Loree's Dangerously Beautiful Garden

Loree's Dangerously Beautiful Garden

Evita Smith
Jul 17, 2012

Name: Loree & Andrew Bohl, plus Lila, our chug (chihuahua pug mix)
Location: Portland, Oregon
Years lived in: 7

I'm very excited to share the outdoor space of Portland gardener Loree Bohl! I stumbled upon her blog, Danger Garden, a couple years back, and have been hooked ever since. I love watching her chronicle her expanding green space and taking us on virtual tours of other likeminded gardeners. I tend to use adjectives like cute, adorable, and cuddly when I share her space with others. Thank goodness my husband is unfazed and usually jumps in the passenger seat when I 'drive' to the site.

When Loree and her husband Andrew moved into their Portland home seven years ago, the backyard was a weedy lawn with a few skinny borders around the house. In the first year living in the house, they set about reclaiming the space by removing the grass and what was currently in the beds. The second summer found them rebuilding a crumbling wall that divided the upper and lower portions of the garden, and extending it to run the length of the property, behind the garage. The patio was installed in the fall and they waited until the following year to build the gorgeous shade pavilion. The pavilion also acts as a makeshift greenhouse during the winter months for some of the container plants. The Bohls now enjoy a lush oasis in the back, allowing them to spend much of their time with friends and family outside during the warmer months.

The front yard was planned for low maintenance, balancing the water needs of the back. Life in the PNW doesn't allow for much outside time in the grey and rainy winter months, so during that time the back yard is almost abandoned, but the front is seen every day. Loree has created a place for discovery in the front yard, and loves watching people stop to examine the plants as they're walking by the house. She loves being able to share the names of the plants, and enjoys how excited people are with their new find! Loree chose most of the plants for their winter interest... color, berries, evergreen leaves, and even winter bloomers.

As with the backyard, the first year in the front yard was focused on removing the lawn. Portland had experienced several years of mild winters, and many of the plants she chose for the front were moderately hardy to the Zone 8 area. But after back to back killing winters in 2008/9 and 9/10, Loree had to overhaul the space. The current results are from the planting in the spring of 2011; the yard will change a lot of the next few years as the trees and shrubs take on some size.

Loree says that the best part of being a gardener is sharing her passion with others, and this is a big part of why she started Danger Garden. She's been posting five times a week for almost three and a half years, and I know I've learned a lot from her! I would also like to mention that Loree is a co-founder of Plant Lust, a wonderful resource site for searching and learning about plants and more importantly, where they're sold! It's a relatively new venture and I know I'm grateful for all the hard work that's been done to date.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Spiky modern plant collector.

There is a part of me that would love to have a clean-lined, modern, "designed" garden where all the plantings were deliberate and purchased to support The Plan, but I'm such a plant lover that simply isn't possible. My garden needs to support my plant lust — I guess the hardscape is my attempt to bring a little control to the chaos.

As for my plant palate, I dream of living in the desert and letting my spiky succulent passion run wild, but I'm not entirely sure I could give up the lush green foliage living in Oregon allows for. Maybe I've got the best of both worlds right here?

Inspiration: I find my design inspiration everywhere, from the pages of magazines to books, blogs and other people's gardens. Before there was such a wealth of inspiring images available online I would tear pictures from magazines, and started a "someday" file for my future garden back when all I was gardening on were windowsills.

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona really changed the way I thought about plants; here was an entirely different style of gardening! Visiting local nurseries with great display gardens helps me to visualize plant combinations and mature sizes to see what really works in my climate.

Favorite Element: The way the back garden unfolds. When you first walk in you don't realize there is a sunken patio beyond, and then once you're on the patio you see there is a building and more seating in the shade, behind the garage.

Biggest Challenge: Natural: rain. As a gardener I want to be outside at the first sign of spring, but here in Portland we have very wet springs. It's demoralizing as well as being a challenge for the kind of plants I like to grow (heat and drought loving). That said it's also a precious resource, and I try to remember how lucky we are (as I watch my favorite Agaves float down the river street).

Man made: we have no view of the back garden from inside our house. You have to walk to the very corner of the bedroom or media room to look out the window! Garden access is also an issue. There is no direct connection to the back garden — you have to step into the driveway and walk around to the back of the house.

What Friends Say: Is the patio open?

Biggest Embarrassment: That it took us 6 years to paint our house. It doesn't matter how good the garden is when everywhere you look you see flaking white paint.

Proudest DIY: Our patio… to be able to sit there and remember how it looked before (weedy lawn) and the weekends spent building it with my husband. I'm lucky he had the long term vision and drive; there were times I wanted to give up. Now, it's my favorite place to be.

Biggest Indulgence: Plants! I am lucky to live somewhere with a wealth of independent nurseries; it's my duty to support them!

Best Advice: Don't worry about "the rules" of gardening… just get started, the rest will follow.

Dream Sources: I dream of a big glasshouse to overwinter my succulents, but since we've used every square inch of available land I haven't spent any time researching them. I also would love to have a huge garage-size rolling glass door on the back of the house so we could open it up and have the house and garden become one, California-style.

Resources of Note:




Thanks, Loree!

(Images: Loree Bohl)

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