Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Opening your garden...

I’ve agreed to open my garden to the 80+ bloggers who will be in Portland next week for the Garden Bloggers Fling. I’ve always avoided opening my garden to groups, it’s just not how I want to experience a very personal space. However these aren’t strangers, most of them are friends who I would happily invite into my private space, it just so happens they’re showing up en masse.

Since agreeing to open I’ve been thinking a lot about how gardeners prepare for an “open garden”…of course most of them are focusing only on the garden. Whereas with my open I’m also part of a small group planning for the tour stops and needs of 80+ people over three and a quarter days. All of this was on my mind when I read this article in our local paper. I loved reading about how this couple was preparing for their open garden and naturally I had to check it in person.

Walking through this garden I came to realize I have a lesser need for embellishment than others do. This is not a judgmental statement, many of my favorite people adore ornamentation, the more the merrier. But I have a different response, it keys me up and makes me uneasy. Less is more for me in that regard. Of course my style of gardening (affectionately referred to as "crammit") probably puts many more people on edge. They look at the plants, imagine their mature size, and start to twitch with the need to grab the shovel and do a little "pruning." Ah well, to each their own.

This combination was breath-taking!

Ditto here.

The homeowners obviously put a lot of time and thought into this pathway. I enjoyed it immensely, in their garden.

I do have a soft spot for a pair of mossy lions.

Am I the only one who sees an owl above a compass?

My Callistemon viridiflorus stopped blooming a week ago. How did they manage to get theirs to hold onto a few blooms for the open garden? I want to be able to freeze frame on my plants looking good right now!

Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis' (the powdery silver leafed plant), I can't wait for my gifted little seedlings to grow like this.

I have no doubt this makes the gardeners (homeowners) very happy. I just don't get it, it's that need for ornamentation thing. I'm obviously missing a few genes. I see space where there could be plants!

Thankfully all I had to do was turn to my right and there were several beautiful Eryngium giganteum...

I wanted to ask but the owners were deep in conversation with other visitors. Do you think that round is a new paver waiting to be dug into place? Are all the pavers that thick? Wow. That's a lot of work!

This is my favorite idea to steal from this garden. Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' and Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' massed together, love it!

The garden was perched atop a very steep slope. They've done a great job of laying it out in such a way that it's all very livable.

I eavesdropped on a conversation about moving this bad-daddy into place. Made me nervous just listening.

Next to the deck off the back of the house was a gorgeous tetrapanax and stacked stone wall.

The short runs on that fence should tell you just how steep the property is.

The gate is ajar to the side yard. I didn't actually exit this way but retraced my steps back the way I came.

Below is the view on the other side of the fence. Because of my particular mindset I'm sure I looked at the garden with an inspectors eye uncommon to other visitors. I want to thank the homeowners for leaving a few minor imperfections in place. They kept it real but yet managed to also look polished, it's a delicate balance and I came away with a renewed appreciation for making it work. So have you ever opened your garden?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

60 comments:

  1. What a fab garden! You know me, I love ornamentation, so I adore that arbor/pergola. The pavers are gorgeous too, and I do see the owl. The one just beyond looks like a face too, a chipmunk/raccoon/bear? Although many of your containers are minimalist in design, I think they do count as ornamentation. I hope the Fling goes off without a single hitch, and I know everyone will adore your garden. I'm still bummed that I'm going to miss it.

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    1. I suppose you have a point about my containers being ornamentation, especially in that they're so colorful (someone could definitely feel they are "too much" when simple terracotta would do). Originally I went with the word "embellishment" instead of ornamentation which I felt described the extra flourish better, but also sounded like I was being negative when I didn't mean to be.

      Alison we are going to miss you on the Fling!

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  2. Everything about that garden is incredible--the plants, the stonework, the gates, the play of light. Wow! They are obviously artists with natural elements, and I would feel very comfortable there. My garden is a little simpler--mainly because of financial limitations. But I appreciate tastefully created ornamental gardens like this one. Good luck with the Fling! Wish I could join you!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post PP, and we wish you could be here too!

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  3. Wish I could be there, I would love to see your gardens in person!

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    1. If you do ever make it out this way let me know John, I'd love to meet you.

