Destinations Magazine

Hosting Danger Garden

By Alternativeeden @markngaz
Hosting Danger Garden Any of our readers who also follow Loree's excellent blog, Danger Garden may have done a double take last week when instead of photos from gardens and places in and around Portland, Oregon there were photos from our garden!
Loree had come to visit the UK with her husband and as well as visiting great public gardens such as Kew or the Chelsea Physic Garden (despite being easy for us to visit we still haven't been to the second), Loree dropped us an email and asked to visit, or in her words "A (hopefully polite) inquiry from me and the next thing I knew they were offering to take a day off work to accommodate my vacation schedule. Yes, just to have a crazy American visit their garden."
We spent ages chatting in our garden, and of course in the time honoured British fashion over tea and cake, before heading into the nearby country side for a pub lunch and then a trip round a local village as well as to a typical local garden centre. Now back home in Portland, Loree has posted two blogs about her visit to our garden.
It was strange to see Loree's photos of our garden, seeing it through another bloggers eyes, with different angles or compositions to the photos. I think sometimes I take photos of our garden to record how it changes, sometimes to illustrate a particular plant or project, but I don't often take photos to illustrate the garden as a whole. Seeing a visitors photos of the garden, taken with a different objective gave us a real insight into our own garden. I hadn't anticipated this. Ahead of the visit being published on Danger Garden I was eagerly awaiting the articles to see what was featured, what had caught our "crazy American" visitor's attention. I hadn't really expected to learn things about our own garden.

There were many photos Loree took, I understand there were a couple of hundred or so from which she selected a smaller number to publish. Do check the links at the end to see her posts, but I wanted to highlight just a small number.

The photo that jumped out the most for me when I saw it was this one:

Hosting Danger Garden

It is not a vista in the garden I take many photos of, and those I have taken do not capture the spirit of the garden as well as this. I have spent quite a lot of time looking at this photo, seeing the plant combinations and composition with a new slightly different emphasis. Obviously I have walked down this pathway and sat on that bench many many times, but normally I notice jobs that need doing, or the shed beyond the bench. In this photo you cant even tell there is the large Jungle Hut just 3 feet behind the blue bench.

I would normally notice that I need to sweep the leaves or cut something back, maybe a weed has come up or ivy from the neighbours garden is taking a hold on the fence. Perhaps like many gardeners I look through my own garden with a far too critical eye, perhaps sometimes I need to learn to try and see it as a visitor would view the garden. Looking for that perfect composition or angle. 

We shared this photo on our Facebook page and were impressed by how many "likes" and "shares" it got. It seems it wasn't just Mark and I that loved this photo but other people too.

This photo also made me pause for thought:

Hosting Danger Garden

This spot looks to be deep in the middle of a jungle, yet just a few inches to the left hand side is a brick wall, and just beyond the dark green bamboo in the background is the neighbour's fence. Sometimes I don't always look at the plants in the garden individually,  this Trachycarpus, for example, has got big almost without me noticing it do so. It was planted as a very small plant from B&Q, if I recall correctly it was about £12 or so back in 2005, so it was quite a baby plant really with hardly any trunk. It was planted with a lot of compost into an area that was once a small pond (liner rather than natural) created by one of the former owners of our house. When we cleared the area and removed the badly damaged liner we filled it in with a lot of compost mixed in with top soil. It had a good start! This area hasn't had many changes made to it since 2005, most of the ferns have been there since then, and only a few additions over the years. Yet now 7 years later the palm is really starting to take off and the local urban environment is completely hidden. 

We built the jungle hut veranda in 2009, before we started this blog although captured it in photos at the time. See here for the photos. I loved using natural bamboo in the balustrading and must have taken dozens of photos that illustrate it, however I don't think I took any like this one, a simple photo but also a lovely composition picking up the natural splits in the bamboo poles with the plants firmly on the other side.

Hosting Danger Garden

Don't forget to look up! At the far end of the garden near the existing small koi pond we built a pergola, over the last few years a grape vine has covered it (although somehow we managed to select a wine grape so not a very good taste to eat). Again it has featured in dozens of photos over the years but I love the way Loree captured the green enclosed feeling of the space.

Hosting Danger Garden
As I said earlier it is great to see the garden through someone else's eyes, to see what they pick out and feature. We visit many gardens each year and always look to take interesting photos of vistas, or features that capture our imagination. In our own garden perhaps we become comfortable with it, we know what is there so maybe don't always look at it the way someone does who is less familiar.

One photo not taken by Loree was over lunch in a local country pub:

Hosting Danger Garden

Cheers! We  didn't manage to get a photo of the three of us, Mark is behind the Camera

We had a wonderful time hosting Loree, despite it being the first time we had met it seemed like we had known each other for a long time, hopefully one day we will get the opportunity to visit Portland!
To see more of Loree's photos of our garden check out the following links:
Danger Garden's visit to Alternative Eden Part 1
Danger Garden's visit to Alternative Eden Part 2

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