Jockey Hill has a sale

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

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

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.”

dare to visit the danger garden

Saturday was a scorcher. How fitting, then, to be invited into the danger garden, where Loree has long proclaimed her love of hot summer days and the plants that thrive in them.

in-ground Agave with Ceanothus

Leave it to my procrastinating self to arrive at mid-day, the worst possible time to get good photos. I have discarded most of the ones I took, but a few that are passable will give you an idea of Loree’s style…a very definite style with a point of view, a limited palette and a partiality for spiky plants. The entire front garden is mulched with gravel, a perfect setting and environment for the chosen plants. Here are an Agave and a Ceanothus.


mix of textures

Texture plays a big role here.

Rosa pteracantha

Look at the wicked thorns on that Rosa pteracantha. When the light is just right, they glow like they’ve been possessed by the Devil himself, gaining them passage into the Danger Garden, the only rose you will find here.

Black mondo grass & Eucomis

A row of Black Mondo Grass lines the front walk, backed by a row of Eucomis before giving way to a less formal arrangement. A hallmark of this garden is restrained exuberance.

staged pots with Phormium

With her prodigious collection of pots, she is able to stage vignettes like this whenever there is an opening. When I say that she uses a limited palette, I certainly don’t mean boring. The pots run to silvers and grays, with punches of chartreuse, orange and red. The house is painted a deep, chocolate brown, a color that shows it all off to the very best advantage.

alley to back yard

Even the VW bug sitting in the driveway seems to fit into the scheme of things, as we head past the potted veggies toward the back of the house.

Acacia provissima

The house color takes on different tones in different light, as here it provides the background for Acacia provissima

pot grouping with orange accents

See what I mean about the pots, and the bright accents?

wavy cement pots

more pots

square pots

wild looking agave in pot

lush tapestry of plants

A lush tapestry of plants surrounds the area…


and segues nicely into the sunken patio…

table top goodies & plants

where our hostess served up colorful and delicious refreshment in the style to which we had quickly become accustomed. We lingered and chatted and soaked up the ambiance…hellish temperatures be damned. If you have yet to discover the Danger Garden, a treat is in store for you, and it’s only a click away.

Stan’s garden

Stan and his garden

Here’s Stan, the gardening man, gesturing at his creation and declaring it to be out of control.

out of control? I think not!

Quite the contrary, I see a lot of control in the juxtaposition of plants of varying heights, colors and textures…and then there are the blooms!

variegated dogwood

First thing you see, driving up to the house, are two of these variegated dogwoods in a parking strip that is otherwise quite restrained, with the use of gravel and a few well-placed large rocks.

front yard 1

After which, let the wild rumpus begin.

sisyrinchium striatum

Sprinkled throughout the tapestry of plants, Sisyrinchium striatum ties the whole thing together and puts my lone specimen to shame. I am told, though, that if you have one, you will soon have many. Yay!

sissy with dust miller

Here it is again, cozying up to its pal, Dusty Miller…

sissy playing peek-a-boo

playing peek-a-boo with the greater garden behind…

sissy at the front steps

and introducing us to the steps leading to the front door.

ground level vignette

At ground level, little vignettes like this one keep it interesting. That little patch of bare earth is one of only a very few that I spotted.

overview with house

I like the way the color palette of the plants compliments the house.

one last shot

Here’s one last shot before I join the group on the deck for book club…

the Bookies

with just a glimpse of the back garden The Bookies are admiring from above. It is very different than the front garden, but every bit as interesting…a subject for another day. Oh, and once the dahlias begin blooming (there are lots of them) the front garden will have put on it’s party dress and be ready to wow us all over again.

dental implants???

front border

Our dentist’s office is in one of those typical suburban medical office buildings, but with a difference. The owner of the building is into plants.

more borders

Lush borders run all along the front, between the parking lot and the building.

side border

Along one side, this planter stuffed with daylilies is about to burst into bloom.


