previous one, and it was completely unmanageable. So now I have a plan, but I am not afraid to deviate from it when inspiration hits (or when I see a plant at the nursery that I simply must have).

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  8. Oh oh oh oh, Tatyana! I have that book, had it for years and can't believe how lucky you are to have visited, even if it is a new place! These two men are so full of creativity, so much to learn from what they had made and continue to make. You are so dang lucky! What did you buy, is the burning question? :-)
    Frances

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  9. I really enjoyed the tour and got a few great ideas I'd like to try in my own garden.

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  10. Thank you for visiting this incredible garden with me and taking time to leave a comment! Answering the questions: Alison, the place is on the Bainbridge Island, WA. Frances, I bought the book! Of course, I laid my eyes on something else! I'm waiting for Santa to bring me gift certificates or, even better, just some green.

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  11. Thanks for the beautiful garden tour!

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  12. aloha,

    i love seeing art inspired gardens...all the water features are amazing and are predominant in their gardens, the moss and greenery really add to the effects, i especially love that minature fake tree in the driveway made with moss, it did make me smile :)

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  13. Oh how wonderful Tatyana.I would love it there. Oh I would so love to have that big cast leave. How gorgeous is it. They have some marvelous creations. I thought the little fake tree was real until I saw the base of it. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

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  14. Wonderful to see this incredible garden through your eyes. Your being unfamiliar with L&L made it even more exciting, and I loved what you chose to highlight.

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  15. I enjoyed the tour! What a beautiful, interesting, inspiring garden! That makes me want to go outside and see what changes I could make..:) Thanks for the beautiful photos and tour!

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  16. OMGosh, you have done it again. I'm happy for your visit to this wonderful, wonderland and garden and art. Your pictures just make this garden pop.
    I will get this book because this is just what I love art in the garden and more. I don't have shade but I some how can work around that if I had this book. Thank You for just a bit of heaven...

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  17. Really wonderful. How great to see a garden with a sense of humour.

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  18. I can't help but smile reading this post - your enthusiasm and joy at experiencing this garden first hand reminds me of when I had the pleasure of visiting Freeland and Sabrina Tanner's garden in Napa earlier this year. Truly soul enriching! I loved the Gunnera sculpture - that is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long, long time! Beautiful post - thanks for sharing your garden tour with us!

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  19. What a experience of a lifetime! Amazing, and they let you take photos also.

    A beautiful enchanted garden, that I hope one day to visit.

    Now I am off to go and get the book from the library.

    Jen

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  20. What a great tour! I've loved Little and Lewis for years and loved that book too. It's great to see their new garden.

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  21. It's a beautiful garden and it sounds as though your visit was one of those magical experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing it. -Jean

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  22. So glad you shared this visit--I have longed to see L&L's gardens for years and was disappointed when I heard they had moved. But how could they not create just as special a garden in their new digs ?

    Kathy in Napa

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  23. Wow! What an amazing garden. I love all the artwork tucked in with the plants!

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  24. Hi Tatyana, I'm sorry I've been away so long. Your blog is always such a fun read.

    As a garden writer myself I was able to procure a press copy of Little and Lewis' book when it was released. I then wrote a review. So much inspiration and eye candy photos.

    Their new garden looks equally enchanting as their old digs. I love the large leafed plantings. My 'Steroidal Giant' hasn't escaped its bounds yet. I'm kind of looking forward to its mania, although I may regret having said that.

    I tried growing the a tree fern but last winter's mean weather did it in. If only I could get one to look as good as L&L's. The fairytale tree fountain is very, very cool. Love the background conifers too. That podophyllum is to kill for. [Almost.]

    Thanks for the tour Tatyana. You must have had a wonderful day.

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  25. Thank you for the lovely tour, Tatyana! I absolutely love their garden. Their use of art is just sublime. The soft organic colors of the artwork sets off the plants so beautifully.

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  26. What a beautiful and artistic garden. Thanks for the tour.

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Thank you for stopping by and for your comment! I appreciate your time! See you soon on your blog!

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