I confess to skipping more local garden tours than I attend. So many feature newly-installed McMansion gardens, heavy on the high-end hardscape - think oversized outdoor kitchens that look like no one has ever eaten in them, let alone prepared a meal - and endless stretches of uninspiring, pristine lawn. But when I read that this year’s Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour in the East Bay included several of my longtime, wish-list gardens, I realized this particular tour was not to be missed.
Keeyla Meadows' garden was my first stop of the day. I’ve blogged about the well known designer, author and sculptor before, whose most recent book Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener's Guide to Jumping Off the Color Wheel pushes the boundary on color in the garden. Many garden designers emphasize foliage color and texture over flowers, and limit bright colors to a few containers or the occasional focal point wall. Cheekily thumbing its nose at such restraint, Keeyla’s garden celebrates color with an exuberant ferocity that makes a visit there a one-of-a-kind experience.
Walls in a range of colors form the backdrop for her custom containers,
and of course, flowers..or edibles like this artichoke that's been allowed to flower.
But spend too much time looking around, and you’ll miss the riot of color, shapes and textures on the ground.
Playfully painted and bejeweled seating is tucked throughout the garden.
How perfect is the contrast provided from the loropetalum peaking around the corner?
A corner is transformed into a colorful nook.
For those of you with small gardens like mine who complain about lack of space, take a cue from Keeyla. Anything is fair game, including the roof of her design shed.
In addition to the walls, floors and rooftops, the plants themselves are not shy, adding plenty of garden color on their own.
Hot plantings in shades of red, orange and pink are toned down with peachy hues,
and the occasional shot of cooling blue or lavender.
Shown here with Garden Conservancy volunteer and director of the new Sunset Western Garden Plant Collection Janet Sluis, Keeyla was a warm and gracious hostess, making all of us gushing tour-goers feel welcome. (If you’ve never met either of these charming ladies, Keeyla is the one on the right – her clothes and personality are every bit as colorful as her gardens.)
On a final note, my once daring purple wall seems pretty tame in comparison. Time to break out the paint cans! Stay tuned…