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sprig to twig » places

Archive for the ‘places’ Category

Hilda’s Garden

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Hilda in her garden

What could be more delightful than having lunch with long-time friends who are also gardeners? It was a grey day, but Hilda’s smile could light up any amount of gloom.

raised beds

This is a food-centric garden. Hilda does the planting and tending, while Bill pitches in by building structures like these raised beds out front,

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and systems like this one for capturing water, tucked away behind a grape vine on a trellis.

espaliered fruit trees

Espaliered fruit trees divide the space.

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Many of the plantings could pass as purely ornamental, but careful thought has gone into attracting bees and other pollinators.

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Colorful Achilleas spill over gravel paths.

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No reason yummy cannot also be beautiful.

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Not that there aren’t a few plants included for their beauty alone.

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Some architectural fragments peek out here and there.

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Ditto bits of whimsy.

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A bench for taking it all in.

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Thanks, Bill and Hilda, for inviting me to spend an afternoon in your urban oasis.

memory lane

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Jenni’s house

I went to West Linn high school, so when Jenni offered to host the spring blogger’s plant swap, I was doubly excited. Getting to hang out with garden nuts who have become friends while we trade plants; getting to poke around old haunts…what could be better?
Jenni, her husband and kids have taken on the project of revitalizing a home and garden that have been in the family for generations. Just have a gander at that bold, modern color and you get an idea of the direction they are taking.

the back yard

The lot stretches waay back to beyond those raspberry bushes you see in the distance. The grass was wet, so only a couple of hardy souls, properly shod, ventured back there. I know from Jenni’s blog that there are raised beds on the left of the path that get put to good use come summer.

flower beds

A pair of mixed borders flank the entrance to that back area we just saw. The swap was in late April, and I think these bed are looking pretty great for that early in the season. Just imagine what they must look like now.

pink dogwood

There’s lots of history here, meaning several mature trees. Talk about bones!

the swap

We crowded onto the driveway with our plants. Here a serious conference is going on. Heather, Amy, Jane, Ann, Loree and Matthew look like they are debating the merits of some offering.typical street

Back in the day, the little town of Willamette was a sleepy little burg ideally located on the Willamette River. It had lots of trees but no sidewalks. None of that has changed.

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No sign of what’s been happening in so many communities, namely multi-family units and McMansions shoehorned into slots where humble abodes once sat.

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Cute little cottages and farm houses in a melange of architectural styles have simply been upgraded with fresh paint and gardens (nobody “gardened” back when I was visiting friends in Willamette).

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Houses I remembered as “ramshackle” have been spruced up without losing their character.

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I failed to get photos of the main street, which is a shame. Like the town itself, it has spruced up, with any new buildings taking on the character of others on the street. It reminds me a little bit of Carmel, but not as slick. This is my idea of gentrification done right (if that is even the right word for it). So often, visiting old stomping grounds is a sad exercise. Willamette has been annexed and is now considered part of West Linn, but it has managed to maintain its own distinct personality. I guess you can go home again, and even be pleasantly surprised.

Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

picnicers

These folks take full advantage of the fact that Mother’s Day falls in the middle of iris season. There were plenty of places to picnic, free bouquets for moms and even a harpist.

artist at work

A few artists had set up their easels. You had to be a bit of an exhibitionist because there was no shortage of onlookers.

iris beds

The iris beds are set out in rows, filling a large area with wide grass paths between.

iris with companion plants

They are meant to show off the iris in combination with companion plants. I quite liked the tall purple lupine with the yellow iris.

iris with peony

An iris/peony combo can be effective, but I didn’t think these colors worked very well together.

ID’s on all iris

It kept the borders from being completely integrated, but placing the irises on the outsides of the rows and clearly labeling them made it easy to choose favorites.

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I was on the lookout for ‘Before the Storm’, a nearly black iris, after admiring it on a blog (I’ll come back later and link to it). It was available on line, but I couldn’t find it in the gardens. There were plenty of other dark beauties though.

mixed hedgerow

The mixed plantings surrounding the display garden created some lovely spots to picnic.

vignette with blue pot and eremurus

Occasionally, a planting would leave out iris altogether, like this one with Eremurus surrounding a huge blue pot.

dusky brown

I tend to go for the dusky colors. I can’t quite read the whole label on this one, but at $45 it’s a little rich for my blood anyway.

Touch of Mahogany

I’ll settle for ‘Touch of Mahogany’ for a mere $9.