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  4. Nope, I've never opened my garden. I don't think I ever could. There's just too much clutter I don't want people to see.

    I like SOME ornamentation, but the garden in today's post is way over the top for me. But it's all so subjective, and ultimately the only people that have to be happy are the homeowners. It doesn't matter what outsiders think.

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    1. Subjective indeed and you're right, the only thing that matters is that the gardener is happy. If that means planted up tires and toilets then so be it...

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    2. I just had a discussion with someone about planted toilets. NOT FOR ME!

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    3. Nor me, but you probably guessed that! Sometimes I get frustrated at how people in my 'hood care for their property but at least there are no planted toilets to be seen.

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  5. This is a beautiful garden - I'd love to be able to walk through the back door and enjoy it every day. But I bet they have some help with maintenance or don't have to balance it with the demands of full time jobs. On the more important theme here, I personally want to stress that we ARE your friends and we already love your garden. We feel honored and deeply grateful that any of you would put yourselves through that extra level of personal stress when you're already overwhelmed by the other responsibilities of hosting the Fling. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    1. Well I do know that one half of the couple is a landscape designer and the other works at our local newspaper, they also (together) write a column for the paper. And Vicki yes, you all are my friends and that's why I'm excited about having you here!!! Soon!

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  6. I hope your preparations go smoothly - my sense is you're going to agonize over every detail but I hope you'll enjoy the experience anyway. The largest "tour group" through my garden consisted of the members of my book club so I haven't dealt with anything on the order of the Fling. Although I seem to have accumulated a fair share of decorative junk in my garden, in theory at least I fall in the "less is more" category. In the case of the tour you previewed here, I liked the rusty metal hanging objects and the pebbled path (and, yes, I immediately saw an owl).

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    1. Agonize is a strong word, no definitely not that. Life's too short and I want to have fun too. I just see so many different levels of perfection (or not) when people open their gardens that I find it challenging to decide where to aim.

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  7. Your orange pergola counts as ornamentation ;) what a fabulous garden that is you've just visited, and their ornamentation fits in nicely with their planting and surroundings.

    We've never opened our garden to large groups before, and never had any open days either. It's a question that's always asked to us and pops into our heads quite regularly. Happy to show it to interested individuals and small groups by appointment.

    Hopefully you haven't been too busy preparing for your open day, and not stressed out either. Easier said than done of course. Looking forward to seeing Danger Garden in the flesh!

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    1. I think the orange pergola counts as hardscape.


      (not really, but just trying to calm Loree's nerves a little!)

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    2. Thanks guys, hardscape Alan?

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  8. That is a lovely garden and the designed pathway definitely works very well for it. Yes, I see an owl and a compass as well.

    I'm very much, less is more when it comes to ornamentation in my garden. I love it in other people's gardens, just not so much my own. I prefer to let the plants be the ornamentation instead. So other than the windchimes and a few birdbaths, the only other decrative things are the rocks I've collected over the years and the plants.}:P

    Of course, my garden is nowhere near as expansive as yours or the one you visited here, but it works for me and since it's mostly the front yard, is always 'open'. Heh.

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    1. For some reason your comments always get caught up in the spam filter, I don't know why.

      All that matters really is that "our" gardens work for us, and I'm in total agreement about letting the plants be the ornamentation, they're so good at it!

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    2. You know, I'd wondered about that.}:P I guess the spam filter just likes me for whatever reason. Ah well.}:)

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  9. Thanks for the tour of that garden: I had often wondered what it would be like and was sorry I was already busy that day.
    I opened my garden just once, last year, for a very small, low-key, sustainable gardening tour of my neighborhood. The great part? People are wonderful and interested, and it was a fabulous experience (even the Mulch Man had fun, so that tells you!) I hope you'll have fun, too.

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    1. Good to hear that the Mulch Man enjoyed the experience, gives me hope for Andrew!

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  10. sandy lawrenceJuly 01, 2014

    My kind of garden. I adore rock mosaics and natural, gnarled wood. So serene. The line of that low, stacked riverstone wall is pure perfection. Truly, some of the loveliest hardscape of natural materials that I've ever seen, which flows with and compliments both the plant combinations and the patterns of light and shadow. Thanks for a yummy and delightful tour. Very nice photos.

