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Garden Photo of the Day

Embracing Wild Color

This garden doesn't shy away from making a bright statement

With spring soon arriving, graphic designer/writer and amateur gardener Jeff Fisher and his husband, law firm executive director Ed Cunningham, are looking forward to the return of the vibrant colors of their zone 8b plantings in what has become known as the Fishingham Garden. The garden—on a 50-foot by 100-foot lot in Portland, Oregon—begins its 20th year this season, having originally been planned by garden designer John Caine, with hardscape and planting installation by Joy Creek Nursery.

Over the years, the flower beds have become more of a personal statement of Jeff’s, who has an appreciation for vibrant colors. A garden industry professional once told him that “it looked as if color had barfed all over his garden.” Ed’s practical side is put to use in maintaining the raised vegetable beds and using the harvested results in his cooking.

With the evolution of the garden has come the removal of all lawn. It its place are patio “rooms” in the front and back of the home, a raised deck with French doors off the main floor bedroom, and gravel/stone paths and paver-stone steps providing circulation and easy gardening access—all serviced by a multizone irrigation system. Over 40 colorful patio, deck, and porch containers are watered by a smartphone-controlled drip-irrigation system.

In 2016, the 1929 bungalow home, garage, and garden shed were repainted green, with the trim colors of deep purple, cream, and purplish gray. The makeover provided an entirely new backdrop for the garden. A complementary color palette for plantings—of greens, purples, oranges, whites, blues, some reds, and a few pinks—has developed and is enhanced by the paint selections. Garden furniture and art pieces have been selected in the same hues. Glass art pieces by Portland artist Andrew Holmberg and a unique fire bowl by Hudson Valley, New York, sculptor John T. Unger are major features.

Fuchsias, hostas, begonias, and an ornamental thistle border the back patio seating area around the John T. Unger fire bowl.

Containers planted with abutilons, coleuses, cordylines, bidens, calibrachoa, and a hibiscus line the edge of the deck off the bedroom. The glass art piece is by Andrew Holmberg.

Colorful containers and a garden bed next to the back patio project a wide variety of colors and textures in perennials and annuals.

Bamboo, bananas, hostas, tomatoes, an Italian climbing bean, and more frame the garden shed in the background.

Dianthus ‘Green Ball’ (Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Ball’, annual), in a patio container, adds another shade of green as well as a Seussian quality to the garden.

A garden path leads through coreopsis, heuchera, hostas, salvia, canna, fuchsia, and zinnias to a front patio seating area shaded by palms and bananas.

An ‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket, Zones 4–9), planted at the base of a banana and palm, adds a shot of color to the front patio.

Redbud ‘Forest Pansy’ (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ Zones 5–9), planted in the hellstrip, buds out prior to the bananas coming in and screening the front patio.

Eryngium bourgatii (Mediterranean sea holly, Zones 5–8) was placed in a front garden bed with no memory that callas had been planted previously, resulting in a surprising combination of shapes, colors, and textures.

Hellebore, Peruvian lily (Alstromeria sp.), campanula ‘Dickson’s Gold’ (Campanula garganica ‘Dickson’s Gold’ Zones 3–8), Armeria maritima ‘Rubrifolia’ (red leaf sea thrift, Zones 4–8), Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ (Queen Victoria cardinal flower, Zones 4–9), Daphne × transatlantica ‘Summer Ice’ (‘Summer Ice’ daphne, Zones 5–9), hosta, heuchera, potentilla, and more make up a colorful front garden border.


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View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 03/11/2019

    Fishingham is a fun garden to start the day! The unexpected combination of pink calla and sea holly is exciting, demonstrating the potential for surprises that bless gardeners more often than many will admit.

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thanks so much!

  2. Garden1953 03/11/2019

    Love it!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thank you!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/11/2019

    Fishingham is certainly a remarkable garden, Jeff and Ed...it displays an impressive and fearless commitment to bright and festive color combinations. Looks like the perfect backdrop for a super fun Mardi Gras kick off party. Your fire bowl is a beautiful piece of art and well worthy of its place of honor between the two chairs that, I suspect, are often relaxed in after a hard day's work.

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      I appreciate your comments. The garden Adirondack chairs get a lot of use while gardening and after a long day.

  4. LauraJaneS 03/11/2019

    Very fun! Do you bring many cut flowers into the home? Looks like lots available. Well done.

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thanks! I'm adding more cut flower options to the garden all the time.

  5. Doxnmomx2 03/11/2019

    You have a beautiful garden rolled in fun! What's not to like? If someone said color barfed all over my garden, I'd take it as a compliment! Thank you for sharing!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. user-5117752 03/11/2019

    WOW!!! I just visited a fairyland of plants, trees, shrubs of color and design!!! And the most charming house of the same imagination and color!!! Now that's a garden I'd love to visit!!! Thank you so very much for taking the time to share!!!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. User avater
    SimpleSue 03/11/2019

    Great combinations, and love the colors on the cottage and flowers. And I learned something new- I had to google "hellstrip" to be sure it was what I thought it was! That photo of the Redbud with the front of the house is just amazing and lush with interest- it's such a part of your front garden landscaping I at first thought it was the back garden. I'm super impressed with what you guys did.

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thanks so much. We wanted to the front garden to be used as much as the back - and suddenly lots of neighbor started spending more time gardening in the front of their homes.

  8. DebbieMountainMama 03/11/2019

    What a fantastic garden! Such a happy space to enjoy at the end of a long day!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thank you!

  9. cheryl_c 03/11/2019

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Whatever color your house was before, I am so glad it is now green and purple! You have used the colors I most enjoy in my gardens, with a few additions, so, while I felt very much at home, I was excited by some of your combinations. I agree that the callas with the sea holly was a startling and delightful serendipity!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thanks! The house was originally as sage green, that faded to almost a gray over the years. With the new paint colors the garden was suddenly so much more vibrant.

  10. BTucker9675 03/11/2019

    A garden of enchantment!!!

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Thank you!

  11. User avater
    user-7007816 03/13/2019

    This garden and the whole setting is definitely one of my favorites of many fine postings. It is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    1. User avater
      TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

      Flattered by your comment. Thank you!

  12. User avater
    TheFishinghamLife 03/22/2019

    Flattered by your comment. Thank you!

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