Archive for the ‘road trips’ Category

cooling off

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Indian Beach

Just looking at this photo makes you cooler, doesn’t it? As temperatures soared in Portland yesterday, we beat a hasty retreat to the coast, just a short drive away.

Astoria

First stop, Astoria, where it was still hot. We found a breezy outdoor cafe where we could fuel up on good coffee and a pastry and do a some people watching (lots of interesting, artsy types around Astoria).

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A little bit south, entering Cannon Beach, we decided to take a side trip to Ecola State Park. At the pay station we were advised to go first to Indian Beach to avoid the gathering crowds and a long wait to gain entrance. This is what we found: aaah…cooling off already. There were photographers everywhere, intent on capturing that perfect shot  of the ocean spray as the surf crashes on the rocks. I’m afraid it was beyond my humble talents.

surfers

Surfers were out in force. Such fun to watch, as they catch the occasional perfect wave…and wipe out on others.

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Sandcastles, anyone?

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The beach is surrounded by primeval forest and hiking trails that connect to the Pacific Coast Trail…another day, perhaps.

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Further down the coast, we stopped in Garibaldi, where a long rock jetty extends far out into the bay.garib076.jpg

Driftwood piles up on the shore. One nice piece came home with us. It’s that whole beachcombing thing.

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I know…you want to know about the plants. Some really tough customers were growing and blooming right there in the beach sand. Crocosmias were popping up everywhere, not only in gardens. I’m guessing they were escapees. I’ve always been impressed by the way Phormiums grow at the coast but this year they were looking a bit tattered (still living though, and huge). Asters were just coming on. They will be putting on quite a show in a week or so, and fireweed and Spirea douglasii were growing along the roadsides.

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Beach grasses are tough as nails and seem to know that placing themselves close to sinuous driftwood will show them off to advantage. By this time, the fog was rolling in and it was time to seek out a nice meal with a view of the ocean (I almost like it best shrouded in fog) before heading for home, exclaiming “why do we not do this more often?”

gardenpalooza and more

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I was exhausted from the mad scramble to get the digging and planting and weeding under control ahead of the rain. Not too tired to contemplate a little road trip though.

paths to palooza

First up, GardenPalooza. See what a party atmosphere they created by delineating pathways from parking with rows of pumpkins punctuated by hay bales and sheaves of cornstalks? Jenni posted about it here, but unfortunately we were there at different times of the day so our paths did not cross.

back of main tent

This is the back side of the main tent protecting vendors from the vagaries of the weather.

evergreens

Displays spilled out into the open and into other buildings on the grounds.

farmstand goods

Big bins of farmstand produce and a small cafe with freshly baked goods rounded out the offerings.

garden banners

Of course I was drawn to the banners on display. One bore a sold sign…maybe garden banners are catching on?

Postlewaite Nursery

Rather than head back onto the freeway, I opted for back roads. This little nursery does not even appear on the OAN retail nursery map, but there it was, beckoning to me by the side of the road. It exudes a funky charm (and a spirit of trust, since everything was right out in the open with no one around). Center stage, that plant stand is a sheet metal planter inverted to serve another purpose.

planters

Several more were on sale. That one front right was $55.00 with an extra sticker for an additional 10% off. I thought that sounded like a pretty sweet deal.

dahlia fields

My loose plan was to wend my way to Al’s Garden Center, as I’ve never been there, but then I beheld this sight.

dahlia fields forever

Dahlia fields forever…surrounding Swan Island Dahlias at the very peak of their season.

Dahlia ‘Maarm’

Three rows of each variety stretch as far as the eye can see, with clear labeling at the head of each row.

Dahlia ‘Molly Ann’

I realized, when I started sorting through the photos, that I was drawn to the reds and oranges. ‘Molly Ann’ is quite tall, and such an electric red that it burns out in the photo.

Dahlia ‘Bed Head’

The tousled look of ‘Bed Head’ earns it its name, and get a load of those dark stems.

Dahlia ‘Giggles’

I keep apologizing for the photos, but it was hard to capture the full effect, especially here with ‘Giggles’ that was actually an orange sherbet/lavender/purple combination that fairly danced before my eyes and had the bees giggling all over them.

Dahlia ‘Gingeroo’

‘Gingeroo’ comes off better, with its geometric pattern in a tight, medium-sized ball.