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  11. What a lovely space with lots of little nooks, I love the mossy lions too! The path is very so fun. I am not so much on garden art but people seem to like to gift it to me, or my husband finds cool metal things in clean ups he does and they end up here among the plants. I have opened my garden a few times to smaller local tours (20) and it gets many individual tours because we have our office here and we see our potential clients here and they usually want a tour. Thankfully my husband likes giving the tours : ) For me my garden is part southern over grown with lovely old plants and part test garden.
    I am so looking forward to seeing your garden at the Fling...especially since you have spurred on my love of unusual plants. The news one that was on the growers list was a Dyckia platyphylla, very spiny and totally cool!

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    1. Oh yes, that's a fabulous dyckia, are you buying one for yourself? I look forward to meeting you Laurin, and I am so glad everyone is going to have name tags because I am horrible HORRIBLE at remembering names (that's me apologizing in advance if I screw up yours).

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  12. Your garden is sure to be a hit. Having it open for bloggers will be fun.

    Pam is bringing bloggers from Austin for a tour of several gardens in the fall which will be fun and I'm counting on them to overlook the unfinished parts. I've been asked for the last two years to put my garden on a citywide watersaver landscape tour and I think I might do that in 2015.

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    1. Oh I look forward to the blog posts about your garden which are sure to follow that visit!

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  13. I see an owl above a turtle...

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  14. It's a lovely garden with so many unique and creative features. I absolutely love that path and yes, there is an owl above the compass. Not a huge fan of the pergola structure but that's just me. They really do have some wonderful combinations and specimens. Thanks for sharing.

    When I'm getting ready for a garden tour I have to have every space filled and every edge clean and sharp and all the plants looking pristine and lush. Of course that's an impossibility unless you have an army of gardeners. I'm happy not to be on any tours except for our Idyll get together end of June. Wish I was coming out for your Bloggers Fling! Just couldn't fit it in this year.

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    1. I wish you were to Deanne, someday we'll meet, and someday I want to see your garden!

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  15. Does being an avid follower of your blog and dreaming of seeing your garden some day count towards making me eligible for the open garden? :)

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    1. Well...not so much in this case since it's a private (and already very large) group but I'm always open to meeting new people and showing them around!

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  16. I like that garden and I quite like the ornamentation as goes well with the design of the garden. Is it quite a big garden? If mine was bigger then I would think about incorporating similarish type things, but it ain't going to happen in my current garden.

    I have never opened my garden to strangers, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of demand for it around here and I am quite sure that the average local would not appreciate my style either!

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    1. It is a big garden Adam, on an oddly shaped lot. Not appreciate your style? Well then they're crazy. Was everything looking good upon your return from vacation?

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    2. Everything looked great when I came back Loree, although I must admit that I arrived back home just after midnight and I was so desparate to see my garden I grabbed a torch and went outside to check that everything was okay!

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  17. Love the pebble mosaic paths and the attention to rock placement in pots. Equally inspiring are the great plant combinations! You know me, I love ornamentation and plants so the ornamentation (objets d'crap just get thrown into the middle of the crammit plantings. I like to think of it as a collage.

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    1. And you do collage very well Peter.

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  18. Loree, I was asked once to be on a tour, but there was a date conflict and I declined. Since then I have toured so many gardens that I would not open mine without doing some serious renovation--my garden is not tour worthy at this point; and I'm not being coy here-I'm in a very disheveled/transitional period. Yours will be a smash hit ! My Idyll peeps loved it...

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    1. "I'm in a very disheveled/transitional period"...I'm using that line for myself, and no I don't mean my garden!

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  19. Those lucky people that get to walk around your garden! It would be so strange, having seen so much of it over a fairly long period of time, to actually visit it and see it all firsthand. Jealous. I hope preparing isn't too stressful! I can only imagine how much work it would be (and your garden is already immaculate).

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    1. Oh Amy I wish you were coming to Portland for the Fling, I would love to meet you!

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  20. Your garden is going to be amazing and a hit! Mine, however...ugh...now that I actually have time, I'm thinking perhaps installing a laser light show to distract from all the gaps would be a good idea. Oh wait, a loop of kitten videos...that will distract people, right?