On the other side of that same walkway, hens and chicks spill over the stonework, with foxgloves and geraniums, among other things, filling out the bed.

back border

Around back, the steep slope is terraced, with enough repetition to give continuity, but a broad palette of plants to keep it interesting.

yes that’s bishop’s weed

And here is a good example of how we can be suckered into planting the evil bishop’s weed. It looks quite lovely here, don’t you think?

long view of back border

As seen here, it seems to be playing nice, but I intend to keep an eye on it to see if it begins to perpetrate acts of homicide on its neighbors.

shade border

Close to the building on that back side, where little light penetrates, hostas rule.


Even the stairs are softened with creeping sedums.


…taking you back up into the sunlight, where a terraced veggie garden is in the works.

view from second floor

Because of the steep slope, this is the view through the window of the waiting room on the second floor. There are no very unusual or interesting plants in this composition, but the overall impression is delightful, just the same. If anything can take the sting out of a visit to the dentist, this, for me, is it.

shopping: Concentrates, Portland Nursery, Means, Cistus (whew)

What would you do if you awoke to no electricity? Our first thought was “coffee”, so we headed for The John Cafe in St John’s (sorry, Din, but we wanted breakfast, too). This place whips up a mean omelet, the proportions of which are plenty to split and fuel two people to face the day. That accomplished, we decided to take a trip to Concentrates to check out their new digs and pick up a few things. This was a long drive out into the suburbs of Milwaukie, where they gained a lot of space but lost the funky vibe that was a big part of their charm. Well, the next thing to spring to mind was “plants!”. If we took a particular, circuitous route we could justify winding up at Portland Nursery on Division.

Cryptomeria japonica spiralis ‘Granny’s Ringlets’

Richard and I have very different taste in plants…which is OK, because we wind up with twice as many whenever we go shopping together. I love everything about this Cryptomeria japonica spiralis: its color, its form and especially its common name, ‘Granny’s Ringlets’. It will eventually reach ten feet, but right now it is no more than a foot high. My kind of gardening is a waiting game. Most everything I am attracted to would be far too expensive to purchase as an adult.The thing is, so much is going on in the garden that it hardly feels like waiting…more like “gosh, look how much THAT has grown while I was paying attention to something else.”

Populus tremuloides

R, on the other hand, is all for instant gratification, so it is a good thing that his taste runs toward the less exotic in plant material. He was after something that would soon provide some shade for the front deck. Remembering the effect of a grove of Quaking Aspen shimmering and golden in late summer at Black Butte, he sought out Populus tremuloides. I quite agree that it will be lovely to have, so maybe two heads really are better than one.

Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Gold’

Next stop: Means Nursery. We had agreed that a focal point was needed just as one turns into our drive. There is lots of gopher activity in that area, so several things had been tried, but failed…including a hawthorn tree that survived for six years before all of its roots were chewed away to leave the above-ground part lying on its side, dead and helpless. That was when the plan was hatched to encase the root balls of all new plants in wire cages before planting. That post is about four feet tall, but Italian cypresses grow fast, so ‘Swane’s Gold’ should make its presence known in good time. It will be a nice introduction and segue into the several regular deep blue ones that provide exclamation points throughout our landscape.

R was eager to get started planting, but I had only had my appetite whetted. Off to Cistus I headed.

the jungle look

First, a stroll around the grounds for inspiration. It’s a jungle out there, which suits me to a T.

unknown phormium looking good

On an overcast weekday with intermittent showers, I had the place to myself. By the time I was ready to call for help, I had forgotten to ask about this thriving Phormium. Clearly these guys have the magic touch.

monkey puzzle tree

This image will be stored away for when I start to worry about overplanting.

Araucaria araucana

Several Araucaria araucana have been woven into the landscape in close proximity to their neighbors. My monkey puzzle tree looks positively lonely by comparison.

trilliums with gravel mulch

Gravel mulch sets off trilliums every bit as nicely as woodland duff…never would have thought of it.

Ribes speciosum ‘Rana Creek’

Hanging over the path, these flowers caught my eye. When i found them in the sales area they turned out to be Ribes speciosum ‘Rana Creek’.

