merry christmas to all

topiary tree

Last year we went with a live tree. This time I started with the metal topiary frame, wired on lots of lights: some twinklers and others not, then added my stash of saved-up dried allium and hydrangea blossoms. Doesn’t that Allium schubertii make a great topping for the tree?

topiary tree close-up

I ran off a few cornucopias on my trusty sewing machine and filled them with moss and poppy pods.

Now it is time to thank all of you for your friendship, your comments, your tips and for making me laugh and taking me to places where I will never set foot in real life. You are treasures. Have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope to see you back here in 2011.

northrup station

Need a place to put overflow visitors? Coming to Portland and wonder where to stay? Have I found a place for you.

wrapped pqlms

Driving west on Northrup, this is what stopped me in my tracks. The palm trees were wrapped in burlap against the winter chill, then wound with strings of lights. I must remember to go back at night to see the full effect.

sidewalk view

Once I got out of the car to snap a photo, I started noticing further detail. Looking down the sidewalk, you can see the line of palms with lush interplanting.


The signage at the entry is understated, but that is about the only subtle touch on this exuberant place.

entry pots

See what I mean? These bright orange pots can’t help but lure the curious.

window shopping

That would be me, of course. After this peek through the window, what choice had I but to go inside?

colorful chairs

The collection of chairs in the morning room is nothing short of Seussian.

chair up close

Many shapes, many colors, and a big bowl of colorful candy on each table. What a way to start the day with a smile.

grasses with palms

The plantings are a masterful blend of hardy tropicals and hardier tropical-looking natives.

more plantings

I am tempted to invite a bunch of out-of-town guests, just so we could avail ourselves of The Inn @ Northrup Station. Or maybe even book a staycation and spend a weekend there ourselves. We could take mass transit from the front door and do all the things we seem to put off until “some other day”.

you are invited

to our Pop-Up Gallery. We had so much fun the last time that we decided on an extended run Wednesday, December 15 through Sunday, December 19 from 11am to 6pm each of those days. Here is a sampling of what you will find:


One-of-a-kind, hand crafted furniture designed by Richard. This bench is just one example.

51 greenwich

Paper Capers from 51 Greenwich. Ellie makes fabulous note cards, gift wrap, wall art and gift items using exciting colors of soy-based ink on recycled papers.


Gift bags and decorator items from Banners by Ricki.


Paintings in several styles by Richard at artist-direct prices.

We would love to see you there, even if it is just to chat. Take NW 23rd St going North all the way to York, turn right on York and go to 22nd, turn right again and take 22nd to the corner of 22nd and Wilson. We are the corner house and garden on the right.

jamison square


I had to go to The Pearl to pick up my new glasses. The shop was across the street from Jamison Square (so named for a wonderful gallery owner no longer with us). On a cold winter’s day it still managed to look inviting, so I thought I would give you a tour.

fallen leaves

Fallen leaves made a lovely tapestry among the grasses.


Pulling back a bit shows how the grasses form a ring around the tree, with large rocks in the inner circle.


And here is the long view of the grove of birches dressed in their winter white.

holiday decor

The Christmas tree and giant packages sit atop the nozzles of a fountain that attracts many children during the summer months. I was a few minutes too late to catch a shot of a tiny pink-clad girl standing on tiptoe between the gift boxes. As darkness falls, the tree comes to life, covered with tiny blue twinkling lights.

jamison totems

At intervals along the western side of the park are modernistic totems.

totems close up

A close-up of one of the totems gives you a better look at the details. This one is in pastels. Others are bolder colors. All are appropriate, as Jamison began with a folk art gallery, then branched out to represent many local artists.

sushi bar

This sushi bar occupies the southeastern corner.

etched windows

Beautiful Japanese stylistic waves and fish are etched on the windows right at eye level for passing pedestrians. Hard to photograph, but I hope you can get the idea.

Portland is filled with little gems of parks like this. I hope to chronicle others in the year to come.

aloe ‘Carmine’

Making plans to visit Cistus Nursery this time of year can be a crap shoot. The appointed time arrived. It was cold. It was raining. It was super-windy. We went anyway. There were cars in the parking lot, but we were the only two people in sight. An assortment of umbrellas were thoughtfully placed near the door to the outside. We huddled under them and made the rounds (at a brisker pace than I have ever managed that circuit) before looking at each other and conceding that “maybe we should just come back on a nicer day”. The indoor spaces were crammed with interesting plants, as usual, so we lingered there for quite a while (it felt downright cozy compared to where we had just been).

aloe ‘Carmine’

This was Laurie’s first visit to Cistus, so she was following my lead. We both came away with one of these Aloe ‘Carmine’.

aloe ‘Carmine’ close-up

I seem to be gravitating to the Aloes of late. Look at those toothed edges in a deep pinkish orange…what’s not to love?

aloe ‘Carmine’ in pot

Seldom have I come away from that nursery with just one plant, but it opened up new possibilities. I immediately went shopping for just the right pot to set off its spotty, jagged beauty. I think I found it. Now TODAY would be a perfect day to visit Cistus. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. Since it is also my birthday, I might just mosey over there and indulge in one more plant. I’ll let you know.

succulent gardens

mother plants

If I see an unfamiliar succulent, I must have it. Each year, when their summer vacation outdoors comes to an end, they have overgrown their containers. That plant front and center is Ledebouria socialis. It has been divided so many times that wherever I go its offspring are in evidence. This year I rounded up all of the containers that I have been squirreling away and turned them into little succulent gardens.

Ledebouria socialis in box

It won’t take long for these little transplants to gain some presence. Don’t they look cute in this wooden wine box?


This metal box spent a lot of time in R’s studio, where it accumulated the patina of paint dribbles and drips, making it a fitting home for three Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi cuttings.

Haworthia attenuata ‘Zebra’

Good thing I like the look of little plants all in a row, because many of my available containers were oblong box shapes. The divisions here are Haworthia attenuata ‘Zebra’.

collection of succulents

Here is a little sampling of the mini-succulent gardens in a toddler’s cowboy boot, a bag balm tin, a tea tin, a dolmas tin and a tuna tin. The last two also served a stint in the painting studio. I’m thinking these will make nice little hostess gifts. They definitely need to find new homes elsewhere, because we are being driven out of the dining room by overwintering plants.