No garden has ever thrilled me more than the O’Byrne garden.
The careful plant selection of textures and foliage combinations become tapestries, at first glance haphazard but intricately composed. It is a joyful place full of whimsy and surprise, yet sophisticated in a way that makes any gardener want to study and drink it in.
No gardener can be jealous or even humbled by these combinations, only exhilarated and astounded. Not for a moment is one tempted to compare one’s own gardening talent because if you do the owners, Ernie and Marietta, will disarm you with the unsaid understanding among all gardeners that we all just love plants, and are equal in the service to them.
And their artistry is beyond imitation. They are well known plant people in the Pacific Northwest and their nursery, Northwest Garden Nursery outside Eugene Oregon is the home of the Winter Jewels® hellebores which they hybridize and tuck all throughout the garden. But this time of year the hellebores are mostly dormant and the rest of the garden has engulfed and exploded around them.
I visited to see their Chaparral, dry garden for inspiration to include in my new book, The Summer-Dry Garden coming out in a year or so from Timber Press. Their own Timber Press book, A Tapestry Garden, is just out this year and is an inspiration to anyone who loves unique plant combinations and gardens built for foliage and texture.
I can never be sure what photos will finally be included in any book, but I am sure to submit this Yucca rostrata making a bold statement in a Northwest garden far away from the typical expectation for Yucca. Combined with Salvia, Asclepias (in seed), and Muhlenbergia in a garden getting almost no summer water, this is exactly the ideas and inspiration I want to share.
But my eyes can not stop wandering into other parts of the garden where plant partnerships become tapestries, where plant jigsaw puzzle compositions become photos through careful framing. Fill the Frame is my most common workshop lesson and oh, to run a workshop here….
Did the O’Byrnes know that Berberis jamesiana had red jewel beaded necklaces of berries when they planted this? Oh my…
Surely they anticipated the Quaking Aspen trees would become an astounding row of white pillars lining their driveway.
A planting not for the faint of heart or anyone of a low maintenance garden persuasion. They make no attempt to hide this garden needs lots of attention.
My favorite photos come from studying their combinations, letting the camera enclose a tapestry, telling different stories with every small step creating a new jigsaw juxtaposition of carefully chosen jewels. A long lens, which will stack shapes, compresses plant textures into two dimensional tapestries.
Here, the vertical greens of ‘Graham Blandy’ boxwood anchor this shrub border.
Now, moving a few inches to the right I can create a tapestry dominated by Picea abies ‘Pendula’ – Weeping Norway Spruce.
Backing off I can put the grass, Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’ seen faintly above, in the foreground.
Then back in the studio I can really have fun.
Gallery link to more photos in the PhotoBotanic Archive.