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Chilean Fire Bush - a hidden jewel in our garden

It is heartbreaking that this beauty is hidden in our garden but at least the hummingbirds have found it. Hidden because it is planted behind a 7 feet tall rose. I planted it there because I was under the impression that it would become a tree. It can indeed become a tree and there is one growing about a mile from our house that is around 20 feet tall.  In our garden, it is taking its sweet time and is only 4 feet tall after being planted seven years ago (2017). It did not begin to bloom until its fifth year and this is the first year flowering has been so profuse. Whenever I think about this plant, I always remember what the Gosslers said in their book "The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs". I quote it here: "Since this plant comes from southern Chile, we begin with a word of warning: it will not grow anywhere in the United States outside western Washington, Oregon and northern California. People wanting to grow E. coccineum in the eastern part of the country will

Ku'ulei 'Aina

We had planned to leave early on Sunday morning although the Blogger's Fling continued through Monday. There was, however, another garden that we desperately wanted to see. 

"Ku'ulei 'Aina" ("My Beloved Land") is the garden of Christopher, one of the planners of the fling. I've followed his blog "Outside Clyde" for years. He build his home from the ground up, documenting each step along the way. That is quite an accomplishment for anyone but especially when you see the terrain! The house sits on stilts on a steep mountainside near the town of Clyde, N.C. When I first start reading his blog, I didn't know that "Clyde" was a town and thought that the blog was written by a guy named Clyde who enjoyed being outdoors. 

We arranged to catch Christopher's garden on our way out of Asheville since it was on our route back home. It was a sunny morning with temperatures pleasantly brisk. A gorgeous drive it way, up the mountain, along winding turns and curves, with small grocery/gas stations along the way. It was like stepping back in time and I experienced a tinge of nostalgia as it reminded me a lot of the area where I grew up (Franklin County, Alabama).  

Standing on the porch overlooking an artful arrangement of stones
On the opposite side, a beautiful hillside meadow filled with wildflowers, annuals and perennials

At the top of the meadow and next to the vegetable garden stood an old chimney
An added bonus to this tour was seeing the garden of Christopher's mother, who livs next door on the other side of the woods. She was so nice and her garden was a treat. It sits on a large hillside above her house and is filled with wildflowers, hostas and native shrubs. There was even a rhododendron still blooming.

That concludes the gardens we saw during the Garden Bloggers Fling and I haven't even started on the gardens we saw before the Fling. We traveled to Raleigh (J.C. Arboretum, Plant Delights), Durham (Sarah Duke Gardens), Seaford, Virginia (Pam Harper's garden), Norfolk (Norfolk Botanical Gardens, the Pinkham garden) and Richmond (Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden). All of those gardens are coming up next. In hindsight, I can't believe I saw so many gardens on this trip!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I am so glad you didn't miss Ku'ulei 'Aina. I know Christopher would have been disappointed if you had missed it. It was just as he depicts it on his blog don't you think? Only when there you can get the feeling of these mountains and grand spaces.

  2. Great pictures! This was a wonderful way to end a great Garden Bloggers Fling. Wow, I had no idea you had seen so much before the Fling! No wonder poor Michaels hip was giving him a hard time. What a wonderful vacation you two had touring gardens....

  3. Sounds like a wondeful trip and can't wait to see all the pictures! Thanks, Carol

  4. Your pictures are great! I've never been to Chris's home, but I don't see how anyone could just take a quick look and walk away. I want to take a seat somewhere and just stare at all of it.

  5. What a beautiful garden Phillip. And the light captured in the Columbine photo is just positively divine…

  6. Great pictures as always Phillip. It was worth a short side trip. I bet even Micheal thinks so now that he is back home. Come back to visit if you are ever this way again.

  7. Loved the hosta almost glowing photo!! That chimney was so interesting -- love old brickwork.

  8. I love this garden. One question how does he keep the grass in check around the stone formation? This is my kind of vacation trip. Hope to make it next year. My daylilies and Japanese iris are in full bloom. I kid you not I took over 1040 pictures Monday morning before going to the Memorial Day ceremony in Tuscumbia where I took around 350 pictures. This year had a special meaning as I recently found out about a great uncle killed in WWI. A sad story of family forgetting him. I have that story on my new blog "The Tuscumbian" named after the old movie theater in Tuscumbia.

  9. It is a beautiful garden, thank you for the tour. I loved the photography too.

  10. I've also followed Christopher's blogs over the years and been amazed at how hard he works and the wonderful ideas he has.
    It was so much fun to see Ku'ulei 'Aina through your lens, Phillip. Your post is a beautiful blend of journalism and art!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Beautiful photos, Phillip. You've caught that magical quality of light. It was lovely to meet you both at the Fling.

  12. So much beauty. Your photos are stunning Phillip!

  13. I thought the same thing as you about Outside Clyde, Phillip! Love your photos.

  14. thanks for this nice walk!!!

    a big hello from Madrid,

  15. I was unable to attend the Asheville Fling, though I really wanted to. I have just spent the last half hour or so looking through your posts of the tour gardens. Each one was a favorite, for different reasons, but I truly loved your views of the North Carolina Arboretum and Wamboldtopia! Thanks for your posts, and I look forward to seeing the other gardens you viewed along the way.


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