Monday, August 2, 2010

A hard act to follow….

Don’t you pity the poor sap that has to perform after the prodigy or crowd favorite?  I can just imagine the horror welling up inside such a person as the perfect act goes on and on, getting better and better.  No, I take it back, I don’t have to imagine it.  I have now lived it.  Last Thursday, I toured a delightful private oasis on the Anchorage hillside and realized, to my dismay, that I had to follow this act.
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This lovely spread was part of the Alaska Botanical Garden’s Secret Garden Series, an annual fundraiser that visits some of the best tended, designed, and beloved gardens in the Anchorage area.  (The Last Frontier Gardener is blowing her own horn yet again.  My garden is beloved, anyway.)  So after taking a virtual stroll with me through some of the vignettes at this ponderosa, see if you don’t feel just a bit sorry for me…onward!
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My first groan of affliction was at the sight of this arbor on the front of the house.  The wood is as smooth as a baby’s bottom, I checked.  My arbor (in the backyard, thankfully, so somewhat hidden) is a claptrap affair: fading stain, splinters, and treated wood posts.  For those that do not dwell in our fair state, arbors of this quality are almost never seen.  To be truthful, arbors of any quality are pretty unusual.  After recovering movement in my limbs, I headed to the side yard where…
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I was treated to the sight of the best looking workshop in the whole state.  (I know it’s the workshop and not another residence because over the door, a sign reads “workshop.”)  I showed this picture to the LFG husband, and he started to tear up and had to reach for the tissues.  If we had such a large and lovely place to weld, paint, hammer, tinker with engines, etc., I might never see him again.
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The gardener in the family had a more humble working space, but charming none the less.  A small shed with an attached greenhouse painted a lovely, cheering shade of red, gladdened up a space usually consigned to utilitarian duties only.
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Not only were there outbuildings in abundance, fun and quirky artwork was in evidence throughout as well.  Using my finely honed detective skills, I determined that this gardener seemed to have a penchant for ducks, frogs, and rabbits.
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Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
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My Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ are almost finished flowering, with maybe a dozen blossoms between seven plants.  It just isn’t fair how many flowers are left on this one Geranium plant!
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Even the vegetable garden had an outbuilding.  What do you think: teahouse, outhouse, playhouse, or …?
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The owner’s have a real passion for rock gardens, and I was pleased to discover that the rockery (is that a word?) was not ignored in the found object category. 
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Surely by now, at least the vestiges of pity are welling inside you for me.  Any gardener that can include bright yellow dump trucks on tour day with confidence gets a gold star from me.  And the local children.
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The fire pit was blazing, adding to the ambience as well as smoking the bugs away.  Very clever.
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A couple of plant shots.  I only took a few pictures of just plants.  Most were of ensembles like the one below.
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That’s a whalebone, folks.  If my animal anatomy class serves me well (and it rarely does), it looks like a vertebrae from the whale’s back.  Ouch.
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I insert this picture because it is the exact shade of blue my toenails are painted.  You see how desperate I am?  You are indeed hard-hearted if you can’t feel bad for poor little me yet.
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I should have a dozen of these clever signs around my garden.  “Pending” is so much more hopeful than '”weeds,” which is what my unfinished areas constitute.
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A lighthouse?  Or just lighting?
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Wow, someone in Alaska is growing this grass other than me.  That is if it’s Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum 'Variegatum’.  The taxonomist who cobbled that string of epithets together should be horsewhipped with a wet noodle.  What gardener is ever going to say it all?  I just call it Arrhenatherum and have done with it.
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Well, by now you know the tour was a ball to take but a wrecking ball to my psyche.  With only a few days until the tour, I am too busy being frantic to feel much self pity.  I look at it this way, by Friday it will be all over.
Any tips for the tour?  Ways to drown my sorrow sans alcohol?


  1. I have a green fountain just ike the one in the picture with the duck. It is only a shame it doesn't transform my yard in the same way! Ah well. Good luck with the tour I am sure you will shine! :)

  2. What a beautiful tour Christine. I would take any of the buildings even the outhouse or whatever LOL! I love the lighthouse light also. That is the type of garden that makes one feel like their beautiful garden needs some work yet.Just when I think mine is looking better I spot something like this.LOL! I would of had to have succulents growing in the bed of those little trucks though just for whimsy. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Well, this garden is certainly impressive! But don't despair at all, yours is spectacular too. I find gardens like this somewhat overwhelming/depressing since I have no hope space wise of $ wise to recreate anything of the sort, so I have to be happy with a much more modest space. I may steal the 'pending' idea, it is better than 'weeds'. There, does that help? I can't wait to see the pics from your tour!

