Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Elk Rock Garden at the Bishop's Close


The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon offers small classes or workshops to its members throughout the year, a couple weeks ago I finally attended one called “Winter Walk at Bishop's Close Garden." I’d never been to this garden and figured it would be a great opportunity to get out, explore and shake the winter blues. Bonus...it was sunny day!

A little history… “The Elk Rock Garden of the Bishop's Close is the name that was given to the Peter Kerr estate when it was given to the Diocese of Oregon in 1959. Located in the Dunthorpe area about two miles north of Lake Oswego, the estate sits on a high bluff on the western bank of the Willamette River. The property includes approximately six acres of a cultivated English-style garden that was designed by the landscape architectural firm of Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts. It is widely known for its many varieties of magnolias as well as for outstanding examples of many other native and exotic plants. The term "close" as it is used in this instance derives from British usage where it describes an enclosed area around a church or other sacred space which provides a place for quietude and meditation.” (source)

We were a little early to appreciate the magnolia collection, but the timing was perfect for enjoying the hamamelis which I shared photos of here. It was also a great chance to see what other things popped with winter interest and provided a framework for future visits, of which there will be many I’m sure (I’ve got to see all those magnolias in bloom!). From the patio off the back of the house was a fine view of Mt Hood in the distance…

While everyone else was admiring the mountain I was enthralled with this beefy wisteria.

The chapel garden on the north side of the house…

And my new Magnolia obsession, M. delavayi.

Right about here is where everyone else started to coo about the epimedium…

While I was kind of taken by these dark little leaves.

And what a lovely specimen of Edgeworthia chrysantha next to the stream.

I’m hoping to make it back to see it in full bloom, maybe a week or so?

We were told the bamboo was coming out, it’s obstructing the view. What a project that will be!

Pinus bungeana, Lacebark Pine

Stewartia pseudocamellia

The Parterres, where the hamamelis is planted.

These little alpine troughs came from the (now closed) Berry Botanic Garden.

I guess they've had a hard time adjusting to their new home and some of the plants have died. Of course the fact that a couple of them have been ripped right out of the troughs by garden visitors doesn't help. Yes really! The gardener was with us on the tour and she told stories of finding them laying on the ground, some in our party refused to believe a visitor would do such a thing and preferred to blame the wildlife.

See the big graceful conifer in the background? It’s a Taiwania cryptomerioides or Coffin Tree.

It looks soft but wow…soft it is not, those are serious spikes!

That’s it for my visit, if you’re in the Portland area I urge you to see this garden in person, it really is a magical place and I know I’ll be back.

21 comments:

  1. Amazing! How cool that you discovered this gem! Beautiful tour! Thanks Loree!

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    1. You are oh so welcome Mr Outlaw.

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  2. what a spectacular garden. I can fully understand why you use the word obsession in relations to the magnolia delavayi. That is one spectacular plant!!

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    1. Glad you agree Louis...are you a magnolia lover too?

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    2. I can't put into words my love of magnolias... Particularly southern magnolias. I want to have monster sized specimens! They are gorgeous!!! But the only possibility for me would be the new "baby grand" ones from Monrovia. There's just no room... Or I should say, nowhere that I could jeopardize losing out on sun by planting one.

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  3. Perhaps you could plant a magnolia delavayi where the hydrangea is coming out, and espalier it? so it won't interfere with the space for the scheffleras :)

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    1. I like the way you think Anon! The only issue would be that my Magnolia macrophylla so just feet away...

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    2. Thank you :) I'm sure you'll find room somewhere in your garden! maybe even as a patio plant for a while!

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  4. Beautiful! I'm usually not a big fan of formal gardens but this one has a balance of designed spaces that look natural and the specimen plant selections to keep you interested. Olmstead is always magnificent.



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    1. I'm not either, but this garden has a much more relaxed feeling with truly cool plants sprinkled about. Oh and did I mention it's free?

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  5. I've not visited this garden in years. Shame on me. Thanks for the reminder of what a special place it is.

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    1. I think the bigger shame is on me that it took me so long to go! (8 years!)

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  6. It is a lovely looking garden and I love the atmosphere and the structural character of some of the plants. It also feels very Cornish too! You must have a Magnolia delavayi soon, highly recommended :)

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    1. I think we should ask for an estate and a staff to assist us for Christmas next year.

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  7. I've been visiting this garden every weekend recently. It's lovely. And I agree about the Edgeworthia: delicious! P.S. It was blooming this last weekend oh that scent. Yummy. Thanks for some of the plant IDs—Coffin Tree!

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    1. Every weekend? I love that. Thanks for heads up on the Edgeworthia, I better get over ther next week.

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  8. I love all the moss and lichens. If a person stood still long enough, would moss grow on them as well?

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  9. Several years ago my husband and I traveled to Portland. I found this garden in a guidebook and although it certainly was off the beaten track we managed to find it. There was only one other couple there that day, and we wandered around for several hours in the quiet and gorgeous place. To this day we agree that this was one of the best places we have ever been. My husband is not a gardener, just an admirer, while I spend most of my time and all of my money on the garden. We both were enchanted by the gorgeous and well-chosen plantings and the excellent layout. I guess one can call it a formal garden, but it seems to flow so inevitably that it seems very natural. I also envy the moss. Here in northwest Arkansas we don't have many damp places.

    Have you visited the Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek, Ca? Well worth a visit. This is a succulent garden with plants I have never seen. Amazing.

    Thank you for your blog. I learn something new every time.

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  10. hello, you didnt have a lot about the black mondo grass, but you did help me a little. I bought 5 pips off ebay and 4 of the 5 died. Florida has had drought for the last three years since I've been here. Its been incredibly hot. So, I don't think they are for here, but I've tried so hard not to loose my last one. I LOVE them! It only grew the tiniest bit in over a year now. I don't even find them in nursery so very frustrated trying to get more of it and to find out what will keep it alive! I tried to water to counter the hot winds, but then they died. With less water, they stil died! :D oh, its sad. We had green mondo growing up so I just didn't see it being a difficult plant to grow. But at least seeing it in your garden was nice to see what it should look like! It totally deserves plant of the week!

    thanks for sharing!

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