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    1. Kitten videos! Oh and you can get Patricia to being her new ones over to play too.

      Silly man! Remember I was just there on Sunday and your garden was looking fabulous. Did yesterday's heat boost things, or wear them down? I swear I could see the castor beans growing right before my eyes.

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    2. Scott, I laughed out loud over the mental image of a kitten video running on a loop during the tour. Hahaha! No one would look at it though because your garden is fabulous.

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  21. For the British …cake is the most important thing on any garden visit :)

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    1. Linda why aren't you joining us for the Fling!?

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    2. I know, I should have enrolled . I'm on a tight budget this summer…Port Townsend trip and I am spending a bit on giving my shed a revamp…which I haven't even started yet .
      I think your garden will be a great hit , cake or no :)

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  22. If you look close, above the owl is is a raccoon. That's a great garden. I like seeing the ones that are nothing like mine.

    There were 50 visitors here in April. Mainly it was about making sure the rat traps were put away somewhere. I've been looking for the traps ever since. I've been to gardens with the tables set for tea time and all that. That's going a little far, but not cleaning up after the dog is not far enough. Balance, balance.

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    1. 50! Wow, that's intense. There are no rat traps, so that's not an issue. Oh and Lila will not go in her own back yard so that's not either. There won't be tea, but there will be water, wine and beer, maybe even a cracker or two. We'll try for balance. I am SO excited that you'll be here!!!

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  23. Loree, I started writing my comments only to have lost it all when the browser crashed. Anyhow - (Apologies if this is silly long.)

    I was the guy in the hat that bumped into you in three gardens at the June 28th HPSO open garden day. I kept thinking I recognized you from somewhere, only then I remembered your blog! (I admit I was a little star struck!)

    You asked my partner and I if we knew "what plant is that?" I didn't hear you ask on account of my deafness, though my partner did and repeated to me. I looked at a few plants online and thought it could be a Lysimachia punctata or maybe not. It was the one in the neighbor’s front yard across from the Wynton Pajunas. I didn't take a picture so I might be wrong. We also did the ANLD tour as well, only missing two gardens out of the six. (Specifically the two in the SE.)

    :)

    We too thought about the idea of opening our garden. Touring the open gardens gave us food for thought in many ways. Indeed there are challenges, without a doubt, in welcoming other friendly gardeners to explore and contemplate. In hosting an open garden my thoughts lie in navigation: how to circulate about, to offer the viewer the opportunity to see as much as there is willed to see; however meandering, bumpy, or crowded a path is.

    It was a thrill to see how each garden was approached based on their lay of the land, and the solutions that were found to satisfy the space.

    Our little patch of green runs on the small side, and is somewhat awkward. A narrow path leads to the larger space of the backyard.

    To be honest, I am not too sure about numbers and measurements. This is the best I can describe the space at without sharing a photo. It's about 60 feet long from the gate to the edge of the back, 100ish feet long from side to side in the back, 35 feet from the back of the house to there. The narrow path I call the "allee" it has only about 4.5ish feet of room from the wall of the side of the house to the fence. In that narrow space where the gate leads to the garden it is a 20ish feet walk to where the back of the house meets the larger space. I imagine that it would be a cluster f* (to say the least) to open our space, it's barely comfortable for the two of us to pass through, bumping into each other along the way. It is beautiful regardless, I tell myself.

    The other issue is our garden's present state. Most gardens on the tour were so polished, tight and sporting a finished appearance, obviously tended to meticulously in the days leading up to the opening. Despite our garden that bumbles and tumbles with a not yet cohesive plan or look; would I open our garden with nursery trays and pots strewn around? A garden in the raw and nude? And subject to the gaggle of gwaping heehaws? Sure, why not? After all, all gardens start somewhere. It might not be for everyone to see or appropriate on a tour, but we do offer an understanding in the care for the plants that we have. They are thriving despite our haphazard placement, occasional neglect and the spots of pest and slugs. It is a garden in progress, surely something can be said for beginnings.

    My partner would most definitely disagree with me and protest. Then again I am deaf and don't mind sassy comments and prying eyes. After all I can dish out the sass myself with no hesitation, although I am always willing to be understanding more than anything else. I recognize that there are steps to take, plans to make, and challenges to overcome. I am a patient gardener, and I expect that most of us are too.

