Book Review and Giveaway!!!: Fearless Gardening by Loree Bohl (aka Danger Garden)

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(UPDATE: @thebeeskneesheart on Instagram is the winner. Congratulations!)

If you missed the other giveaways! There’s still one more!!!!!

When Loree announced to her friends that she was writing a book we were thrilled about it and for months we went through the process with her. Being part of a large online gardening community, many of us were already familiar with her garden and many creative talents. Loree has always written great posts and content. She is a big part of our local gardening community, she contributes her time to organizations, and all because she genuinely cares about gardening, design with plants, and supporting small businesses and nurseries.

Of course we asked her what her book would be about, but we were also left in a bit of suspense. I’m so glad it arrived in my hands around Christmas and what a fun surprise to open up the text and see how she handled such an exciting writing challenge! The book turns out to be an encapsulation of what Danger Garden is all about and it’s not just her, it’s about the community she grew in, the community she’s part of, the plants she’s both bought and seen in gardens along the way, as well as the people who’ve influenced her vision.

Fearless Gardening is about being inspired and it’s inspiring. It’s also a testament to a garden, a very popular garden in the city of Portland, Oregon one that I often hear about on social media or while I’m at work. Unlike many gardening texts, this one is very practical, personal, and dare I say it, fearless!

As a fellow garden blogger, one who met Loree years ago through that world, I very much enjoyed seeing the tenor of a book on gardening change. Tenor is the relationship between the voice of the author and the reader, and very often, too often, garden books have been written from a position of authority. This is fine if the writer is someone I already admire for their professional accomplishments, but it’s not something I get excited about reading. In the changing world we’re in, one where readers are more challenging to grab, the tone Loree takes is fantastic! I felt like I knew her, I mean I do, but I feel that even those who don’t will feel like they’re talking to, and receiving tips, from a really good friend who has them in mind. She’s genuine in her advice, and honest in how she got to the point where she’s at, and that to me is excellent garden writing.

During the pandemic it’s been a challenge to wait for the book’s release, but what a refreshing and great surprise when it finally arrived. To my mind, it’s the book that needed to be written after having seen so many visitors remark while visiting Loree’s garden, “How did you do this? I’d like to have a garden like yours.” As I read the book, I kept thinking, this is the answer to that question. If you want a garden like this, you really do have to be fearless… and reading this book will help to better understand her design process too. It’s loaded with great photos, fantastic quotes, rules to break, and it reads like a memoir. I really enjoyed reading it.

So for the next 3 days I’m going to be ripping up my garden—as we do—after we’ve been pumped up and inspired by a great gardening romp on the page.

Felix looking out the car window at Danger Garden. I’m one of only two or three people who’s ever “garden sat” and watered Danger Garden and Felix very much enjoyed driving over with me on those warm summer evenings.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!!

It’s an honor to participate in a giveaway for Fearless Gardening generously sponsored by Timber Press. One lucky reader will receive a copy of Loree’s book along with The Art of Gardening by R. William Thomas. (It’s one of the many great texts mentioned in Fearless Gardening.) This giveaway is open to residents with a valid United States mailing address and a winner will be announced here in 7 days on January 22, 2021. To enter, please leave a comment below telling us all about a plant, small garden, or plant person who inspires you. Give us the details!

I’d love to hear some stories.

And good luck!

Be Bold! Break the Rules! Grow What You Love!

My Oldest Houseplant and Its Friends: Houseplant Count #8-14

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While it’s true that I had other plants earlier in my life, they didn’t make it this far. I often bought inexpensive gift plants for myself when I was young. They would live awhile on a table or a shelf and then die. I didn’t know what I was doing. Like many, my plant collecting began with what I now know of as disposable florist plants. I like to laugh now when I think about all of the good I did by helping to keep growers in business. I still can’t pass up a cute popular plant at the grocery store. Just the other day I found a plant for $1.99 after Christmas at the floral stand. When will I learn? Probably never. I snatched it up and sent a photo of it to two close friends. Now to see if I can keep it alive. (More on that in another post…)

My oldest plant is just a boring old Epipremnum aureus my Mom gave me when I moved into my second apartment. While I’d tried to live alone before, I’d come home after a month when I was 19. I moved out again when I was 20. The year would have been 1994 so this poor thing is 26 years old. I’d hoped to repot it for this blog post, but I’ve been working a lot and will do so this weekend. Poor, poor thing. It has lived in a vintage glass punch bowl, in the near dark above the fridge for years now. After I repot it, I will definitely give it more of a place of honor.

