Archive for the ‘places’ Category

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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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 used alone.


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



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.




Hydrangea quercifolia


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.



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.


See what I mean?


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.

Jockey Hill has a sale

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

all this for $14?

When Michelle does something, she does it in a big way. I know it’s hard to believe, but I came home with this haul for a whopping $14. Starting with the Hibiscus m ‘Plum Crazy’ on the left and moving counterclockwise, they are: a mystery plant I forgot to write down (Mayhew, a fruiting hawthorne with yummy berries…thanks Michelle), Rogersia ‘Bronze Peacock’, Tricyrtis hirta, Kniphofia multiflora, Crocosmia ‘Emily Mckenzie’, Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’, Ceanothus ‘Diamond Heights’, Callistemon sieberi syninym C pityoides, two little sedums and Grevilla ‘Audrey’.

Michelle with customers

That’s Michelle, on the right, deep in conversation, as she usually is, with customers. She is a plant person, and happy to share biographies and profiles of everything she grows.


Getting it all to the car is a snap with the help of a strong man and a gator.

Jockey Hill Nursery

Here’s a shot of the nursery (well, part of it), followed by a few scenes around the place.

tree-lined road

Heptacodium myconoides

plow disc sculpture

entry garden



Now, in case you live in the Portland area, and are beginning to get little annoyed with me for telling you all this after the fact…here’s the good part. She’s doing it again this Friday. Nestled in the hills above Highway 30, Jockey Hill is easy to find. Almost to Scappoose, there is a Shell station on the right. If you turned right you would end up at Mark’s on the Water. Instead, you will turn left and follow the signs to the sale. Michelle will also have plants at the final Scappoose Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

outdoor dining: catch it while you can

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Meriwether sign

I was meeting a friend for lunch. Our first choice was Tara Thai, where a magnificent heritage tree shades the large deck. As it turned out, they were closed Mondays. No problem…nearby is Meriwether’s, where you can tell from the outside somebody in charge cares about plants.

back gate

sidewalk borders

outdoor urns

tree sheltering deck

While no where near as dramatic as the heritage tree, there is no lack of leafy shelter for the large outdoor dining deck.

front entry

So in we went, asking for an outdoor table.

busy outdoor space

This is a popular fair weather destination, so I was glad we had planned on an early lunch. Best to get reservations if you plan to eat here.

upper level

There are varying levels of exposure to the sun, and the whole space is enclosed and shielded from the street.

inside urn

With plantings all around the perimeter and special touches like a pair of these giant urns flanking the entry and a gurgling fountain centrally located, it feels like a garden party (with a sound level to match, making quiet conversation a challenge). Meriwether’s maintains its own farm, so the salad greens are a wonder of crisp freshness (a little underdressed for my taste). This was a favorite haunt back when it was L’Auberge and then The Woodstove. This latest incarnation is less a culinary experience and more a place to revel in one of Portland’s rare perfect days.

The St Johns McMineman’s dome

Each McMenamins Theater Pub has its own character, while the signature funky/artsy approach is a constant. Their domed building in St Johns was moved here after doing duty at a Worlds’ Fair. The inside of that dome is paneled in wood and is where movies are shown.

unusual oak tree

The grounds are not as meticulously kept as at, say, the Kennedy School property, but this unusual oak lording it over the parking lot lets us know there is a plantsman afoot.



xeric plants

fire pit

The vibe here is casual/friendly. You can see that it makes Richard happy. The pub-grub is unremarkable and the spinach salad was swimming in dressing…best to ask for it on the side (am I hard to please, or what?)

mature specimens

Mature trees and shrubs create a nice sense of enclosure.

lots of texture

A variety of textures keeps it interesting.

unknown specimen

A few outstanding specimens were unknown to me. I loved this one.


I think that is a tamarack tree in the center of the above shot: something we don’t see every day. All of the foliage keeps this space cool and pleasant. No AC in the theater, but by nightfall it was time to take what was left of our beers inside to watch Snow White and the Huntsman (pure escapism).

Portlanders flock to outdoor tables the minute the sun comes out. I don’t really see the attraction of sitting on the sidewalk with cars rushing by. We needn’t settle for that with these two oases (and many others) offering leafy alternatives. Of course, a streetside seat on any corner of 23rd Avenue is prime real estate for people watching.

Thicket: a new garden store

Monday, August 13th, 2012

First off, my apologies to anyone who was shunted off to a sexual enhancement site when trying to visit sprig to twig. I just spent time on the phone with tech guru John (my hero) who somehow managed to undo the damage wrought by some hacker while my back was turned. Now on to the fun stuff.

sign at entrance

Finding myself in the general vicinity, I decided to drag Alberta Street and check out Thicket, a shop I had heard about. It is actually a little off of Alberta, on 23rd.

tabletop urns

As soon as I stepped through the gate, I knew this was a find. This tabletop display featured a pair of urns planted with succulents.

conifer corner

A small collection of conifers crowds one corner.


Everything looked very fresh, even on the hottest day of the year.

table with benches

This seating area in the shade was inviting.

tabletop garden

This one was in the sun, but the bright white and the cool greens of the tabletop gardens managed to create a cooling illusion.

trunk display

A small shed houses the business end, with some room for a few displays.

shel display

Hanging under the other end of that shelf was a group of hummingbird feeders that match my aesthetic.

hummingbird feeder

So of course I had to bring one home. I had to move it out under the trees, because the little nipple leaks sugar water. It remains to be seen what the hummers will think of it. They are preoccupied with fuchsias these days. This is by far the most pleasing to me, but the birds’ stamp of approval, so far, goes to the ugliest of all the models I have tried…they’re as bad as some clients back when I was a graphic designer.

Echeveria ‘Black Prince’

A nice selection of succulents tempted me out of my “no new plants until fall” stance, and I picked up this Echeveria ‘Black Prince’…

unnamed pale Echeveria

and this pale green one that was not labeled. In conversation with the manager, I learned that Thicket is only a couple of months old, and already they are eying the building across the street facing onto Alberta. I hope it works out. This is a business that deserves to grow and prosper. I encourage you to click on the link to their elegant web site (at the top of this post) and, if you are in the neighborhood, by all means stop by. You will find, in their words, “a charming tangle of botanical curiosities, found ephemera and modern craft to inspire life lived in the garden.”