Some Like it Hot

Maybe I’ll even spring for the $16 ‘Some Like It Hot’ when I put in my order for ‘Before The Storm’.

long table displays

Talk about impressive: this photo shows only a portion of the hall filled with labeled cut specimens of all the iris available here.

the loot

There was a big table of potted up iris for sale. Knowing of my quest, R bought me a dark one and I added a delicate Siberian. I have misplaced the labels, so I can’t be more exact until they turn up. There’s my free Mother’s Day bouquet, which doesn’t look like much in this photo, but each of those buds turned into a beautiful blossom and I am still enjoying it over a week later.

Siberian

The subtle markings on this were what spoke to me.

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They threw in a free catalog and I went for some special fertilizer. Next year should be a good iris year. This was a fun outing, especially taking the back roads south of Portland. If a road trip is not in the cards, you can check Schreiner’s online. How about you? Are you smitten with iris? What else takes your breath away in this pulchritudinous month of May?

new New Seasons on Williams Avenue

Monday, January 27th, 2014

new seasons metal trees

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of the New Seasons on Williams because it is right on my way to Ristretto’s cafe in that neighborhood. It outdid my expectations, with these sculptural trees marching down the side facing Vancouver Ave.

new seasons trellises

Metal mesh panels are bolted to the wall behind the trees to support climbing vines. I like this idea, though I’m not sure the trees will stand out as much once the vines fill in to cover the mesh.

New Seasons real trees

All is not fantasy on this site. Plenty of real, living trees have been incorporated into the landscape design.

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Unlike so many commercial projects, a nice variety of trees has been introduced.

grassy strips between parking

Instead of pulling up to the nose of another car, the parking areas are divided by these grassy raised beds.

NS entrance

A nice selection of seasonal plants greets you at the entrance.

plants for urban gardeners

Plants for urban gardeners line the walls near the entrance.

NS cut flowers

Right outside the doors are banks of cut flowers. Step through and find succulents and house plants. They have even begun labeling their succulents with correct botanical names. Isn’t it nice to know that someone is listening to our concerns? All New Seasons stores offer a pleasant shopping experience, but this one has special appeal for we who call ourselves gardeners.

Viscaya & Xera in one day? Whew!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Amy

It had been too long since Amy and I had taken a road trip. Neither of us had been to Viscaya, and it was opening day at Xera/Potted, so off we went.

Viscaya grounds

Behind an unassuming chain link fence with tasteful (read: easy to miss) signage is a secret garden that goes on and on.

Viscaya sculpt

Grassy paths, punctuated by sculptures and other interesting features, provide access to island beds, each with its own character. As you can see (behind the sculpture) tables of plants for sale are scattered throughout, making for a unique shopping experience.

Arborvitae labyrinth

As if to prove that there is no such thing as a bad plant, Arborvitae has been used to create a labyrinth. Above is a peek into the entrance, with a piece of driftwood for a focal point. The outer walls provide a perfect background for lighter, brighter plant groupings.

Viscaya round garden

A dramatic feature was this large round grassy area bordered by daylilies. Pillars topped with round planted pots guard the entry, with a huge, red shallow pot dead center.

Shishigashuri

As we worked our way around the back of the building, we came across a thriving Japanese maple (maybe Shishigashura?) in a big pot.

Abelia blossoms

A mature Abelia vine in flower clambered over a fence. Amy said she had never seen one flowering.

persimmon fruit

We decided this persimmon had to be the tiniest fruit we’d ever seen. The tree was impressive, part of an orchard laid out in a grid.

orchard in squares

Each unique tree occupies its own perfect square, with crisp edging of the grass path surrounding it.

fountain beds

The same edging technique carries over into the quadrants circling this fountain. A liberal use of water in pools and fountains pervades the grounds.

carniverous plants

Carniverous plants are happy in this water-filled urn.

rustic archway

The parking area is on the back side of housing units, each with a different colored door that corresponds to the colors of the plants featured on tables nearby. I liked the rustic archway and unusual plants at this portal. Each one is unique.

plants from Viscaya

Top left is a plant that was huge in the display garden, Ligularia wilsonii. This is a plant I had avoided because I didn’t like the flowers. That’s what a display garden will do: I wound up thinking “flowers, shmowers…who cares?”; top right, Hosta ‘Fire & Ice’; bottom left, Ipomea x multifida (cardinal climber); bottom right, Plectranthus cellatus ‘Variegata’. The prices at Viscaya are another reason to make the drive to the far east side of town. Silly me: I only bought things I knew would fit into my plans.

Xera signage

On to Xera, a much anticipated opening by all the garden geeks in town. One of those, fellow blogger Laura, was giggling with glee as she selected her booty.

Xera overview

Another chain link fence, but this time it is obvious that an event of the horticultural kind awaits.

loaded tables

Tables are loaded with the fantastic array of plants Xera has long been noted for.

big shallow pots

But that’s not all! Truly elegant pots, many of them potted up in appropriate and imaginative ways, add to the sophisticated ambiance.

more pots

The possibilities for combinations are mind-boggling.