Overall it’s been an amazing plant. I’ve made babies for many people and it has survived some extreme neglect.

Epipremnum aureus, Golden pothos

Houseplant #8: Epipremnum aureus

I had thought my original plant was the variegated golden pothos but after I double checked I realized that even if it had been, the plant had long since reverted to plain green. With some additional light and love it’s likely my original plant may change a bit, but just to be on the safe side, I acquired this one just to be sure I had it back in my collection.

And to be more honest, I’m on quite a kick now for Epipremnum. I’m like a middle schooler collecting Garbage Pail Kids. I want them all!

Golden pothos is likely one of the most common houseplants around. It’s the plant I’ve always given to beginners and as housewarming gifts since it is such an easy plant to grow.

Houseplant #9: Epipremnum aureus ‘Glacier’

It’s hard to tell, but this plant has been in my house for at least 10 years now. It was purchased at Al’s Garden Center back when I worked in Silverton. It nearly died from neglect when I went through my divorce. It’s suffered from overwatering and poor indirect light for years. Only recently has it started to look better. I decided months ago that I had to do this post so I’ve been intentionally paying attention to it.

I could be wrong about the name. There are several that all look alike. Of course I have owned them all at one time or another. That’s one of the frustrating things about these lovely plants. They can all look a lot alike.

Houseplant #10: Epipremnum aureus ‘Jade’

Epipremnum ‘Jade’ is a new plant for me. Again, while preparing to write this I was plant shopping after Christmas and I of course had to purchase any of the plants that I didn’t yet own. I’m happy just to have something green. I will love it on my kitchen wall for it’s lack of variety. My Sicilian Orlando puppet needed a garden of his own. Now he can have it.

Houseplant #11: Epipremnum aureus ‘Marble Queen’

This plant has been even more of a challenge for me but I’ve overwatered it and neglected it too. For years it hung on for dear life in a vintage ceramic planter downstairs. I think for most of its life it’s barely had any nice leaves and I know for a fact that’s because I watered it too heavily and then let it dry out. Sitting is too much water for too long really chokes most plants to death. I am grateful that this one is finally growing well but it is so slow… so… so… slow…

Houseplant #12: Monstera siltepecana

As most folks know, I’m not an avid Monstera fan. This is mostly due to the fact I am not wealthy and am not the type of gardener who finds pleasure purchasing and collecting expensive plants. With my specialty being seed propagation, I tend to have many plants that I’ve been able to grow for much less money because I grew them from seed. Almost all of my expensive plants were gifts or hand-me-downs. This one isn’t even a really “expensive” plant but it was gifted to me. I’ve grown a few plants from the original cuttings to earn money for our Gesneriad Society chapter. I’m happy that I can keep growing plants from it.

Houseplant #11: Epipremnum aureus ‘Neon’

Of all of these, my Epipremnum ‘Neon’ is one of my most robust and happy plants. I have no clue where it originally came from but it has been in my house for well over a decade. The key to owning a happy plant like this is light, lots of care, and repotting it more frequently so that the soil stays nice and airy. To be honest, as time goes on, I’m seeing more and more that constant vigilance and repotting seems to make so many plants happier. It’s what I do at work so using the skills I’ve learned there here at home has really paid off for my plants.

Houseplant #14: Columnea ‘Shy Peach’

Last on my list is a gesneriad. This is the hybrid Columnea ‘Shy Peach’. I have no idea who bred this plant, or when that was, but I inherited it from Dick’s Greenhouse. After the bloom is over, I’ll be able to propagate it to make more for our group. This plant seems to bloom annually in the winter. It’s a nice addition to my other winter bloomers.

Well, that little visit was fun. I hope to add more Epipremnum to my collection soon. I have a friend who is sharing cuttings with me from plants I’ve lost, and I may break down and pay for a more special cultivar but I am weary of purchasing from eBay. I really prefer trades and meeting folks face-to-face but we’re in a pandemic so I need to roll with the times.

Stay safe out there and Happy New Year!