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Garden Writers Association in Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, 23 September 2008
The Eugene After Tours: Round Robin Tour
Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman Garden

This, the garden of Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman, was the #3 garden for the bus I was on. They own MOSAIC, a garden design and construction company. They've done some wonderful things with their own small urban lot.

The excitement began as we got off the bus. As streetside planting
with vivid dahlias, kniphofias, and phormiums created a blazing play
of shapes and colors against the clear blue sky.

Separately, both dahlias and kniphofia are showy flowers.
Put them together, and they're even better. And that's what great gardens
are all about - plants put together so they're better than individually.

In the rear of the property under some grapevines is this fascinating
stone sphere, carefully built up of small slabs of slate. When I saw it I realized
that I'd been here before, when I was lecturing in Eugene a few years ago.
Admittedly, this is a unique and special garden with memorable features.

If you've visited here at BelleWood Gardens and read even a dew
of the entries, you've realized how fond I am of bulbs. Just look at these
pineapple lilies, Eucomis bicolor, gone to seed and still entrancing.
Is it any wonder I'm so fond of plants with those lumpy underground parts
we call bulbs? From dahlias to daffodils, heck, from Achimenes
to Zephyranthes, around the seasons and wherever you garden
there are bulbs to delight you, amaze your friends, and enhance your garden.

One fascinating aspect of this garden is that - firstly, there's no lawn.
Secondly, a fair number of edible plants are tucked about the place, looking beautiful
while they provide food for the table. Grapes and figs and vegetables and herbs.
Sizable rounded boulders provide support and demarkation for the raised beds,
and an aesthetic complement to the gravel mulch that covers the unplanted areas.

Handsome, aren't they.

As are the cardoons in bloom. I've seen these artichoke relatives
grown as foliage plants back on the East Coast. But our growing season
is not usually long enough for them to mature and flower. And our winters
are too cold for their survival from one year to the next.

Rebecca and Buell do great things with stone, not least of which
is this cache of stones, from handful size to smaller and larger. I think
each one was found while beach walking, and was just too appealing
to leave behind. Clustered on the smooth concrete of the front porch
near a bench made from a slab of sandstone, they've found a home.

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