Friday, April 30, 2010

Leach Botanical Gardens and plant sale

There are still so many amazing places we need to explore here in Portland. I’d heard of the Leach Botanical Gardens but never made it a priority to visit. Then I saw an ad in the paper for their spring plant sale last weekend, and, well I am a sucker for a plant sale. It used to be that I had 4 sales lined up on my calendar every spring but since Recycled Gardens closed and the Berry Botanical Gardens stopped having their spring sale it’s been down to just 2, the HPSO Sale and Rare Plant Research.
I talked my husband into checking out the Leach BG sale, I think mainly because afterward we would make the trek to the gardens. The sale was held at a Jr High School. Always nice when a sale is undercover on a day that is threatening showers!
The cafeteria transitioned well, lots of tables for the displays…although the lighting was so low that your eyes hurt trying to look at the plants. Have you ever noticed how freaky green plants appear under this sort of lighting?

Syneilesis made another triumphant appearance at this sale, just like it did at the Portland Chinese Garden Plant Sale back in March. People were swarming all around it.
The Cobra Lilies were putting on a show, and everyone had to stop to look at these too.Northwest Cactus & Succulents had a big table at the sale, and I have to admit this is where I spent most of my time.
I immediately spotted a sizable Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' I’ve wanted one of these for SO LONG this one would do nicely! (on the right)…
Also at their table an unmarked Red Aloe, had to have it…
And two little tiny catci which you can’t even hardly see in the above picture but were so cool! At the Leach table I grabbed a double Puya coerulea v violaceae for only $5!
And simply because nobody else seemed to want it an Agave cupreata dwarf cowthorn for $7. That was the great thing about this sale…AWSOME deals on a few special spiky plants. The Leach Botanical Gardens are pretty Oregon Native specialized so I don’t think most people at the sale were really focused on the exotics. So I was able to pick up a few fabulous plants for a song!Done with the sale and off to tour the garden…I wish I had enough room to let Maidenhair ferns grow like this in my garden.
The small leaves are Vancouveria hexandra, I never did find a label for the big leaves.
Amazing Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Smilacina stellata or star-flowered Lily of the Valley
Variegated Lily of the Valley
There was a nursery set up but empty of people on the afternoon we were there. Perhaps everyone was at the plant sale.
I know this style of trough planter has a name, but right now I can’t remember it. There were several. I wonder if they make them here at the garden?
This stump confuses me. Normally when a tree is cut and the stump remains you see the cut wood. You can count the rings. Not here…it’s grown over with bark.
I’ve never seen anything like this. You?
And a sexy Manzanita. Yes, I will continue to call these ‘sexy’ as long as they have that amazing bark.Lilla Leach was an accomplished botanist; she and her husband John Leach devoted their land to their fascination with plants. This is the garden courtyard area to the rear of their home, which is now rented out for weddings and other events.
Johnson Creek runs through the garden property…
This stone building sits on the opposite side of the creek from the house. We were told that it was built earlier than the home and the Leach’s used it for “camping” before the main home was built. Not to shabby!
Their patio for dining…
And the fireplace for making smores and telling ghost stories.
Luckily the rain held off until we finished exploring.


  1. Good sale, I didn't realize it would be so big, and indoors too. I guess I missed out. Looks bigger than the one at the Japanese Garden. I got that Arisaema utile at the last sale. It has since leafed out and bloomed and looks fantastic.
    I believe the big leaves are Achlys triphylla, or Vanilla leaf. I don't have one yet but I feel like I need one. Sometimes they have them for sale at the Leach Garden, at a little stand of plants right outside the front door. Are those hypertufa containers?

  2. Well that's a place to visit the next time I'm down. Your right the Manzanita is sexy. No doubt. What a beautiful garden.

  3. Hi Loree and thanks for the memories! That stone house was ancient 20+ years ago when I saw it. And, if you can believe this, I'm almost positive the mysterious stump was there too!!

    I'm curious how much the Syneilesis were going for. I found one at Garland for a mere $35.00!! I'm pretty sure it will be there on each of my future visits as well and hopefully, eventually end up in the sale area.

    Love that red aloe!! Good eye!

