Fling Visit To The Nichols Garden

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The Nichols garden was my favorite of the fling.  It bedazzled me.  Unfortunately, my photos don't seem to capture the magic of this garden, so I must try to explain, somehow, why it dazzled me.
The genius of the place:
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Okay, for one thing, it clearly illustrated the way in which harmonious color combinations can create a greater beauty than the plants would have had alone and isolated. 
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There were places for the eyes to rest, as well.
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For another thing, every single plant in the whole damn garden looked happy and healthy and thriving! 
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For another thing, the forms and shapes of plants echoed or complemented each other as to create magic.
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 For another thing, every bit of space was well-utilized.  It was a small garden--a small sloping front yard...
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a steep stairway-and-landing pathway up one side of the house, with a pool or stream on each landing...
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then a small patio, tiny shed, and three little terraces ending in a bench by a fence.  
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But every area, vignette, plant, object, space created a mood, a look, a feeling worth lingering with.
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For another thing, everywhere you looked, a tender touch of beauty.  Nothing left plain, yet nothing overwrought.
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A few pots on the patio was a master-class in texture.
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 For another thing, color was perfectly handled. One moved from a white scene that transitioned into acid green and on into colors without startling the eye, and in places an array of warm colors all worked together.  Excitement, not chaos.
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For another thing, there were some bitchen plants.
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 Yes!  Aloe polyphylla!
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For another thing, there were sculptural elements that were cute without being cutesy...
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elegant without being boring...
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...organic without being clumsy.
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They added to the garden;  they were structure, not mere jewelry.

For another thing, it was highly refined.  The garden is the product of thirty years of experimentation and work;  it is clear the owner/gardener knows what to plant where and how to enable a plant to thrive.
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In short this garden was a machine firing on all cylinders, and what we saw was what it was--no empty patches had been quickly stuffed with a flat of annuals...
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...nowhere hung the raw smell of new mulch--this garden had not gotten a quickie spruce up--no lipstick on a pig, no containers hurridly plopped down to jazz things up a bit--it really was that beautiful.
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This garden was just the garden I needed to see at this point in my gardening life--earlier I would have not caught the subtleties of color and form...
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...the cultivated taste in ornamentation--later perhaps with a more jaded eye, I will think it well done for what it was, but small, and not my style, and I would have missed the joy I felt seeing it that day.   
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Sometimes it so happens that you get what you need.  
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  1. I think your photo's are excellent

  2. That is an amazing garden I can see why you like it, an amazing eye for detail and fun done well.

    1. That magnificent Aloe polyphylla right out front set the tone for whole garden. The visit was a great treat.

  3. This garden was hands-down my favorite too. You've captured a lot of the reasons why. I took a photo from the bus window of the front garden, and I realized I caught you in it (from far enough away and with your head down so you're not recognizable). You were one of the last to leave, I realize now you must have been trying to capture and savor every moment allowed. You said here "Nothing left plain, yet nothing overwrought" and I think that is exactly right.

    1. So glad I'm not recognizable, LOL! It was hard to drag myself away--so much to see.

  4. An incredible garden that I also loved. Thanks for finding the words to explain some of its magic. An incredible balance here! Your no lipstick on a pig thought is so true. Nothing was done as a last minute spruce-up. I didn't figure that one out until looking through my images after the fact. It would be a treat to revisit that special place someday! Beautiful images! Have you any idea what the crinkly-leafed begonia is called?

    1. That begonia really caught my eye as well. I don't have any idea, I posted the photo to Name That Plant! on gardenweb, I'll see if I get an ID for it...should have asked the homeowner, but...so many other questions on my mind.

  5. What a lovely, interesting, beautifully planted, full of great and perfectly maintained plants garden. Also photographed to perfection. This post is a treat and I'll be back to peruse again. Thanks

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it--I sure enjoyed taking pictures of it!

  6. I have just spent the last 20 minutes trolling through your Fling posts. Judging from your photos it is going to be hard for future Flings to top the diversity seen in San Francisco.

    1. The organizers did a GREAT job finding a variety of gardens!

  7. You must have had a great time. Thank you for the virtual tour of all the wonderful places you visited. I hope Boris and Natasha haven't missed you too much.

    1. Had a wonderful time, Masha. Plants to see and plant-nuts to talk to!

      Boris and Natasha were fine--the Samoyed breed doesn't usually get super-attached to any one person--a tribal dog, not a personal companion--as long as dinner is ready at the appointed time, all is well.

  8. This was my favorite too Hoov..I remember when we pulled up on the bus and looked out the window and hoped that that garden was "it" ..here is where I regretted not having my camera the most...love seeing your photos and apt commentary.I see a camera drive-by in my future.

    1. Yes when I first saw it out the bus window, my heart stopped, then we drove by it and I thought we were going to the garden across the street, which wasn't bad. But I thought to myself, "I'm going to race and look at that other one!"

      Would love to see your excellent photos of it! Maybe I should have given you my camera for that garden.

  9. Your photos are wonderful dear Hoover. Such a beautiful garden, I love the mix of colours, textures, accents and the amazing amount of plants with variegated foliage.
    xoxoxo ♡

    1. I wish you could see it in person, Dianne, it was truly wonderful.

  10. It's a beautiful garden and you've written a wonderful tribute. I think a long relationship with a garden helps the gardener create that kind of harmony, beauty and sense of thoughtful purposefulness. Thanks for sharing your photos and your experience of the garden.

    1. Thank you, Kris. It was just so inspiring! I now see so much in my own garden that could be improved. Challenges ahead.

  11. This garden is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes it was truly inspiring, that was one of the great things about it. I have major work ahead of me!

  12. This garden was also my favorite from the Fling. You've really thought through why this garden works so well and expressed it very clearly. My reaction is still at the more inarticulate level of: Love the water feature! Love the sunny back garden! Love the live arches! etc.

  13. I know out-of-state readers see nothing but difficult-to-grow exotics, but I bet you'll agree with me that the owner has hit on an array of wonderful plants that want to grow there -- not fiddling with trouble-child plants, which makes it all look so lush and easy and edenesque. Glad you did the double post!

  14. I was talking with Scott as the bus drove past this garden, my eyes focused on his face but still catching the view beyond. I think I managed to say something like "WOW" and he said my whole face just lit up. Ya, this one was special. Funny it didn't really occur to me until reading your post that indeed it was a fairly small garden. There were so many fabulous plants stuffed in there that it felt so much larger. (also glad you posted more photos!)

  15. Absolutely fabulous! I think you and your camera captured the wonder quite beautifully. Wished I'd been able to stay and see this one. But thanks to you, I won't miss it!


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