In Tuesday’s post when I mentioned spending a night in Yakima, WA, did you think to yourself why? Well so I could visit Hillside Desert Botanical Gardens of course!
I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about HDBG but I know it was on Ian’s blog The Desert Northwest. Preparing to visit I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive. After all this garden with the big name is in someone’s backyard, all sorts of worst-case scenarios played out in my head. Mostly I feared I was walking into sad little attempt at garden making and I was going to have to pretend to be interested just long enough to be polite…and then get the hell out of there. But does this look like a sad attempt? No…
It was wonderful. And it was raining, HARD. Dripping off my hood, afraid for my camera hard. I think that’s why I didn’t snap any pictures of the plant names. Looking though these images I can see there are several nice plant labels throughout the garden but I didn’t pay any attention at the time.
This garden is the creation of Ronald McKitrick, and as you might guess he’s been at it for years (over 30), from his website: “HDBG is the product of…years of testing and experimenting with certain species to find which will be the most reliable in tolerating the growing conditions here in the Pacific Northwest. Many varieties have been tried and through trial and error, a surprisingly large number have been successful. What started as a hobby in 1981, has expanded to cover 1/2 acre with more than 20 gardens developed into a magnificent showplace. We are located in central Washington state in the low desert area in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountain range. Annual precipitation seldom exceeds 6" per year. Summertime highs are in the 90-100 degree range. While wintertime lows can reach 0 degrees and occasionally lower. These conditions have proven to be an excellent opportunity to test for hardiness and optimum growth.”
Naturally the part about annual precipitation jumps out at me…seldom exceeds 6” per year! In Portland we can get that in a month! (January of 2012 = 6.82”)
I was unprepared for how much I would love the cactus flowers, they were beautiful and in shades of red and orange!
I do believe this is a patch of Maihuenia poeppigii, I wonder if mine will ever get this big?
That’s Ron in the blue jacket with the two ladies who happened to be touring the garden at the same time I was.
Did the snake make you jump? I’ll admit I was startled.
Every desert garden needs a jaw bone and a few skulls right?
That’s a rain-drop on my lens…not a ghost. I had to include this picture though…what with the blooming Agave!
As you may have noticed in some of the pictures there is a large greenhouse next to the garden. We got to go inside!
So many wonderful things, the ones that aren’t cold hardy. Some come outside for the summer to vacation in the garden.
As we were about to leave Ron mentioned that he’d be willing to sell some of these treasures (danger!)…but I’d forgotten about this one. I wish I would have asked it he’d part with it.
Look an almost albino Agave!
Back outside I made my purchase choices from this wonderful selection.
I knew I wanted a couple of Cylindropuntia to plant in my front garden. I chose these…
Then I asked Ron if he had any recommendations of a mounding type (my description) of Cactus that I could try in Portland. He dug up this seedling which he said was a hybrid form of Echinocereus triglochidiatus v. gonacanthus, resulting from a natural cross of two different Echinos in his garden. I hope I haven’t cursed this plant to certain death, bringing it to wet Oregon.
Finally here is one last look at the garden (Ron let me climb up on his deck to take a shot looking down on things)…
And a photo of a photo in a magazine that Ron shared with me…
Yes only true plantsmen allow themselves to be photographed vacuuming their plants! If you’re interested in visiting Hillside Desert Botanical Gardens I highly recommend it, Ron is a engaging and knowledgeable fellow who has created something magical. Click over to his website for information on visiting!