Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A late summer visit to the Portland waterfront


I’ve been making a point of taking Lila (our dog) for a destination walk at least once a week, getting to jump in the car and go someplace new is very high on her list of fun things. Last week we paid a visit to the Portland waterfront, starting at South Waterfront Park. This is an intimate ½ acre space that truly feels like a garden. The long, open, 30+ acres of Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park just to the north has several interesting plantings (and we’ll visit those too) but it’s definitely a park, not a garden. I've always enjoyed visiting this smaller park, especially this time of year when all of the grasses are blooming and swaying with the wind...

Near the parking circle where I entered the park was a brochure free for the taking. It had an excellent map and detailed planting list of the trees, grasses, groundcovers, everything!

This would be an excellent learning tool for someone planning a new garden. You can walk about looking at established plantings with a list in hand, for instance I now know that this particular Crape Myrtle is Lagerstroemia 'Natchez.' I wish the rest of the Portland parks had a similar planting list!

So many beautiful grasses...

Now we’re moving on, towards the planting circles of Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, around the bend on the other side of the marina.

Here’s the first circle.

Then we walk on, past the wildlife, to the next circle…

These are big planting areas, note the passer-by for scale...

There are so many cool plants jammed in there...

Blooming Colocasia!

I am smitten with the leaves and seed pods of this plant, it's a Bletilla striata, or Chinese Ground Orchid (Thanks Lance!) while I understand this one has magenta flowers there are white ones too (see them, and others, here).

Look at the palm seedlings growing in the tiny crack in the cement!

My Gunnera isn't the only one that's gone all floppy...

And here we are at the last circle...

That's the Willamette River and I-5 in the background.

I was told the Cordyline 'Torbay Dazzler' stayed planted out last winter, mainly because there just wasn't time to bring them in. Luckily we had a mild winter...

With a peek at the Hawthorne bridge this concludes our visit to the Portland waterfront. Thanks for tagging along!

41 comments:

  1. I have that very Crepe Myrtle. It starts blooming, generally, late May to early June and if you keep pruning off the seed clusters, will continue blooming until the first frost, or so. (Mine is still budding and blooming on the branches I can reach to trim). Lovely, lovely plant with very interesting bark.

    My dog would love that waterfront garden. It looks like a very restful and fun place.

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    1. I saw that same Crepe Myrtle in a neighbors garden just the other day, beautiful.

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    2. There's a couple yards up around the corner from me that have stunning, deep red Crepe Myrtles. And I mean RED, not that fuschia pink you generally see.

      I've yet to discover where they got them from, as I'd like a couple to place opposite the Natchez White one, though, they'd have a lot of catching up to do!

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    3. Just march up to their door and knock, gardeners are always happy to talk about their plants!

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  2. What a lovely walk for Lila (and us)! It's good to see my Eucomis aren't the only ones with a relaxed attitude this time of year. Do you know what those interesting banana-like plants with green flower heads are in the picture right after the Bletilla striata pic?

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    1. The plant you ask about is a ginger, I just can't tell if the actual flowers haven't yet emerged, or if they've dried and fallen off, leaving the green bits to look like a flower head.

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  3. Wow, what a stunning public space! You're lucky living in such a beautiful city. I've often said that if I had to live in a larger city, Portland would be at the very top of my list.

    What really surprised me was the lack of people. You'd think this place would attract more people even during the week.

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    1. I really am lucky, and funny to think of Portland being a "larger" city...it feels so small in many ways.

      The area that I walked through between the first park and the second is lined with restaurants and tables outside. That part was packed with people, and then further north in the central part (where we didn't go) there were also quite a few. But all in all you're right, not a lot. I am spoiled getting to be out and about so much while others are at work.

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  4. What a beautiful spot and it looks like you had stellar weather. Is that a Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger' above the Melianthus? Be still my heart!

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    1. We've had pretty much non-stop stellar weather since you were here Sue, it's been amazing! And yes, I think you called it, those leaves were even better in person!

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  5. What a great waterfront park! I want to move to Portland!

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    1. And you should...just think of the nurseries!

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  6. Love love love love. Portland! Epic! Seriously, I need to visit. I love the foray dazzler and palm seedlings!!!! Did you liberate any?

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    1. Have you never been here Louis? Yes, you do need to visit...and no I didn't liberate any seedlings, I left them all for you!

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  7. That's a great place for a walk, beautiful views of the waterfront. The massed ornamental grasses look so inviting and they've used such an interesting variety of plants with them.

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    1. The only thing detracting from the beautiful day was the wind, in was wicked! By the time I got back to the car I kind of felt like I'd been beat up.

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  8. I have been here all my life and it truly is a beautiful city. What no pics of Lila enjoying the scenery?

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    1. Funny you should ask. See those square ponds in the 5th picture? Guess who went swimming in one of them? We were setting on the side of one just looking around. I'd scooped a little water out with my hand for her to drink and the next thing I know she just jumped in. I'd always wondered if she knew how to swim, now I have my answer. I was laughing to hard to think to take a picture.

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  9. What wonderful gardens and how fabulous is that free brocure with the planting list. Looks like a fantastic day for a garden visit. Thanks for taking us along

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  10. Yep, my Gunnera flops like that too, it just isn't getting enough water this time of year. The leaves turn all brown and papery too. I love those islands! And what a great idea to hop in the car with the dog and take her somewhere new for a walk, instead of just walking the same neighborhood.

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    1. All I have to say is it's time for a "pony adventure" (that's her nick-name, pony) and she's at the back door ready to go. Where as a normal walk has to sometimes be forced.

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  11. Would you please get out of my brain?...or maybe I need to get out of your brain. Instead of sleeping last night I was hatching a plan to move my cordyline Torbay Dazzler out of a large container into the ground. How weird is that, to grow a cordyline in a pot here in So.Cal, like it's not hardy? So I moved it today, only to find a beautiful specimen on your blog at the Portland waterfront...in the ground, probably. That is a seriously beautiful public garden. Huge clump of Parahebe perfoliata too.

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    1. Yep in the ground, well except for the one that got pulled out of the ground and thrown in the river, because there is always the one idiot in the group. So two of the three made it through last winter, one is a replacement.

      My Torbay Dazzler finally kicked the bucket this spring. Too long in a container with no attention from me.

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  12. Wow...LOVE all those grasses...so beautiful!

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    1. You know I was thinking of you...

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  13. such lush tropicals so far north!

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  14. I like the giant dish gardens!

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    1. And I like "dish" better than "circle"...that's how I am going to think of them from now on.

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  15. I like the planter areas around the areas. The plant choices are interestingly mixed. I love how the utilized the grasses, but there are some spots that mix themes between tropical and grassland....and it's um....different:) I so wish Gunnera grew here.

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    1. "Different"...interesting word choice! I think you mean that positively?

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  16. Lila must have enjoyed all that scenery and space and it's so handy that they've actually produced a planting guide. Very rare, most parks never bother at all.

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    1. She did...so many new smells and lots of joggers to bark at!

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  17. Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Gardening Community at vorts.com? Our members will love it.
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    Share something to get us through winter!

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  18. Loved that garden when I stumbled upon it. Thanks for just the nudge needed to plan a return visit. The guy responsible for the plantings (sorry, can't remember his name) often writes for the HPSO bulletin.

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    1. His name is Lance, his garden was open last August...did you go?

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  19. Great post, but need picture of Lila, too. You can just say it's for scale. Dog lovers will know different. :)

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  20. Very nice! Yes to a picture of Lila enjoying her outing too. :-)

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