  4. Thanks for this fabulous tour! Beautiful garden structures, sculptures, whimsy, fauna and flora ... gasp, I take pity (now on me as well, but I don't have to host a tour). Although I am looking very forward to perhaps seeing a tour of your garden?! I'm going to add make "pending" signs to my list of projects. I really envy the whale vertebrae - that is just way cool.

  5. Great photos! I love gardens like these - ones with soul. I saw too many gardens this year with lots of healthy plants but no artistic, individual touches. Photos like yours are the ones that inspire me!

  6. I'm always green with envy around people who can artistically place a tea stained, chipped cup on a rotting bench! You'll do just fine. In fact, why don't you haul your laptop out and smugly display your blog. It's tops!!!


  7. @Garden Groans
    Ooh, thanks for the blog compliment! If I wasn't positive it would rain or the kids would spill the tour beverage all over the laptop, I'm might just try it.

    Thanks for the comments and great suggestions everyone.


  8. Christine, Your garden will shine - but show us a post like this one showing your garden. From your sidebar pictures your garden looks like a secret garden jem. Please don't keep it secret from your fans! Us your followers. Hey, what did you decide to serve? :)

  9. At tour time run screaming into the house, slam the door and take two valium. Ha... can you tell that I am a woman from the sixties. tee hee.. Really you have nothing to be ashamed of. Hold your head high and don't mention the weeds. Everyone will be busy looking at all your beautiful plants. If they see a weed it will only mean you are human. You are human aren't you?? ;)

  10. A garden full of cheer and fun! Thanks for the pictures Christine! I bet your garden would look very impressive for the visitors too! We see our gardens every day and get used to them, but other people can see and appreciate what we take for granted.

  11. Thanks for the garden tour of this unique garden. I liked all the little garden vignettes with unexpected pieces. I enjoy creative people and like to see how they instill a sense of fun in the garden. Your tour commentary and descriptions were fun and interesting too.

  12. I love this gardener's whimsy... usually I'm not big on tchotchkes in the garden, but this one was creative and kind of understated. It helps to have a great garden and outbuildings around. Your own garden will shine and we want to see a photo tour of it!

  13. I would take your fish over a little yellow plastic duckie EVERY TIME ;-)

  14. You are very brave to host a tour, but I agree with everyone else that judging from what we can see from your blog it will be wonderful. Enjoyed this one - and really like the "pending" sign - but I really enjoy a tour that inspires me because of the ideas I might be able to use. That big workshop and that cute garden shed aren't in the realm of possibility for me. But the dump trucks, the pending sign - yes!

  15. A most delightful tour, Christine! I agree with Tatyana and her well chosen words, so true.

  16. That was a fun tour. Especially liked the pending sign. Very clever. Thanks.

  17. What a fabulous garden tour. I enjoyed every photo. That little shed next to the veg garden has got to be an outhouse. I'm going to make a fireplace like theirs for my garden. Christine your place has its own charms and it will shine just you see :)

  18. That is the most beautiful fire pit I have ever seen. Wow. I must make one of those someday when I have space outside of the city limits.

  19. Great tour. We always look in the mirror and judge ourselves harshly. I often return from seeing other gardens and think less of my own, so I can identify with what you are feeling.

  20. So I guess outhouse is a euphemism for ------ ! Just wondered why the workshop has an upstairs too? Lovely garden though and I love the colour of the wood but it will take a lot of work to keep it like that.

  21. That is a fun and beautiful garden. I am sure yours is just as delightful, in its own way. We are always our own worse critics. I can't wait to see your garden!

  22. Hi Christine! You're a winnerish at Go ahead, start bragging now!

  23. It really is beautiful there, but I have to agree some with Rebecca. Kind of like when I go on the dream house tours and then come home to my house :) I bet your garden looks great and people will love it. I also hope we get to see a tour of yours.
    I love the pending sign too, I might just hang one on the front of the house since we have so many projects to do.

  24. That was a fun tour - I especially liked the vintage tricycle. I'm daunted by other gardens every day while walking through our colony of allotments. But when I reach my own garden, it somehow does seem like home. I'm sure yours is the same!

  25. Christine, you may have to try and follow that garden but they always keep the best for last!


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