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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

a book recommendation

We made a quick stop at the library over the weekend; my husband had a book on hold that he needed to pick up. He requested a minute to have a look around, which means I head to the gardening section. Now if this were the Central Library I could keep myself busy for hours with the rows and rows of garden related books, however we have our holds sent to the Hollywood Branch which has just a few small, very sparsely populated, shelves dedicated to gardening. Maybe that's why the little paperback titled "From the Ground Up - The Story of a First Garden" caught my eye, no big glamorous picture books to distract me. Ah....Amy Stewart, a name I recognize (the blog Garden Rant, the books Flower Confidential and Wicked Plants). I opened it and started reading. I was hooked. I told my husband I would be outside, I checked it out, walked outside, sat down in the sun to read.

Later, at home, I picked it up again. It was a lazy Saturday evening, nothing planned, the sun was still shining. I read some more. Pretty soon the sun had set and I was still reading. I don't know exactly why this book had such a hold on me. The topic, the writing style, my all just clicked. Before I knew it I had finished the entire book, all 261 pages. I laughed (she throws snails into the street because she wants to get rid of them but doesn’t want to squish them), I cried (it involves leaving a garden behind, and not just the plants...but that's all I'll give away) and I learned a few things. After I finished the book I added it to the pile of books going back to the library, and that was that.

Then tonight I was listening to Pink Martini as I made dinner.
The title song ‘Splendor in the Grass’ had me thinking about the book again…the lyrics…"Life is moving oh-so-fast - I think we should take it slow - Rest our heads upon the grass - And listen to it grow"

That's it. Exactly the mood that reading the book put me into. Slowing down and just enjoying listening to the grass grow. I recommend it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Gardner’s Choice

The most recent stop on my 2010 Unemployed Portland Area Nursery Tour was The Gardener’s Choice in Tigard, OR. I hadn’t heard of this nursery until my former coworker, and graphic designer friend, Andrea mentioned it. Then in a comment on a recent post Jared mentioned it was a great source for containers. Since I was going right by it in-route on an errand I decided to check it out.

Jared was right. This place has containers, lots and lots of containers. Every color, shape, size and material that you can imagine.

They also had…
Including this miniature Hosta venusta.
And lots of pansies, violas and dusty miller. Now it’s true I did post about a particular dusty miller that caught my eye last fall. But I quickly came to my senses and reverted to NOT liking dusty miller and I’ve never understood the appeal of pansies or violas. At least not in the garden, maybe as a spring lapel decoration on a 7-year old girl but that’s it.
The large leaves and deep color on this Verbascum Pandora tempted me.
They had a great selection of interesting groundcovers, like this Sedum confusum. Is that a great name or what?
When I was just about ready to leave empty handed I saw this beacon of hope peaking out from under the tent covering…my people! The spiky ones…
They had a small well edited selection.
With handsome Squid Agaves…
And a couple of fine little specimens that needed to join my collection.
When I took my agave purchases to the cash register the clerk exclaimed “you’re buying my dangerous plants!”….yes ma’m the name’s danger garden and that’s what I do….I buy the dangerous plants and I leave the pansies to, well, the pansies…

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The danger garden annex has it's own blog!

If you've enjoyed my posts about the McMenamins gardens, especially Kennedy School, you might want to check out their new Gardener's Blog (click on the link). Written by Erich Petschke (the fellow who has answered my many plant i.d. inquiries), the inaugural post is about the making of the "new" Xeric bed, the one with the agaves and great spiky plants.These are pictures of the Xeric garden from a walk last Friday. It's looking especially fabulous right now! I can't wait to see the Echium boissieri bloom!