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The close-in southeast location makes this an easy place to visit again and again. I see a lot of that in my future.

Arisaema taiwanese & Echeveria ‘Haagal’

For now, though, I indulged in only two plants…but they are beauts: Echeveria ‘Haagal’ and Arisaema taiwanense. This was Xera/Potting’s soft opening for working out the kinks. As far as I could tell, there were no kinks in sight.

a couple of little parks

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

near the convention center

I may have to take a closer look at this little park when I go to the Yard, Garden & Patio Show this weekend. It’s near the convention center, covering one block. I love the large cement orbs and the serenity this space brings to a hectic, high-traffic part of the city. By the way, I will be in the HPSO booth Friday evening, so if you happen to be at the show in the 4:45-7:30 time slot, stop by to say “Howdy”, won’t you?

NW park 27th & Upshur

I lived in NW for many years, but this little park escaped my attention. Those low walls surrounding the plaza would be a perfect perch for brown bagging it.

closer look at the sculpture

Here’s a closer look at the whimsical sculpture that anchors the plaza. I’m delighted by these little surprise parks tucked here and there around the city. I’ll share whenever I find a new one…hope you will too.

come to a birthday party

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

deck

I met Doug and Joyce many years ago. They were remodeling a barge into a floating home and we were doing the same with a decommissioned tugboat. We were moored side by side at the tip of Tomahawk Island when it was still undeveloped and wild. Such conditions breed close relationships that stand the test of time, even when later contact is sporadic and widely spaced. Indeed, the last time we visited them in the hills above Sheridan, they were living in tents and logging the land to build their house.

clay sculpture

Doug is an architect/furniture builder and Joyce is an artist/teacher, so artistic touches wait around every corner…like this clay sculpture with its arms raised in celebration.

andiron plant stands

I can only imagine how great it would be in high summer, but the stripped down winter face allowed little touches, like the repurposing of a pair of andirons to hold a metal pot, to stand out.

the wrap-around deck

The wrap-around deck has pergolas, roof lines and decorative elements to keep it interesting.

save the trees

A cutout in the decking accommodates a tree growing close to the house.

whimsical handrail

I didn’t take many indoor shots because the party was in full swing, but here’s a whimsical handrail.

huge jade plant

A huge jade plant filled an alcove.

jade with lights

It was dressed for the season.

Doug in his shop

Here’s Doug in his woodworking shop.

carving on a panel in progress

A peek at some of the carving on a panel he’s working on. Every door in the house is its own miniature landscape.

the four daughters

I failed to get a picture of the birthday girl, but the four daughters are like versions of Joyce. They regaled the crowd with song and dance and silliness back there with the tree in the window for a backdrop. It is such a joy to reconnect with old friends. I hope you got to do some of that during the holidays.

Elizabeth Caruthers Park

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

signage

This two acre park is tucked into the South Waterfront development, a gentle respite from the glass towers rising all around it. You can see it from a landscape architect’s point of view here and learn about its namesake here by scrolling down to Anna B’s comments. But first, lets just stroll around and see what there is to see.

bridge over swale

At the southern end of the park there are swales spanned by plank bridges in sweeping curves.

another view

My first impression was of all native plantings, but in fact there are some non-natives worked in to better serve the design.

birches

These birches are a case in point.

birches from farther back

I can’t imagine this scene without them.

boardwalk bench

Benches have been worked in here and there, each in a style appropriate to its surroundings. Here the bridge planks have been extended to keep sitters out of the flow of foot traffic.

heading North towards the berm

Heading North, you can see the wedge-shaped berm creating a grassy clearing at the center of the park.

looking back

Looking back at the berm from the far side, you can see that the plant material and style of planting has changed.

cistus

Mass plantings of Cistus (no signage mars the scheme, so my minimal info will have to suffice).

long borders of Cornus

Long borders of red twig dogwood

variegated red twig dogwood

…must be equally striking once the branches are bare.

grasses and liriope

Here’s a long border of grasses fronted by liriope.

decomposed granite paths

On this northern end of the park, the paths are made of crushed decomposed granite.

fountain

The fountain was not operational on this day, but each of those (rubber) pads has a spout. I can imagine it will be a powerful draw on sunny, hot days.

liriope

Liriope used alone.

lamps

One of several styles of lamps, with the tram in the distance. I want to visit this park sometime after dark to see the effect of the lighting.

wind-activated music makers

…and again on a windy day to hear the music

lunch spot

Lunch?

sculpture/bench

Not all benches look the part.