Dahlia ‘Lights Out’

The deep deep red, almost black flowers of ‘Lights Out’ come on a quite low growing plant, which makes it easy to see the way the rows are hilled up. I have to stake dahlias, but here I noticed that even the heaviest blossoms had rarely drooped or broken off, and this after a heavy rain. I was told that they begin early and come back often to pile soil up against the growing stalks of the plants, eliminating the need for staking (on this scale, staking would be a monumental task).

Dahlia ‘Nick Sr’

This is a family operation, and there are several namesakes, like this ‘Nick Sr’.

Dahlia ‘Nicholas’

I’m assuming ‘Nicholas’ is one of Nick Sr’s progeny.

memorial for Nick Sr

The love just keeps coming with this memorial fountain and pool for Nick Sr at an intersection of rows of his beloved dahlias. He must have been quite a guy.

Trial Garden

A section near the house is given over to trial gardens. The catalog indicates that a good number of the dahlias offered originated here.

koi pond

Even the fishes fit in with my color scheme.

more banners

And lookee here…more banners! This is a good time to take a spin out to Swan Island Dahlias in Canby to see these flamboyant blooms in real life. Often people stash all of their dahlias in a single bed. I call this the fruit salad approach. It is gaudy and not terribly attractive, but if seen as simply a cutting garden it makes a certain amount of sense. At Heronswood, they tucked them into borders here and there with spectacular results, but then Heronswood operated on a different plane that most of us even aspire to. I resolve, here and now, to struggle in that direction with the intent of keeping the bouquets coming and the borders aglow from mid-July through first frost. I picked up a catalog and am making a list and checking it twice.

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.

Dancing Oaks Open House

Monday, February 25th, 2013

the approach to Dancing Oaks Nursery

We had dinner at Cuvée Friday night and spent the night in Carlton. The next day, my friend Susan and I headed even further into the countryside to visit Dancing Oaks Nursery. I had only been there in high summer and Susan had never seen the place. It is far FAR off the beaten path, but well worth the trip through gorgeous countryside. The above scene is the one that greets you as you approach the nursery. Having driven through pounding rain, we were heartened to see the skies clear.

a spiky greeting

Nothing like a spiky greeting to get things off to a good start.

one of the hoop houses with resident cat

Where to start? We followed our noses through several hoop houses jam-packed with plant life, and in this case overseen by one of the many cats who rule here (see him stretched out over the door at the far end?).

magnolia Michelia yunnanensis

Most of the plants under cover are well marked, like this Magnolia.

the Magnolia itself

Here is the plant that goes with the label. Isn’t it a beauty?

Tibeuchina

It was the red leaves that attracted me, but knowing that this is a Tibouchina lets me know that velvety flowers are its real calling card.

Tibeuchina

Nice to know that it has another season in which to shine.

a touch of humor in the hoop house

Can you tell that the people here have a lot of fun doing what they do?

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Having combed through the greenhouses, it was time to stroll around the grounds. Still stripped down to winter bones…

white barked trees (?)

sporting their own spare beauty. I neglected to ask about these trees, but I love them.

art in the garden

This is a good time to appreciate the garden art sprinkled about.

glass fish art

This colorful glass fish is nestled in grasses bordering a pond.

grasses and cat tails

Across the pond, grasses and cat tails have been allowed to dry in place.

rill feeding the pond

A little rill feeds the pond and serenades us all.

fence around pond

A rustic fence surrounds the rill, with seating nearby.

rough wooden structure

Transitioning to the pergola is this rough wooden structure.

Edgeworthia

Standing sentry at the entrance to the pergola, an Edgeworthia is just beginning to come into flower.

looking through the pergola

It will become a dark tunnel when things leaf out, but the sun plays peek-a-boo now, as we head down the path through the pergola.

large pot at tunnel’s end

Looking back the way we have come, a large pot catches the light and beckons to us.

weeping blue atlas cedar

A weeping blue Atlas cedar has been trained up one upright and allowed to weep down from above.

Eucalyptus berm

Some newer looking berms act as a buffer between the cultivated garden and the natural areas beyond. The star of this berm is this Eucalyptus, while beyond Agaves, Opuntias and Yucca reign.

Iris r. ‘Pixie’

A few flowering plants have broken dormancy to bejewel the landscape. These Iris r. ‘Pixie’ are joined by Hellebores
Gaultheria

and random clumps of snowdrops.