‘Rana Creek’ close-up

If you look closely, you will see that Rana is armed with very dangerous thorns.


I have always given my cardoons plenty of elbow room, but I like the way it is crowded into a border here.

rusted metal cattails

I like the restraint of just a sprinkling of garden art as we close in on the shopping experience.

metal fern cut-outs


Always the plants steal the show, especially when raised to new heights in a dramatic red container.

Echium candicans ‘Star of Madeira’

Just when I was beginning to think that I could take Echiums more or less in stride, I stepped into the greenhouse area of Cistus and there was thisEchium candicans ‘Star of Madeira’. Words fail me.

Yucca aloifolia ‘Spanish bayonet’

I bought this Yucca aloifolia, which I plan to put in the large green glazed pot (unusual for me to have an actual plan in mind…maybe R’s ways are rubbing off a little).

Buddlieja globosa

Buddlieja globosa will live in a pot for a while, with Sedum ‘Angelina’ spilling over the edge. Its eventual size is nine feet, and those knobby balls turn bright orange and are fragrant. Once Angie fills in a bit, I’ll show you this interim composition. I also came home with a couple of charming sedums that do not photograph well, at least with my limited skills. By the time I came across Disporum cantoniense ‘Night Heron’, I had blown my budget and could only justify a four inch baby. Visit The Danger Garden and scroll through this post if you want to see ‘Night Heron’ as it should be seen.

One would think that with all the visits to Cistus, and all the posts, it would begin to seem repetitive or boring, but it seems to be an entirely different experience with each visit. I know I will keep going back for more. Would you like to come along?

Rowena Plateau wildflowers in early April

The giant HPSO plant sale, renamed Hortlandia with a nod to the Peabody winning (WWTT) TV series ‘Portlandia’, which lifted its name from the sculpture on the Portland Building by Michael Graves (I know, I know…way more info than you need) has come and gone. Here is why I missed the first day: Saturday.

Bob n Laurie

Our good friends Bob and Laurie are avid wind surfers. Since the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the best, they built a house in Mosier to be closer to the wind, the sun and the river. We have had a standing invitation to visit, and when that Saturday dawned bright and sunny, off we went.

rock outcropping

If you have been following this blog at all, you know that I never met a rock that failed to capture my heart. The Gorge, then, is pure bliss. After visiting over snacks, we headed for Tom McCall Park, also known as Rowena Plateau, where many trails lead from the road to the cliff overlooking the river.

the Columbia River beyond the cliff

In the springtime, the main attraction is the parade of wildflowers strewn along the path. I made an effort to track down the names, with only moderate success. There is an informational board at the trailhead, but I was not equipped to take notes. Maybe next time.

Lomatium columbialum

Columbia desert parsley, or Lomatium columbialum



Later in the season, when the balsamroot comes along things get showy and bold, but now one must look closely to spot the dainty blossoms sprinkled here and there.

grass widow

The hand is there to steady the ‘Grass Widow’ for the camera, but it also gives you an idea of scale.

Fritillaria pudica

Yellow Bells, or Fritillaria pudica

So that, my dears, is what kept me from the first day of ‘Hortlandia’. Next, I will fill you in on what led to my second day of truancy.

downtown’s west end

I was meeting a friend who works at the Oregonian for lunch yesterday. I got there a little early and took a look around,

looking east - the University Club

Looking east, the old world charm of The University Club, backed by screaming modernism.


Standing on that same corner and looking west, this spanking new high rise houses the latest iteration of Gifford’s Flowers.

cut flowers on display

Talk about curb appeal! Masses of cut flowers are arrayed down the block.

forced forsythia branches

Forced branches of plum and forsythia reminded me to get out there and cut a few whips to bring into the house. For the first time here, the forsythia is large enough to sacrifice some of its new growth on the altar of home decoration.

unusual cut flowers

All of the expected posies are represented, but how often do you see things like ‘love-lies-bleeding’ on sale by the stem?

wreath on window

pussy willow wreath

Time to step through the door…who could resist?

a counter full of posies

Behind the counter, shelves and shelves of containers to strike any mood.

