Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walking Alberta Street

Alberta is a gentrified, yet still a little rough around the edges, street of art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars in NE Portland. We live close to this stretch of urban interest and frequently visit a few the businesses, but we’ve been missing out on much of it. To really see it we needed to walk it…the whole thing…from the beginning at (roughly) 7th Ave to the end at (roughly) 31st Ave. Last weekend we did it.
If I had to assign a gardening theme to the street it would be stock tanks and Euphorbia. It seems every block of the entire stretch has multiple examples of both.
There are also many fine examples of rusted metal artwork, like this gate at the Tin Shed…a restaurant where you can set outside in the wintertime warmed by a fireplace and blankets…and your dog is welcome too!
This Yucca appears to be growing right out of the concrete…
Closer inspection shows there was once a larger truck, which someone cut off, but the plant continues to grow from a small crevice in the sidewalk.
Alberta Gardens…
An interesting little store with great cut flowers…
A few interesting potted plants like this Corokia Cotoneaster
And a whole vase full of this amazing Dianthus “bloom” I inquired about it’s name and I was gifted a stem!
We bought a Tillandsia to add to our collection.
At Digs Inside & Out they had multiple succulents all potted up for sale. This heart shaped one, complete with arteries, kind of weird’s me out.
More stock tanks, these full of bamboo and forming a wall to give privacy to a restaurant patio next to an alleyway. Speaking of alleyways there are interesting ones on every block, but none of them look like they’ve been driven recently. This one had hay bales stacked up across it. I want to get closer to investigate but it started pouring down rain about then so I didn’t.
A creative fence keeping the sidewalk plantings from being destroyed when the street partying starts…
I should explain that Alberta Street is the location for a once a month Last Thursday “street party” (my words not the official description). It started as an art gallery event but has morphed into an all out party with vendors setting up tables along the sidewalks selling everything you can imagine, street performers, and lots and lots of people. It is an amazing event for some serious people watching.

This very sculptural Rosemary is growing in a stock tank outside a restaurant, it looks so old and wise.
At Ampersand (a shop specializing in paper ephemera) I got all caught up looking through stacks of old postcards. I love the vibrant colors and vintage style. I left with two, Joshua Palms on the Desert…
And San Gabriel Mission, I love the pots all lined up against the building.
These Plume Poppies and Euphorbia are growing outside a building that used to house a small nursery, Buffalo Gardens. They moved, but the plants remain.
And finally this is the house we happened to park in front of. What an amazing little landscape.
I will have to return in the summer when these sidewalk bananas are all leafed out!


  1. if I get to visit Portland I must check this street out....thanks!

  2. Hi Loree~~ My favorite is the row of bamboo stock tanks. I love bamboo anyway and this is just ingenious. The idea behind Tin Shed sounds wonderful. I love the bicycle wheel "fence." Thank you for this enjoyable tour. The TV is about my only exposure to Portland these days and you know how negative the media can be.

  3. Having only been on this street during Last Thursday, the wonderful stuff you point out here was obscured by stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, street musicians and the like. You are absolutely right: walking is the only way to really SEE. Seems like one could park almost anywhere around here, take a walk and come up with the material for an interesting post...kind of like that game where you spin the globe, close your eyes and point.

  4. That heart shaped cactus is freaky! Great little tour of Alberta street :)

  5. Nice overview, Loree. I must visit Digs - it looks like a great place to while away half an hour. I'm envious of the house with bananas sprouting, and that great terracotta wall!

    Thanks for the fun tour!

  6. What a cool gate! Nice walk there with tons to look at. Sounds like that could be a fun Thursday night.

    I hate those banana trees I think they are so ugly. There are tons of them around where I live.

  7. What an amazing tour! I need to come back to Portland and walk that stretch someday. Truly impressive street gardening! I love the bicycle wheel plant guard. And that veiny succulent - never seen anything like it! I agree that it is too freaky, but imagine what it would look like with the sun coming through... crazy! Is that first photo a crabapple?

  8. Tillandsia rock! OMG, just saw the bicycle rims to make a fence. I am in awe. Matti

  9. Mary, come in the spring or's so much prettier than in the winter.

    Grace, the media can be negative? I've never noticed! (wink wink)

    ricki, great analogy. You should check it out sometime not on a Thursday. Maybe a nice summer lunch and walk.

    Megan, thanks, glad you stopped by!

    Jane, oh yes! Give Digs a visit.

    MT Julie, ha! I think you are the only person I've ever heard call banana trees ugly!!! What don't you like about them?

    Karen, are you asking about the first photo on my next post? The spring smorgasbord one? I think it might be, but I'm tree dumb too so don't trust me.

    Matti, the bicycle rims seem totally like something you guys might do!

  10. Bamboo in stock tanks makes so much sense, especially if it's a running species. And the hedge of them looks really good.

  11. Myles, the owner of Ampersand is a very good friend of ours. His store is an unbelievable collection of books and ephemera. Glad you stopped in!


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