Agave, rain chain and bowl

At the pavilion, where goodies were being served, I loved this arrangement of pots, one holding a dramatic Agave, another filled with rocks to receive the runoff captured by the rain chain.

willow chairs

Don’t these willow chairs tempt you to sit a while and bask in those rare rays of sunshine?

blue pots

As we wandered, refreshed, back towards the sales shack, I couldn’t stop clicking away. Here’s another of many rain chains, this time hanging from a tree branch. Pots are used throughout the garden as containers and as stand-alone sculptural pieces.

Magnolia buds about to burst

An ancient looking magnolia stellata seems to be saying “Come back soon and see me strut my stuff”.

valley view upon leaving

You would be doing yourself a disservice if you hurried away without indulging in some chit chat with the owners of this edenic corner of the world. Here’s the view out over the valley as we reluctantly bid adieu. I know you will want to know what came home with me, but that will come in a later post. I have used restraint at each stop on this spring’s buying spree, but the plants are piling up. I will soon need to deal with them, and then all will be revealed…I promise.

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.

a visit to Idaho

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Kath & John’s house in Orofino

Our drive to Orofino ID was a forced march. As usual, we got a late start and finally arrived in the dead of night. Next day dawned bright and clear and I headed out with my camera to take a look around.

veggie garden with deer fence

This is a place where the deer must be taken seriously. Hence the elevated vegetable garden surrounded by a sturdy fence.

closer look

squash blossoms

The neighbor up the hill has horses…which accounts for the vitality of the veggies-on-steroids.

cabbages

beans and squash

Vegetarian Nirvana, and the start of some mighty fine meals for the rest of us, too.

barn plantings

Outside the fence, plant selection must take the deer into account. Barberries, opium poppies and iris are pretty successful. Bishop’s weed covered this area along the side of the barn for years, until some of the herd developed a taste for the stuff and wiped it out in one short season. Maybe they could rent them out?

Clearwater River from front yard

The beautiful Clearwater River rushes by the front of the house.

Allen pond

Plus, there is a small pond on the property.

chickory and thistle among grasses

Nature does a swell job of landscaping on most of the land. Here, chickory and thistle punctuate tall grasses with splashes of blue.

our apartment

We were visiting R’s sister Kathryn and her husband John. Here is the entry to the lower level of the house, where we had our own apartment. They should be careful about making guests so very comfortable.

main entry

This rather grand entry was part of the latest remodel. They bought a little, nondescript house on a blank piece of land when they were first married and have been remodeling, in stages, ever since. With this last round, the house almost lives up to its “location, location, location!” Now they’re starting on the barn.

falling down barn

On the return trip, we got an early start so that we could dawdle along. The hay inside looks to be the only thing holding up this falling-down barn. When we pulled up, a couple of horses were nibbling through the openings.

old fashioned windmill

Up the hill from the barn (one of many old barns that are sinking back into the landscape) sits an old fashioned windmill…

new-fangled windmills

while looking down the road, you can see the new-fangled versions marching across the hillsides. I love these things. I know many people consider them a blot on the landscape, but they are so slim, so aerodynamic, so space-agey. To my eye, they take very little away from the scenery. If you squint, you can barely see that they are there.

camel

I don’t know what this guy was doing here amid the cows, horses, sheep and buffalo, but he definitely got our attention.

ghost town?

Ghost town? Movie set? What do you think?

lavender fields forever

Just on the outskirts of the charming little town of Waitsberg we spotted a lavender farm. I would have called it Lavender Fields Forever, but they went for Lavenders R Us, and yep, that R was backwards on the sign.

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But a cheesy sign could not detract from undulating seas of lavender, interplanted with a few xeric companions like Echinops & Achillea

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lavender4

Oh, to be a bee.

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unknown cedar

Can anyone identify this shrub we found as we bid the lavender fields goodbye?

cedar close-up

A Close-up provides a little more to go on.

Walla Walla

When I was in France, many years ago, everyone knew about Walla Walla WA because of the Pogo cartoons. Remember “Walla Walla wash and Kalamazoo”? Now it has a new claim to fame as the center of a rapidly growing wine center. In a town full of old brick buildings, this one faced with glazed tiles stood out.

roadside stand

And then we were back in Oregon. Time to stop at a roadside stand to pick up some Hermiston melons and Walla Walla Sweet onions. The last leg of our journey took us through the Columbia River Gorge, where my puny photographic skills had no chance of capturing the majesty of the scenery. Great trip! Good to be home!

