a view from the tram

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.

Kalanchloe belhariensis

Elephant Ears

When I brought in the tender plants, the Elephant Ears, Kalanchloe behariensis surprised me. I bought it as a tiny thing several years ago. It had been sharing a pot with several other things that had begun to straggle. When I cut back its scruffy pot mates and took off the few lower leaves that were less than happy…Voila!

Elephant Ears up close

The texture of the huge leaves reminds me of a mohair couch my gram had years ago. It’s impossible to pass by it without caressing them. I hope they can stand up to all this love. I wish I had the photographic skill of some of you so you could see how remarkable this plant truly is. I think it deserves a name…any ideas?

Pop on over to Digging and let Pam introduce you to others with a passion for foliage with Foliage Follow-up. It happens on the 16th of every month, the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

bloom day banners

pair of floral spinnakers

Other than the few fuchsias hanging on, Mom Nature has provided me with nothing to show you for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. But when I’m not sowing flowers I am sewing them, so here are a couple of the floral series of Spinnakers standing in for the flowers of the horticultural kind. I call them Spinnakers because they flap in the wind and make that wonderful sound referred to in sailing circles as “luffing”.


This one is called ‘Pistil’. I started out by doing a series of four abstract flower banners on commission. They were a more typical banner shape to attach to a wall or post. I actually like the Spinnaker format because it can be free-standing and really takes advantage of any whiff of wind that comes along. I adapted two of the floral designs for my own use. The original designs are available in my Etsy Shop.


I call this one ‘Budding’. If you visit May Dreams Gardens, I’m sure Carol can point you to many gardens where the plants provide the flowers.

migration complete


Twice a year, spring and fall, the tender succulents get carted from one place to another. It’s the perfect time to give them a little extra attention with the help of some simple grooming tools. A sable paintbrush is good for brushing away debris that collects in crevices and leaf axils. A serrated steak knife will part pups from mother plants. I used to use tweezers to remove dead leaves from plants and pick detritus from gravel, but then I hit upon using these needle-nosed pliers. I’ll show you another picture of them so you can see how they curve at the end, making them far more useful. First, I want to draw your attention to the arrangement in the tea box that Patricia brought me when we had our last plant swap. It makes a great little hostess gift. There are always plenty of cuttings to be gleaned from succulents that have been growing happily outdoors all summer. Thanks, Pat: our pumpkin carving host is just getting into succulents, and was thrilled with this.

curved needle-nosed pliers

My current favorite tool

cozy new digs

I actually gave away a sufficient number of plants that most of the keepers fit by these east facing windows.

chest with plants

A few have spilled over to other surfaces. I do envy those of you with basements, garages and pavilions. Oh, well…what could be better than a lap full of cat, a cozy fire, a hot toddy, a good book and an embarrassment of plants?

the Hoyt Arboretum

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.

here’s what November looks like

leaves caught in cherry tree

This strikes me as the epitome of autumn: leaves settled in the crotch of the ancient cherry tree.

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’

As the leaves begin to fall from the Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, the quirky, taloned branches form a tracery through which the colors of the season can be glimpsed.

kousa dogwood

The Kousa dogwood is doing its bit as it rises from the golden arms of the Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’.

Callicarp ‘Profusion’ and Nandina

Not to everyone’s liking, but reds and purples is one of my favorite combinations: Beauty berry backed up by a common, low-growing form of Nandina.

Joe Pye Weed

Even in death, the Eutrochium nee Eupatorium (grrr) pleases my eye…

Eutrochium silhouettes

especially as seen silhouetted against a leaden sky.

Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’ silhouette

Speaking of silhouettes, how about Anemone ‘Honorine de Jobert’? The petals having fallen neatly away, we are left with perfect round balls.

Anemone balls

Here’s a less dramatic shot of Mme Jobert. The balls are shiny and green and provide a long-lasting element for late season bouquets.

‘Henry Eilers’

Some things are struggling to make a showing before frost hits. I don’t think ‘Henry Eilers’ is going to make it. He will be moved to a sunnier spot next spring.

Kniphofia multiflora

Kniphofia multiflora is giving Jack Frost a run for his money. I’m pulling for him.

hardy Aloe

I’d given up on this hardy Aloe long ago, but here it is, putting in its first appearance after hiding underground for a few years. Moral of story: never give up.

Phlomus russeliana

I never tire of the architecture of Phlomus russeliana. I will not cut these seed bearing stalks of pom poms until spring, and the whorls of leaves will hang on through the winter.


I spy the hips of Rosa ‘Dortmund’ through the stalks of Joe Pye. Have any of you made culinary use of hips?

Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’

I leave you with a peek at the last flowers holding on: Fuchsia ‘Golden Gate’. Where once there was a profusion, only a few intrepid die-hards remain. I love this season, how about you?