Garden Visits

Dragonfly Hollow red Lutyens bench

Dragonfly Hollow,

The Designer’s Garden


With decades as an ardent gardener, Vanessa created a display garden full of design experimentation, with new plants, plant combinations, and ideas on 2/3 of the one-acre property owned from 1990 to 2022.

The other third was a wild ravine where we watched what Mother Nature did, but where we finally decided to take a hand to restore Mother Nature, eliminate the invasive plants, and plant more native and adaptable non-invasive plants.

The theme of the upper garden was “Peace Through Culture”, inspired philosopher Nicholas Roerich. Garden art designed by Vanessa for this garden had one important criteria: show what two or more cultures have in common.

Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel
Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel

Top left going right:

A privacy gate to the Ravine Garden; pebble mosaic steps allowed us to travel from the bridge out into the middle stroll garden; A small, Lutyens-style bench stained in red-orange made this view even more special; Custom colored concrete and made just for us, we FINALLY had our fire pit surrounded by the gabion seat wall; a stand to hang the special bell that Vanessa brought back from the Beijing Dirt Street Market; our Pétanque court with pebble mosaic circle as throwing point; our incredibly downsized water feature; three red umbrellas, an asset in the outdoor living area on hot, sunny days; (center) the deck seating beneath our Forest Pansy redbud tree with spray-stained wicker chairs.

What People Say About Vanessa

“Dragonfly Hollow”

My mind returns to the garden of designer and author Vanessa Nagel, Dragonfly Hollow. This garden included some striking formal elements, including a magnificent topiary peacock, clipped hedges and strong axial points, as well as fluid curves and soft, wispy plantings within the circular garden shapes.
—Kate Bryant, Portland, OR (reporting on the HPSO 2011 Study Weekend)

“Enjoyed your garden”

So enjoyed your garden tonight and seeing all the editing you’re doing. Your art and design in the garden is so unique and truly wonderful. You have so much plant material that’s put together in such rich combinations. Thank you so much for sharing with us all!
—Carolyn, Battle Ground, WA

“Opening Your Garden”

Thanks so much for opening your garden to us. It was glorious.
—Alyse, Portland, OR

Gardens We Have Visited

Boboli Garden


Chateau val Joanis

Chelsea Physic Garden

Chihuly Glass Garden


Denver Botanic Garden

RBG Edinburgh


Huntington Botanical Gardens


Jardin d’Alchemiste

Lan Su Chinese Garden




Portland Japanese Garden

RHS Wisley

Ruth Bancroft Garden


The Alhambra

The High Line

Lurie Garden

Villa d’Este

Visit your own garden after you’ve done these:

Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel

Create Four-Season Gardens

  • Include rain gardens to keep stormwater on your property
  • Add deciduous shade trees on the south and west side of your home.
  • Lighting is a beacon for safety at night in all seasons.
  • Visit nurseries in all seasons to see what is blooming for your garden
  • Consider a meadow in lieu of lawn to increase visual interest.
  • Plant drought (or wet)-tolerant, native or non-invasive plants
Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel

Add Eco-Friendly Curb Appeal

  • Maintain your landscape organically,
  • Install low-mow turf, eco-friendly lawns, low-water irrigation.
  • Use eco-friendly paint everywhere it’s needed.
  • Use low-voltage, eco-friendly LED lighting.
  • Mow what you have with an electric mower.
  • Use organic fertilizers.
  • Apply soil & pollinator friendly weeding practices
Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel

Install Kitchen Gardens and Outdoor Kitchens

  • Cook organically grown edibles on an outdoor grill.
  • Make cocktails at your patio bar from your herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees.
  • Select heirloom seeds and flowering annuals to lure beneficial pollinators and deter pests.
  • Reduce your food costs.
  • Grow organically to improve your carbon footprint.
  • Use calories working in your garden and get vitamin D.
  • Improve your nutrition with fresh edibles straight from your garden.
  • Nature nurtures your physiology, your psychology, and it tastes good, too!
Seasons Garden Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel

Harmonious Outdoor Living

  • Coordinate your garden and interior styles with your architectural style: use similar materials, textures and patterns.
  • Synchronize art, furniture and fabrics outside with inside.
  • Light the garden to extend your time in it, but make sure it doesn’t create glare!
  • Use color, color, color to increase harmony!
  • Extend your living space into your garden with a patio,
  • Deck, fountain, planters, garden furniture & fabric, fireplaces,
  • Fire pits, and outdoor audio/video.
  • Add a water feature, gazebo or pergola to help harmonize your home and garden with a livable garden…not a muddy yard.