A Look Back at the John Kuzma Garden

 I could probably post every day for a month or two and never run out of garden tour photos. Visits to private and public gardens are lined up on the horizon, with my 1st Garden Conservancy Open Day on the agenda for this Saturday, and Garden Bloggers Fling only a couple of weeks away.  I feel like I need to share a couple more of my 2018 visits before I head off to 2019 for good.

 I first visited John Kuzmas garden when it was a stop on Garden Bloggers Fling Portland in 2014. Horticultural riches are plentiful in Portland but I was especially taken with this garden. Sean Hogan , the iconic PNW plantsman and the proprietor of  Cistus Nursery, was the designer. As I left, I knew that I would need/want to return again; it was one of those gardens that we experience which stay with us. In September 2018  my opportunity to revisit this garden arrived at last. A business trip to Portland coincided with the Oregon Hardy Plant Society Fall Plant Fest, and I had about 24 hours before I had to head off for the rest of the business portion of my brief time there. The excellent Loree of Danger Garden fame, was able to facilitate a visit for myself and our friend Gerhard of Succulents and More who was also in town to attend Plant Fest. Gerhard posted about this lovely evening here.

  Mr. Kuzma and his wife Kathleen are marvelously gracious hosts, who clearly love their garden and love to share it.  And icing on the cake, wine was involved.

   Paired up with this pristine Agave ovatifolia is a Leucadendron argenteum not hardy in PDX. John explained the lengths he goes to to provide winter protection, involving a sturdily constructed cover and Christmas lights as I recall. We gardeners do sometimes jump over hoops . The resulting vignette here with Acacia baileyana purpurea as a backdrop (seen on the upper left and upper right in the next photo below) is well worth the effort.

 One of the first things I noticed when entering the garden was how much the plants had grown since my previous visit in 2014.

 I will not hesitate to buy this Tibouchina if I ever find it --is it T. granulosa ? I don't know.

  The path has narrowed.

 The plant combinations are masterful, a mash-up of texture and color that could very easily be poorly executed in the wrong hands.

 I am on a crusade to find Melianthus 'Purple Haze'.

 I took many photos of this focal point oil jar.

Here is a photo I took in 2014. Though it is from a slightly different perspective you can see how much more open the space is, and how much of the house is visible.

 The crevice garden had filled in nicely too-notice the contrast with the photo above.

 This beautiful and spacious greenhouse was added since my last visit . A great place to hang oui for some garden immersion in the dead of winter, and a great rain shelter to putter about in during spring.

  Dramatic greenhouse 'front yard'.

 I wish I had some images of this water feature from 2014 that displayed the growth behind the wall better . If you look at this GB Fling post from Gerhard you will clearly see the difference.

 This garden has a palpable sense of place. When you are in it, the neighborhood around you doesn't seem to exist, and the richness and diversity of the plants that surround you and loom overhead enhance the feeling that you are somewhere else, somewhere that conifers, succulents, tropicals and Mediterranean plants all live in harmony. We humans should be so lucky.


  1. Your post brings back such happy memories! Did I tell you this garden will be part of the Study Weekend? Your third visit is coming up!

    1. Yay ! I noticed a pic of Floramagoria on the HPSO blurb as well. Really looking forward to seeing that one again. I'm working diligently on getting all the unplanteds planted-I know what is going to happen.

  2. Agree 100%: awesome garden. Everything has grown magnificently since '14.

    The Leucadendron argentea look waaaay better than the one at the Getty.

    1. It's great isn't it ? The best L. argentea I see seem to be in coastal or bay influenced areas , i.e Santa Cruz, Berkley etc.

  3. Great to see this again through your excellent photos after a few more years of growth. That last photo looks like it was taken of a SoCal garden, and I think I'm seeing caesalpinia in bloom in some of the photos too. Amazing horticultural skills.

    1. I wonder how much of the garden requires protection vs. plants that look tropical but live through a PDX winter and come back just fine. I'm looking forward to seeing this garden again at the end of this month.

    2. What a gorgeous garden. I can sure understand why you wanted to see it again. That drooping, blue-silver eucalyptus, wow. Great photos.


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