An Oasis Of Your Own

Backyard Paradise


Meet Loree Bohl, the creative force behind Danger Garden, a blog dedicated to her love of tropical and desert plants. As Loree puts it, “plants that can hurt you. Agave, Yucca, anything with a spike or spur!” She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Andrew, and pug-Chihuahua mix, Lila. We hit her up for some gardening ideas and inspirations.

Tell us about your blog.
I love sharing my gardening and plant passion. There’s a bit of a mystique to it — but really, all you have to do is jump in. Everyone kills plants, and I’m sure to talk about my failures as well as my successes. I’ve met the most incredible people through blogging. Now when I travel to other cities, I frequently meet up with online friends and visit their gardens.

How would you describe your personal garden aesthetic?
Over-planted (aka “cramscaped”). It’s my opinion that if you can see soil, there’s room for another plant or two. My front garden is low maintenance, on the xeric side of things. The back garden is my private oasis; jungly, overgrown, and enclosed. I can easily lose myself in the garden for hours.

Backyard Paradise

What’s the best way to get started on creating a green oasis?
Pick a part of your yard that will give you the most impact, one that’s easily accessible and visible from multiple locations. Start small and work from there. By concentrating your efforts, you’ll set yourself up for success. Once you’ve created one small oasis, you’ll be ready to tackle the next spot, and the next.

What plants work for a tropical look?
Nothing says tropical like big leaves. In my climate, the hardy banana (Musa basjoo) is an easy one to grow, and if you give it plenty of water, it will get quite tall in a single season. Tetrapanax papyrifer is another big-leaved wonder — eventually multistemmed with leaves to three feet wide. Other common plants with a tropical vibe include Fatsia japonica, Canna, and Bamboo.

How about a a desert look?
Yucca are tough-as-nails with that great bloom spike. The prickly pear cactus is native to almost every state in the contiguous U.S.A., and they’re incredibly easy to grow. Just stick a cactus pad in well-drained soil and you’re off! My favorite desert plants are the Agaves. There are extremely cold-hardy versions, as well as those that cope well with a wetter climate, like the Pacific Northwest.

Backyard Paradise

How do I know which plants will grow in my region?
Your local independent garden center is a great resource; they can answer your questions and point you in the right direction. You can also consult the USDA Hardiness map — enter your zip code and you’ll learn which USDA zone you live in. Or just plant what you want and accept that some plants might die.

Where can I go for inspiration?
Garden tours are great for inspiration. It’s a great way to identify styles and plants that speak to you. Of course I’m a little biased, but there’s nothing like a garden blog for inspiration. Spend some time clicking around to find a few you like. Instagram is another great source (follow me @thedangergarden).

What’s your favorite thing to do in your garden?
If friends are over, it’s drinks on the patio. If I’m just relaxing in my garden alone, I’m probably reading a magazine, catching up on my favorite blogs, taking photos for Instagram, or just looking around and soaking it all up. There are days I literally feel like my head might explode because I am so happy to be in my garden.

Any other words of wisdom?
Always remember it’s never too early to plant a tree. If you fall in love with one at the nursery, just buy it, even if it doesn’t fit into your current project. Get it planted and growing so you can see it mature. The sooner you plant, the sooner it will become sturdy enough to support a hammock!

Backyard Paradise