the Quirk & Neill garden

Yesterday was a fine day for a drive in the country. Good thing, too, as I managed to get us thoroughly lost more than once. The garden created by Craig Quirk and Larry Neill was well worth any extra time and gas expended to find it (coming from the opposite direction from the directions can be confusing to the spatially challenged). We feared an extended stay when it took us half an hour to work our way down a short side walkway to the garden proper. There was so much to see…not only spectacular plantings, but artful surprises tucked in here and there and everywhere.


Eventually, we emerged into the Mediterranean garden, where we were greeted by Craig Quirk, who graciously offered to answer any questions we might have. I had to do some self-editing, as everywhere I looked were plants I had never seen before (didn’t want to swamp our poor host right off the bat). In the foreground of the first picture is a yucca just coming into bloom, backed by a stand of Asdenophile with feathery foliage and a plethora of tiny pencil-like buds which open fully towards evening (I liked them like this). I forgot to ask about that spiny character in the lower right corner, but the leaves entering the frame from the lower left are Melianthus major.


And here is the Melianthus in a starring role center stage in a muscular aqua pot with an arrangement of Echeverias and sea glass at its feet. The background blue is not the sky, but a concrete wall backing a pool with a tall column spilling water into it. On the other side is a secret shade garden of which I have no pictures (in respect for its secretiveness).


This grass keeps popping up, and this is the most success I have had capturing the luminous seed heads on long, stiff stems. Stipa gigantea is, I think, the name it goes by.


These guys are not about to be thwarted by lack of color. Once the petals fall, they paint the poppy pods to enhance the carefully plotted color scheme.


This was as close as I could come to an overview of the main garden. It is divided into color quadrants around a grassy center anchored by a tall wind sculpture. The impressive red banana to the right has a fellow sentinel to the left. They reside in giant pots, and are treated as annuals (no room in the greenhouse).


Standing at the back of the blue quadrant, the defining golden cypresses can be glimpsed through a haze of blue salvia.


A whimsical palm tree…can you identify those coconuts?


On the far side of the garden is a shady oasis, where this giant cast concrete Gunnera leaf drips water into a waiting pool.


While nearby a Crinus has formed handsome pods to rival the dramatic flowers that went before, flanked by leaves of glass catching the light.


The tablescape of succulents where we ended our tour also included a platter of to-die-for cookies flavored with exotic spices and lemonade enhanced with basil and mint. We observed that gardeners are invariably excellent cooks, and generous to a fault.

The open gardens feature of HPSO is my favorite of the many perks that come with membership. I urge you to join if you would like to be invited into wonderlands such as this.

3 thoughts on “the Quirk & Neill garden

  1. What a paradise! So much inspiration here. I love those gold cypresses and have planted a couple of small ones that were used as potted miniature Christmas trees sold at the grocers last winter. It said hardy to zone 7 on the tag and that is our zone. If they grow up to look like those, well, that would be a good thing. 🙂

  2. Loree…hope to see you at a HPSO event in the near future! I will be looking for Scadoxus at their next plant sale after seeing yours.

    Frances…thanks for leaving a comment so I know you have paid me a visit. And good luck with those cypresses. I always think it is fun to start with something small and watch it develop. Richard, on the other hand, likes to go with the bold gesture and immediate results. It is dangerous to let him loose in a nursery.

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