dressed-up trash cans

Even the trash cans get the royal treatment. Let me leave you with a few shots of the featured plants and invite you to check out this park at 3508 SW Moody Ave if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

cedars

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Hydrangea quercifolia

snowberry

a view from the tram

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

the pod from the ground

Every time we drive by the overhead tram in the south waterfront district I get the itch to experience it first hand. When I found myself with time on my hands, I decided to do just that.

lower station

All of the support structures at the base station are delightfully space age-y.

close-up of pod

The pod itself is sleekly aerodynamic, with plenty of windows to take in the view.

view from above

And quite the view it is…especially with the aerial perspective of a foggy day.

bumpy ride

Be forewarned: the car swings wildly as it passes through the towers. It was enough to knock me off my feet, but the crowd was packed in so tightly that an embarrassing pratfall was avoided. I did miss some good photo ops, though.

top station viewing platform

At the top terminal there is a bridge to a viewing deck.

terraces and roof gardens

Look at all those terraces and roof gardens. I find it so encouraging to see health care facilities incorporating gardens into their buildings (this is Oregon Health Sciences University on what has long been referred to as “Pill Hill”).

drinking fountain

Sculptural elements have been incorporated into the gardens.

raven

frog

city view

Another view looking down at the city’s east side, across the Willamette River.

return trip

Time for the return trip and once again becoming earthbound. If one has business with the hospital, the trip is free. I was happy to pay the $4, and once they determined that I was a sightseer, they positioned me right by the front windows for the best view and steered me to the points of interest on both ends of the round trip. This immediately shot to the top of my tour for out of town visitors…most especially my cousin Billy, who has always longed to fly. I then took a walk around the new gardens around the lower terminal, but will save that for another time.

the Hoyt Arboretum

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

a typical view

Covering 187 acres of Portland’s West Hills, Hoyt Arboretum is a living museum where joggers, dog walkers, lovers, strollers, photographers and, first and foremost, tree lovers can immerse themselves in nature any day of the year.

lots of cars

Sunday brought a break in the weather, so people were out in force. The parking lot was full and cars were parked all along Fairview Blvd. Still, with 12 miles of trails, it never felt crowded.

entry palms

The visitors’ center is not open on Sunday, but there are pamphlets available with maps, etc., and a large informational board showing which trails offer the optimum experience season by season. For autumn, the Maple Trail is recommended, but first we had a look around the entry plantings. It always seems a little odd to me to see zonal denial plants like palms and agaves in public spaces (like the train station, much as I like the plantings), but the arboretum proper features trees from all over the world, so I guess the patchwork in the entry makes a certain amount of sense.

rocky berm

This rocky berm might have slipped right by me had not Loree posted about crevice gardens a while back. I don’t know if this can go by that name because those had plants tucked in here and there. This one is all rocks.

pot with evergreens

Several large planters break up the space.

Pseudopanax ferox

When one of the pots sports an unusual plant like this Pseudopanax ferox

Pseudopanax ferox signage

there is detailed signage to tell all about it.

crape myrtle

The same system held elsewhere: ordinary stuff went unidentified, but anything out of the ordinary was well documented.

flaming color

 On our way to the Maple Trail, we passed through an area planted entirely with natives, but I was saving my sputtering battery for the colors of autumn.

closer color

The color was slightly more intense, but this is pretty close.

long view with bright tree

The long views were splendid, and with well-placed paths and rolling hills there was a new vista around every turn.

copse

See what I mean?

fog

Parts of the landscape were enveloped in pockets of fog.

family and sumac

This little family was capturing memories backed by the flaming foliage of sumac.

Acer sign

Since the arboretum was established in 1928, there are many magnificent old trees with signage affixed to their trunks. More recent additions, like this paperbark maple, are marked by small stone pillars bearing pertinent information.

Acer griseum bark

OK, so some helpful graffiti artist took exception to the Acer griseum designation (did you notice the “not a” scratched onto the sign?), but one look at this peeling bark should be enough to set him/her straight.

Acer griseum leaf

Here’s the leaf of the above tree. Color, leaf shape, interesting bark: all have me convinced that this is one to hunt down for the R&R Ranch.

Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense

And while I’m in the market for more red, how about the color of those leaves recently fallen from Acer pseudosieboldianum var. tatsiense?

tatsiense tree

And here is the tree itself. As you can see, we decided on this outing in the nick of time to catch the tail end of the color show. There are plenty of other reasons to visit the arboretum in all seasons and all kinds of weather. Next trip: evergreens, or maybe just a brisk walk unencumbered by camera. If you happen to come away with a wish list, a good place to start your search would be Plant Lust. I usually just carry around my desiderata, waiting for one of my coveted beauties to show up. This particular tree seems to deserve a more concerted effort on my part.