whimsical bud vases

Zeroing in on a pair of whimsical bud vases. The glaze on these is beyond matte, for a very unusual, soft impression.

succulents and tilandsias

One whole corner is given over to succulents and tillandsias. They are not labeled, but unlike most shops selling succulents, someone here is up on things and can tell you what they are.

looking into the work area

My impression was that the shop is much larger than it was in its former digs, but they said no, it is roughly the same. Everything now is out in the open, and you can look into the work area where creations are taking shape.

bud vase at home

Surely you didn’t think that I could leave without claiming one of those bud vases for my own?

bud vase from above

I love being able to pluck or purchase a single stem and have a way to show it off, especially in this time of relative scarcity in the garden. The snowdrops benefit from a closer look than they normally get in situ, and I don’t think I have ever fully appreciated them before bringing this one in to occupy my new vase.

Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’

I have been wanting a Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’ for ever so long.

Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’ up close

This one inflames my passion. I love the way the green at the base morphs into bright orange, with the new growth coming on in a bright shade of chartreuse.

Whenever I drive into town I have a list of errands to work into one trip, so off I went to Garden Fever in search of Castor Bean seeds. They always have charming sidewalk displays to greet shoppers and passers-by (who most likely turn into shoppers when they see what’s on offer).

tabletop pot of succulents

This time I was taken with the tabletop gardens. Notice, in this on, how the little bit of earth not covered by plants is mulched with purple glass. Inside the store, there are many choices of stones, gravel and other things you could use for topdressing to similarly dramatic effect.

pot with Corokia Cotoneaster

The tall ingredient here is Corokia cotoneaster, reminding me that I must give this plant another go…and maybe using it in a pot is the road to success (I’ve killed two of them already).

sweet little pot

Last I’ll show you a sweet little pot crammed with blooming heather, cascading sedum ‘Angelina’ and a tuft of a grass I failed to identify.

my purchases

No castor beans (uhoh, guess I will have to put my pocketbook in jeapordy with a return trip soon) but the unusual penstemon ‘Chocolate Drop’ and a new (to me, at least) zinnia ‘Red Spider’ from a source I haven’t seen before: Plants of Distinction, UK, with no website, came home with me, as did sweet pea ‘Singing the Blues from Botanical Interests. My assignment to myself is to get some seeds started this weekend. I usually put it off longer than I should. The tubular ceramic pieces in the upper right of the photo are destined to become segments in a totem I have in mind. With any success, you will see it here.

beauty on Belmont

remodeled office & landscaping

Wandering around on the east side of the river the other day, I came across this. The building was once one of those nondescript hunks of nothingness, contributing only negative vibes to the ambiance of the street.

the entry walk

A light remodel and spiffy colors brought the building into the 21st century,

another view

But it is the landscaping that does the heavy lifting when it comes to the “Whoa! Look at that!” reaction. I should have taken a photo from the end to show the way the plantings of grasses and lavender are arranged in rows, with small deciduous trees spaced regularly throughout. I suspect they will be cutting things back soon. So glad to have happened upon it in all its billowing glory.

close up of wall

The undulating cement retaining wall and the rounded clumps of grass are a nice counterpoint to the straight lines of the building and the planting grid.

by the alley

An alley runs between the building and its neighbor (you can see the neighboring building as a backdrop here). The planting strip there takes a more casual approach, utilizing the same plants, with a few additions, scattered more haphazardly along a dry creek bed of river stones. I will definitely be back to see it when the trees leaf out and the lavender blooms. I love the Calvin Klien-ish collection of neutrals, but when it changes into its new clothes I’m sure it will be a new kind of beautiful…and fragrant, too. If you want to see it for yourself, go to E Belmont, right across from the Grand Central Bowl.

As John Lennon warned “Life is what happens while we are making other plans”. Thus I did not make it to the Yard Garden & Patio Show as planned, but I can direct you to two outstanding bloggers who can show you and tell you all about it. Just visit Loree and/or Scott for a ringside seat with a dollop of editorializing.