Rowena Plateau wildflowers in early April

Friday, April 20th, 2012

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

???

tiny???

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.

bamboo garden birthday

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Yesterday was R’s birthday. I asked him what he would like to do, fully expecting a visit to the Portland Art Museum and/or galleries around town. But no, he wanted to take a trip out to Bamboo Garden in North Plains. One of these days, we must take this little drive on a beautiful day…which yesterday surely was not.

driveway of Bamboo Garden

But no matter what the weather, coming to this 20 acre bamboo haven just outside Portland, Oregon is a treat.

bamboo forest

Here’s a little closer look at that bamboo forest behind the fence that greets you as you drive in.

bamboo fence

Of course the fence is fashioned from bamboo canes.

outdoor hanging bamboo sculpture

…just the first of many imaginative uses in evidence. This woven piece hanging in the trees is probably close to 25′ long.

bamboo doorway

Pass through this doorway and you will find more…

bamboo sphere sculpture

like this woven sphere hanging in a greenhouse filled with an assortment of potted bamboo

hanging tillandsias

and even some Tillandsias.
bamboo pod sculpture

On the warehouse side hangs this pod sculpture woven from bamboo

poles of all lengths and diameters

Just in case you can’t wait for your own bamboo forest to produce the materials you need, that warehouse is chock-a-block piled high with poles of every length and diameter.

propagation

Plus a propagation area with tables full of tiny starts just getting underway.

our guide

Once we had met our guide and described to her our needs.

electric cart

we were invited to hop aboard one of the electric carts, and away we went…

clump of bamboo

past clumps

mixed bamboo border

along mixed borders and through forests

pond and greenhouses

all the way to the bottom of the property, where extensive greenhouses overlook a large pond.

signage

The signage is clear and informative, but hardly necessary because our guide kept up a running commentary, with stops along the way so we could take a closer look at anything that tickled our fancy. We were after timber bamboo, and we wanted something that would spread quickly (we’re no spring chickens, after all). Since we have managed to kill our last two trials, we opted to take home only one tub of the recommended Phyllostachys vivax. We left armed with two care sheets and a lot of verbal support for our efforts. If all goes well, we will definitely be back to give P. atrovaginata a try. Nicknamed “incense bamboo” the canes smell just like lemongrass when chafed.

Sasa veitchii

Sasa veitchii is another that will haunt my dreams until I can get back there and claim a pot of it to introduce as ground cover. Couldn’t have had a better birthday if it had been my own.

cold days, warm wishes

Monday, December 26th, 2011

frosty evergreen

Jane, the Mulchmaid suggested that this would be a good Christmas card image, and I agree. So…I am sending it out to all of you, who have enriched my life in the year that is drawing to a close. I wish you well…more than well…I wish you joy! It can’t get much better than that, and you deserve the very best.

heat wave - Rooster Rock

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Rooster Rock is a huge park just outside Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. I can’t believe that I have lived here most of my life and had never been there. It was not for want of trying: the place fills up pretty fast on weekends and holidays. When our friends suggested a picnic in the middle of the week it was one of those “Aha!” moments.

the Columbia River

This is the view from our picnic spot looking down at the river (the hills rising on the other side are in the state of Washington).

vista lookout

Looking the other way, across the parking lot (see! no cars!). Despite temperatures in the mid-nineties, we had the place nearly to ourselves except for a gaggle of nude sunbathers and the odd dog walker. For a truly scenic outing, one can take the old Columbia River Highway that winds past a number of waterfalls and to the top of that cliff in the distance, where there is a picturesque lookout with an incredible view of the gorge. Silly me: I failed to take a picture of the rock outcropping that gives this park its name (it looks like a giant rooster’s tail).

late afternoon

After a refreshing swim, we settled down, with our wine and all sorts of good things to eat, to watch the sunset.

later still

It just got better and better,

full-on sunset

The haze from nearby forest fires does wonderful things for sunsets…reminds me of sunsets seen from Griffith Park in Los Angeles when I lived there in the 60’s. A guilty pleasure, but it is beautiful.