    Loree your garden is beautiful, and it does scare me: it is dangerous. I love it. I have no doubt your garden will be a hit with the tour.

    All the best, I wish you success and joy.

    PS: I was reviewing my photos last night and saw you giving me the stink eye! I didn’t expect that I would catch you in a photo! :)

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  24. The stink eye? NO! You both seemed very knowledgeable and approachable from the start, that's why I asked you. I liked you both instantly and noticed a smile from you which seemed to be one of recognition. I tried to think if I'd met you before but didn't think I had. And let's face it, there is no way to say "Do you know me?" or "I'm danger garden" or ANYTHING like that without sounding like an idiot, so I said nothing. I enjoyed bumping into you guys at several gardens, we seemed like kindred spirits in what we were drawn to. I would love to see your garden and you're welcome here anytime. Oh and your calling the gardens on the tour "polished" is the perfect word, they were so so so that. Mine, not so much.

    I think you're right in your plant ID, thank you! I've got a Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla and looking at the flowers thought it might be a Lysimachia.

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    1. p.s. I loved your super long comment and email me anytime to plan a garden visit at spiky plants at gmail dot com (you know, with all the proper adjustments).

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    2. We will definitely have to check each other's gardens out!

      I am such a doodle head, I realized this morning at 8:00am that; NO my garden isn't 100 feet side to side. Ugh where did I come up with that number? -_-

      It should be much smaller than that. Our string lights come in at exactly 100 feet, and it runs all along the border of the garden. 100 feet side to side, I should smack myself. See, I know nothing when it comes to numbers: I am math challenged for sure. Which is why I defer the fertilizers to my partner (and anything numbers/math related). 17-8-22, what, isn't that for bromeliads? I know nothing. I'll pretend I know something. I might know something. I'll have the foot-in-mouth disease please, thank you.

      It should be closer to 40 feet or a little less. It is small. We live in Wilkes East, the very edge of Portland’s reach, in one of those newfangled homes (built 2006). It is messy, and it attracts some very interesting and apparently loud wildlife, or so the boy says – along with the grumbling cat. I may have had helped with that.

      You'll have to come see some time what we're doing at where we are in its pace, and visit again when it's as "polished" as we can get it. There's lots to do here; there’s this and that and we’ll move this, move that. You know how it goes. A long list of projects are to be done.

      In my partner's famous, favorite words: "It's the never-ending story."

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  25. I will go read the article in a moment, and I enjoyed your tour of this garden, including the ornamentation -- especially the paths and even the arbor although I'd prefer the arbor be useful for seating rather than purely ornamental. I do think you have ornamentation in your garden in the form of pots (placed around the patio and hanging here and there) and the orange shade pavilion. But I know what you mean: no garden faces or animals or wind chimes or gazing balls, etc. I have a fondness for garden ornament myself, but I love your plant-centric garden just as it is. And so will your visitors.

    I have never opened my garden to the public (never been asked either), but I did open it, as you're doing, to the first Garden Bloggers Flingers in Austin in 2008. This was my former garden, not my current. I really didn't stress too much (and hope you're not either), and in fact, hosting was one of my favorite activities of the Fling. I had a moment of happiness when everyone was here, and I was walking through my house and garden, back to front, and saw a group sitting on the back patio, drinking Mexican martinis, another group on the back porch talking about technical issues with blogging, another group in the house talking about the social aspect of blogging, and yet another group in the front garden talking plants. Every area of the garden -- and house -- was being enjoyed, and it was all very casual and friendly. I hope you have a similar experience next week!

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    1. I love the scene you describe Pam and I would love to experience something similar. I recall we were all so tired at Rebecca Sweet's garden last year we just plopped down and relaxed, that was nice. I do think 40+ people here at once will limit that, my garden is so small!

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  26. One of the things HPSO does to encourage members to open their gardens is to insist that viewers are interested in all sorts of gardens in all stages of development, warts and all. The one year that I participated, I found myself noticing the warts more than usual, but the people who came were absolutely wonderful and I learned a lot from them. Forty people at a shot is a pretty big debut, but I predict you will enjoy every minute of it.

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