    Tomorrow morning is the Benton County MG plant sale. I'm stoked. Not that I need anything....

  4. Looks like you found some good buys. I love that courtyard and especially that "camp site".

  5. I miss a good plant sale. I haven't really found any good ones since I moved (and I've checked out a LOT of them. I guess it'll take more than one season to find them).

    The odd tree "stump" reminds me of cypress knees. Did you get an ID on that tree?

  6. I had that sale on my calendar for months, then it somehow dropped off my radar. Now I'm really sorry - it could have been pretty good for me, and for Mr. Mulchmaid with all those natives.
    Interesting to see Leach growing tetrapanax - somehow I wouldn't have expected it. I'm glad you got to visit the garden. I haven't been in awhile and you remind me I need to go again soon.

  7. Damn... wish I was close enough to go!

  8. Looks like they had some great plants!

  9. Sounds like a good year
    I didn't see any bananas at Means-didn't go into the under cover area. They had small red Cannas for $ that cheap, I passed then by I've killed two already...

  10. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    That plant sale looked pretty sweet. Matti

  11. Are those containers called hypertufa? I keep hearing that term but have never seen one! I almost bought a Synelesis, small one, at the plant sale here but passed it up. Dang, another one I wish I had room for! Looks like you got some good sale steals and that euphorbia is nuts! In a good way. The Leach garden is going on my ever-lengthening list of Portland plant places to visit someday. The stone cabin is super cool!

  12. oh wow I think that Vancouveria hexandra may be the mystery indoor plant I've been salivating over at the pricey nursery....

  13. Hi Loree, you photographed one of my favorite native herbs, vanilla-leaf (Achlys triphylla - that's the pic with the Vancouveria hexandra). It's very adaptable to dryish shade and oh what lovely leaves. Great pictures of the sale - I missed it but it was really nice to go vicariously with you.

  14. Leach is a swell place for an event, especially for people like us.

    Hypertufa it is, and I believe they have workshops where you can make them. I made some once following a recipe in a garden magazine. It was super-messy, but not at all difficult.

  15. Megan, I was a little surprised too (at the size)...who knew? Positive id on the vanilla leaf, and it's now on my lust list. The selection by the gift shop at the gardens was pretty slim, I'm sure all the good stuff was at the sale and gone by the time we managed to get there. Except for the spiky good stuff!

    Laura, yea! I'm glad you agree about the Manzanita! what did you buy at the Benton County MG sale? The Syneilesis was (I think) $12.50...which was about $4 more than it was from the same vendor at the Chinese Gardens sale.

    Les, ya can you even imagine that being your family campsite get away! Heaven.

    Diana, no tree id! I don't know what I would do if we moved. It was fairly easy to fall in sync with the plant sales here in Portland. Back in Spokane where I moved from there were only 2 but they were good. Now I guess they've added a couple more. Good luck finding your good ones!

    MulchMaid, I too was surprised to see the Tetrapanax. Maybe when you visit again they will have restocked the plants for sale by the gift shop!

    Dirty Girl, too bad we can't arrange vacations around plant sales!

    Megan, for sure. I'll be back again next year.

    linda, no, I wouldn't call $20 cheap...sounds kind of expensive!

    Matti, not as sweet as some of the ones you guys have been to, but pretty fine.

    Karen, yep...hypertufa! What an odd word! So when you finally visit Portland again you'll need what like 2 weeks?!

    Mary C, pricey is it?

    Kate, so do you have vanilla-leaf in your garden?

    ricki, I keep thinking I'm going to make a leaf print clay thing (great with the names aren't I?) with one of my Tetrapanax or Gunnera leaves...messy but cool. Maybe that will be a good summer project when it's too hot to plant.

  16. I think you'll find vanilla leaf in the natives section of most good nurseries (like pdx nursery) in the spring, anyway. I had it in my old garden over in your neighborhood but not this one... yet.

  17. Did you ever learn the name of the red Aloe?

    1. Aloe divaricata - not so red always.

    2. Thanks! Mine doesn't ever get even close to being that red! Hopefully someday there will be a nice big year-around red tree Aloe.


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